The Sustainable Trails Coalition sent out a press release this week, applauding Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) for introducing legislation to let federal land managers regulate bicycle use on Wilderness trails. Full details of the bill can be found at www.congress.gov.
The bill, H.R. 1349, puts mountain bikers on the same footing as campers, hikers, hunters, and equestrians by restoring federal agency authority to set conditions on cyclists’ use of trails in Wilderness.
Congress, says the STC, intended to allow human-powered travel in Wilderness when it passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, and for years afterward bicycling was allowed. But in 1984, with minimal public input, the Forest Service overturned a good regulation, in effect from 1981-84, that allowed locally based federal employees to decide where bicycles could be ridden in Wilderness areas, replacing it with a nationwide blanket ban. Other agencies followed suit.
Representative McClintock’s legislation directs federal agencies to manage Wilderness as Congress originally intended and end blanket bans on “bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and game carts within any wilderness area.”
“Congressman McClintock’s bill will give mountain bikers long-overdue relief from agency misunderstandings,” said STC board member Ted Stroll.
“It’s important to understand that reversing the ban is not an open permit,” added STC board member Jackson Ratcliffe, who says his organization’s base of thousands of mountain bikers will vigorously support Congressman McClintock’s bill. “Land management agencies already have the authority to regulate campsite locations, hunting, and where horses are allowed, or not. This legislation will simply return decision-making back to local authorities.”
The bill currently has three co-sponsors in Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), and Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.)
The STC was founded in 2015 to reverse outdated and counterproductive blanket bicycle bans in Wilderness, Recommended Wilderness, and Wilderness Study Areas, on the Pacific Crest Trail, and on parts of the Continental Divide Trail.
For more info on the STC please visit www.sustainabletrailscoalition.org.