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  1. #1
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! Big news: Feds to consider allowing bikes on PCT

    For the last two to three years a small group of us has been working to get mountain bike access to non-Wilderness sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. (About 60% of the PCT lies outside Wilderness.)

    We have convinced the Forest Service that its 1988 closure order requires reconsideration.

    As a result, the Forest Service is going to begin a rulemaking procedure, probably in March of 2013, to consider making the non-Wilderness parts of the PCT multiuse. This will involve public notice and comment.

    When something similar happened with the Continental Divide Trail about four years ago, the Forest Service received about 8000 comments. The PCT reconsideration can be expected to generate even more controversy.

    If the Forest Service decides to keep bikes off the Pacific Crest Trail, we can expect that closure to stay in place for the rest of our lives and maybe those of our children. If the Forest Service decides to open it, it will be revolutionary.

    Stay tuned. We'll be looking for your help in coming months.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    For the last two to three years a small group of us has been working to get mountain bike access to non-Wilderness sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. (About 60% of the PCT lies outside Wilderness.)
    Thank you for your efforts!!!!

    Stay tuned. We'll be looking for your help in coming months.
    Please keep us posted on anything new. This is very exciting news!!.
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  3. #3
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    Since 1988 the mountain biking community has grown not just in sheer numbers, which is considerable, but broadened in the age group it represents. As such, the potential for a mass of commentary is huge. However, getting those participants to act is hardly a slam dunk.

    Do what you can to develop awareness of this issue and maintain it. Make participation as easy as possible. I guarantee at least 1 letter.
    I don't rattle.

  4. #4
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    Glad to see the project coming to fruition. 2013 is going to be exciting. Looking forward to reading the hateful comments on the pct-l.
    Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun

  5. #5
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    That'll be like reading Proust or Tolstoy. Long.

  6. #6
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    Thanks, Berkeley Mike. Yes, getting people enthusiastic on mtbr is one thing; getting them to submit a comment to the Forest Service is another. It'll take some organizing work.

    Here's what you can do now if you're interested. If you belong to any mountain bike organization other than your own (obviously you belong to one already!), let it know that you support this initiative and ask it to support it as well. Much political maneuvering tends to occur when something of this magnitude appears, and some mtb groups might be hesitant about supporting PCT access (because of a relationship with a particular Forest Service office or employee, for example). There's nothing to worry about. If this goes through, it'll mean that the Forest Service wanted to do it. But change can make people nervous.

  7. #7
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    Links? Copy?
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  8. #8
    J-Flo
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    Thanks for spreading the word. I took a quick look and it appears that there is no actual federal regulation prohibiting bikes on the PCT, but rather two orders by USDA Foresters and BLM managers (exercising authority under federal regs) to close the PCT to bikes in the 1980s. They are available here. http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5311127.pdf

    I'm not an expert in forest management rules, but assume this simply means that the appropriate USDA official can issue a new order modifying/rescinding the old ones. We would need BLM action too in order to open portions of the PCT not in national forests. I don't see any notice or request for comments that this might be coming. How did you find out about this? Does anyone know whether they will follow a normal rulemaking-type process with a proposal followed by 30 days for public comment?

    Question: Should we lobby someone now? Please post links if you are aware of the officials to whom comments should be addressed.

    I am a member of the PCTA and enjoy hiking along many of the high Sierra stretches. Note that most of those would areas not be affected by this potential change because they are in Wilderness Areas that are off-limits to anything mechanical. And I think that is as it should be. Much of the PCT in the Sierras is above 10,000 feet and on truly sensitive land. Up there the world feels both billions of years old and brand new at the same time, and it is extremely easy to damage the land, even for a hiker. Horses rip it up but they don't commonly go so far above treeline. (And there isn't enough air up there for most bikers, anyhow.)

    But if we are going to succeed in obtaining mountain bike access to parts of the PCT, it seems to me that some outreach to the PCTA and other constituencies will be necessary. The through-hikers and their friends are likely to be hostile to the idea at first, and we can blunt or avoid much opposition by showing them that (a) access is inevitable; (b) it can be limited to keep certain areas bike-free (compromise, anyone?); and (c) bikers are a mostly responsible group, just as hikers are.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post
    I am a member of the PCTA and enjoy hiking along many of the high Sierra stretches. Note that most of those would areas not be affected by this potential change because they are in Wilderness Areas that are off-limits to anything mechanical. And I think that is as it should be.
    The ban on wheels in Wilderness is completely idiotic. Apparently, carbon fiber poles, pedal powered kayaks are somehow non mechanical and perfectly legal in Wilderness. The bicycle ban in Wilderness has little to do with whether the wheel is incompatible with Wilderness (hint: it's not, especially in areas where we used to ride for years and suddenly became inaccessible because of Wilderness status) and everything to do with politics. With 50 million of acres of designated Wilderness in the lower 48 and plenty more under consideration, accepting the status quo is definitely short sighted. We'll see how you feel about the Wilderness ban next time your favorite trail gets closed.


    Much of the PCT in the Sierras is above 10,000 feet and on truly sensitive land. Up there the world feels both billions of years old and brand new at the same time, and it is extremely easy to damage the land, even for a hiker. Horses rip it up but they don't commonly go so far above treeline. (And there isn't enough air up there for most bikers, anyhow.)

    But if we are going to succeed in obtaining mountain bike access to parts of the PCT, it seems to me that some outreach to the PCTA and other constituencies will be necessary. The through-hikers and their friends are likely to be hostile to the idea at first, and we can blunt or avoid much opposition by showing them that (a) access is inevitable; (b) it can be limited to keep certain areas bike-free (compromise, anyone?); and (c) bikers are a mostly responsible group, just as hikers are.
    Good luck reaching out to the PCTA lunatics (especially the people in charge). But since you're a member, you should definitely try and see what happens. My educated guess is that there is zero interest in sharing.
    Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun

  10. #10
    Log off and go ride!
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    I wonder how Mike V feels about this???

    The Forest Service is not uniform in enforcing the ban. Bikes openly use the PCT in many Norcal stretches (Perfect Cycling Trail?) and are ignored by local Forest Service LEOs. still, it would be nice to open the trail.

  11. #11
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    I'm ready to write my letter(s). PCT from Carson to Echo would open many legal connectors.

  12. #12
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    PCT is closed to bike
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    For the last two to three years a small group of us has been working to get mountain bike access to non-Wilderness sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. (About 60% of the PCT lies outside Wilderness.)

    We have convinced the Forest Service that its 1988 closure order requires reconsideration.

    As a result, the Forest Service is going to begin a rulemaking procedure, probably in March of 2013, to consider making the non-Wilderness parts of the PCT multiuse. This will involve public notice and comment.

    When something similar happened with the Continental Divide Trail about four years ago, the Forest Service received about 8000 comments. The PCT reconsideration can be expected to generate even more controversy.

    If the Forest Service decides to keep bikes off the Pacific Crest Trail, we can expect that closure to stay in place for the rest of our lives and maybe those of our children. If the Forest Service decides to open it, it will be revolutionary.

    Stay tuned. We'll be looking for your help in coming months.
    Thank you for your post! I have also heard some grumblings about non wilderness sections of the PCT becoming truly the official Perfect Cycling Trail. Not that it stops us from riding it now but it would be nice to make it official!
    Always respect rangers, they are doing their job-Everyone else has no authority, so get out of the way of the of the ATrain!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post

    But if we are going to succeed in obtaining mountain bike access to parts of the PCT, it seems to me that some outreach to the PCTA and other constituencies will be necessary. The through-hikers and their friends are likely to be hostile to the idea at first, and we can blunt or avoid much opposition by showing them that (a) access is inevitable; (b) it can be limited to keep certain areas bike-free (compromise, anyone?); and (c) bikers are a mostly responsible group, just as hikers are.
    Good luck! The folks at the national level will do everything they can to fight bikes on "their trail", they are haters and see bikes as the enemy.
    Always respect rangers, they are doing their job-Everyone else has no authority, so get out of the way of the of the ATrain!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeBC View Post
    PCT is closed to bike
    HA-HA LOL Good one TBC!!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Big news: Feds to consider allowing bikes on PCT-dscf3054.jpg  

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  16. #16
    J-Flo
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorg View Post
    The ban on wheels in Wilderness is completely idiotic. Apparently, carbon fiber poles, pedal powered kayaks are somehow non mechanical and perfectly legal in Wilderness. The bicycle ban in Wilderness has little to do with whether the wheel is incompatible with Wilderness (hint: it's not, especially in areas where we used to ride for years and suddenly became inaccessible because of Wilderness status) and everything to do with politics. With 50 million of acres of designated Wilderness in the lower 48 and plenty more under consideration, accepting the status quo is definitely short sighted. We'll see how you feel about the Wilderness ban next time your favorite trail gets closed.

    Good luck reaching out to the PCTA lunatics (especially the people in charge). But since you're a member, you should definitely try and see what happens. My educated guess is that there is zero interest in sharing.
    Zorg, we share the same goal of expanding trail access. Respectfully, broad-brush negative characterizations of PCTA and other groups that have done a great deal of good work to build and preserve the PCT and other trails is unproductive, and can only alienate others who might be neutral or open-minded to mountain bikers. I'm sure you have good reason for your harsh view of some other trail user groups, but that is not a good excuse to paint them all as enemies. The PCTA, for example, is not a "lunatic" organization -- much of the PCT has been opened and preserved due to its work, and many of its members love mountain biking.

    Taking a step back, you might see that just as there are some "idiotic" and "lunatic" environmentalists, the same term could be justifiably applied to some mountain bikers -- the "bad apples" who ride without respect for the trail and its other users and have provided much ammunition to those who would ban us from the mountains. Polarization of the debate cannot make things better.

    Whether the Wilderness areas should be banned to bikes is a separate issue from whether we will be able to open the non-Wilderness portions of the PCT to mountain biking. I agree that the outright ban of wheels from all Wilderness areas was misguided (I would not say "idiotic"), but that is a topic for another day.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jfloren View Post
    Zorg, we share the same goal of expanding trail access. Respectfully, broad-brush negative characterizations of PCTA and other groups that have done a great deal of good work to build and preserve the PCT and other trails is unproductive, and can only alienate others who might be neutral or open-minded to mountain bikers. I'm sure you have good reason for your harsh view of some other trail user groups, but that is not a good excuse to paint them all as enemies. The PCTA, for example, is not a "lunatic" organization -- much of the PCT has been opened and preserved due to its work, and many of its members love mountain biking.

    Taking a step back, you might see that just as there are some "idiotic" and "lunatic" environmentalists, the same term could be justifiably applied to some mountain bikers -- the "bad apples" who ride without respect for the trail and its other users and have provided much ammunition to those who would ban us from the mountains. Polarization of the debate cannot make things better.

    Whether the Wilderness areas should be banned to bikes is a separate issue from whether we will be able to open the non-Wilderness portions of the PCT to mountain biking. I agree that the outright ban of wheels from all Wilderness areas was misguided (I would not say "idiotic"), but that is a topic for another day.
    By lunatics, I meant to refer to the people in charge of the PCTA. I encourage you to reach out to the people in charge at the PCTA and report back to us to see the level of acceptance to sharing. Please feel free to prove me wrong, that'd be great.

    As for the PCTA members, I'm sure they're all great people who love the outdoors. Based on my perusal of the PCT-L board, few of them seem to support bikes on the PCT.
    Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun

  18. #18
    J-Flo
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorg View Post
    By lunatics, I meant to refer to the people in charge of the PCTA. I encourage you to reach out to the people in charge at the PCTA and report back to us to see the level of acceptance to sharing. Please feel free to prove me wrong, that'd be great.

    As for the PCTA members, I'm sure they're all great people who love the outdoors. Based on my perusal of the PCT-L board, few of them seem to support bikes on the PCT.
    I will see what I can do. I've not attended any of the PCTA leadership dinners or meetings, but have had some communications with the leadership and given the organization a lot of support. I don't think they are of the rabid anti-bike variety.

  19. #19
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    Positive news...wondering....can someone list the non-wilderness sections of the PCT in Nor-Cal?....thanx for your efforts..

  20. #20
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    Spin Oblivion — What we should do is create a website for our group, which we call the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative. We could then show the Wilderness and non-Wilderness portions of the PCT on it, along with sections that aren't owned by the federal government and in some cases aren't even on public land. (Yes, these are little-known aspects of the PCT. It's on land ranging from the Warm Springs Indian tribe in Oregon to California State Parks at Castle Crags, at Castella, a few miles south of Dunsmuir.)

    Does anyone have the expertise to create a website for this effort, and would there be any way to obtain free or reduced-cost hosting?

    Jfloren — As for the PCTA, I am informed that the senior staff are aware of our effort and remain opposed to bikes on the trail. We are working to do what we can to change the organization's views and policy position. Anything you can do would be great. I think it would be more helpful to contact one or two PCTA board members (who appear on the Pacific Crest Trail Association - Home website) and try to educate them. The staff is likely to say, "The board sets policy, and we can't alter it; the current policy is to oppose bikes." The board members are the people to change that policy. Some may be willing.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    Spin Oblivion — What we should do is create a website for our group, which we call the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative. We could then show the Wilderness and non-Wilderness portions of the PCT on it, along with sections that aren't owned by the federal government and in some cases aren't even on public land. (Yes, these are little-known aspects of the PCT. It's on land ranging from the Warm Springs Indian tribe in Oregon to California State Parks at Castle Crags, at Castella, a few miles south of Dunsmuir.)

    Does anyone have the expertise to create a website for this effort, and would there be any way to obtain free or reduced-cost hosting?
    Facebook page would be an easy start to get the word out.

  22. #22
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    Thanks, nutballchamp. You're right. A Facebook page is the way to do it. That's what we'll do. It'll be a lot easier than creating our own website, maintaining it, paying to have it hosted, etc. Great suggestion.

  23. #23
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    Imtnbike thanks for your efforts. Many of he elitist need to change with the times, but our own fellow riders can also make it tough when they are rude, cut trails etc. but in the same token the resistance to open up trails means many ride where ever due to feelings of we'll never get approval anyway.......

    If a trail is open to the public then all forms of us"public" should be able to use it. Exclusionary planning is something the progressives fought to eliminate. Why exclude anyone from the trail we all should have access or no one one should period.

  24. #24
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    Dreaming of the legal possiblilties between Donner Summit to US 70. Is there a connector around Bucks Lake Wilderness?

    I actually think this may stir the hornets' nest and the Hiker Elite may double-down and go militant for more Wilderness areas...but we gotta try though regardless, it's our land too.
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  25. #25
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    Not everybody's waiting for a change in policy...

    Mountain Biking the Pacific Crest Trail - YouTube
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