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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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    Perfect Cycling Trail?

    That would be awesome! Keep us in the loop.
    Why?

    Because we like the taste of freedom; because we like the smell of danger. ~ E. Abbey

  3. #3
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    I will, definitely. If you belong to any local mtb group, it would be helpful if you could alert the group leaders. At some point the Forest Service will be collecting comments from the public, and it'll be important for groups to tell their members so they can all weigh in. Thanks!

  4. #4
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    Awesome! Now if we can only get them to reconsider the ridiculous wilderness rule...

  5. #5
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    This is some badly needed GOOD news for trail riders in the San Diego area!
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  6. #6
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    Yes, San Diego would suddenly have many enticing additional riding options. I grew up there and know mountain biking is more limited in San Diego County than is fair.

    As for Wilderness (replying to sirsam84), we have another group that has lobbied the Forest Service at very high levels and established a dialogue. Unfortunately, however, on Wilderness the agencies (FS, BLM, NPS) are unwilling to budge, even though it is doubtful that the Wilderness Act of 1964 (the main Wilderness law) justifies their no-bikes rules. The bicycle bans in Wilderness were created by the agencies out of thin air from about 1977 to 1984 and rest on slim legal justification. But it would be expensive to go to court to challenge those rules and people don't seem interested, which I can understand given the cost.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    Yes, San Diego would suddenly have many enticing additional riding options. I grew up there and know mountain biking is more limited in San Diego County than is fair.

    As for Wilderness (replying to sirsam84), we have another group that has lobbied the Forest Service at very high levels and established a dialogue. Unfortunately, however, on Wilderness the agencies (FS, BLM, NPS) are unwilling to budge, even though it is doubtful that the Wilderness Act of 1964 (the main Wilderness law) justifies their no-bikes rules. The bicycle bans in Wilderness were created by the agencies out of thin air from about 1977 to 1984 and rest on slim legal justification. But it would be expensive to go to court to challenge those rules and people don't seem interested, which I can understand given the cost.
    Well, in just the last couple of years, mtb'ing has gotten a LOT more limited here. So, the PCT possibility seems almost too good to be true.

    As to the wilderness thing, the bike rule was an entirely arbitrary deal with TONS of underlying politics and agendas attached. Those kind of people don't like to budge, not even an inch.

    But at least we are better off than Texas, where there is NO National Forest or BLM land to even argue access over. It's all private 'proppity.
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  8. #8
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    Add me to the list. Not a member of any clubs/orgs but eager to supply a signature for this great cause.

  9. #9
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    Interesting development. Thanks for the update.

  10. #10
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    This would help me to fulfill 60% of a "bucket list" item without requiring me to walk. Let's do it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    Unfortunately, however, on Wilderness the agencies (FS, BLM, NPS) are unwilling to budge, even though it is doubtful that the Wilderness Act of 1964 (the main Wilderness law) justifies their no-bikes rules. The bicycle bans in Wilderness were created by the agencies out of thin air from about 1977 to 1984 and rest on slim legal justification. But it would be expensive to go to court to challenge those rules and people don't seem interested, which I can understand given the cost.
    I guess one possibility would be for a well-organized and legally funded mountain bike advocacy group to send some riders into wilderness to get tickets, then fight them in court. The real question is if anyone has thought out a clear legal strategy to take on the no bikes component of the wilderness designation. Since mountain bikes didn't really exist in 1964 I would think it would be up to the courts to interpret the legislation.

  12. #12
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    The legal analysis regarding Wilderness and bicycles has been done. See this law review article:

    Legal Analysis of the Wilderness Act | International Mountain Bicycling Association

  13. #13
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    Sign me up. PCT would be a huge welcome to the existing trails up here in Big Bear. We already ride it, and the rangers dont seem to mind, since it is us who reports most problems as well as removes fallen trees and debris from the trails, we are also good riders up here who respect the trail and dont skid or cut corners, we also respect other trail users, but it would be great to have it legal.

  14. #14
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    Thanks, Jeff, ambassadorhawg, dirtvert, and everyone who's expressed interest or is offering to help. It might be a while before we ask for anything. Following suggestions on various mtbr threads (I've posted this news on 5 Pacific or Nevada regional forums plus the Passion forum), I realize we should create a Facebook page; it'll be easier than creating a website under our own domain name. I'll be working on that and report back.

    It's also helpful to hear what the situation is in various areas, like Jeff's reference to Big Bear. Our information is limited and you all collectively know much more about the PCT's local use status and trail condition than we could ever find out on our own.

  15. #15
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    Very cool news. Looking forward to more information.

  16. #16
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    Ride it like you stole it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    It's also helpful to hear what the situation is in various areas, like Jeff's reference to Big Bear. Our information is limited and you all collectively know much more about the PCT's local use status and trail condition than we could ever find out on our own.
    During weekdays I'd say the PCT around Mt Laguna in San Diego is pretty sparsely traveled and riders do use it responsibly. I wouldn't ride it on a weekend/holiday as there would be some hikers then that wouldn't be expecting a bike - but the sight lines are pretty good and I think the trail would be fine for mixed use in the future. Every rider I have spoken with that has used the PCT up on Mt Laguna has said they never ran into objections from any other users. Every hiker and trail runner I've spoken with has had no issue with responsible bicyclists on that section of the trail as it is pretty mellow and everyone seems to be on their good behavior. That said, I think total trips on that section of trail are pretty low on weekdays so potential for conflict/controversy is low.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ambassadorhawg View Post
    Add me to the list. Not a member of any clubs/orgs but eager to supply a signature for this great cause.
    I second this!


    This is fantastic news!
    Ride Bikes, Drink Craft Beer, Repeat.

  19. #19
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    I talked to the most reliable source up here in Big Bear, won't name any names, but if anyone would know, it would be him, and he said the PCT rumor is just that, a rumor, he said when he heard about it, he made some calls and it was confirmed to be not true.
    That sucks, I was hoping that the PCT would be legal, and can't seem to figure out why it wouldn't/ couldn't become multi-use, since bikes are way less impactful then horses, hopefully, my source is wrong, but we'll wait and see.

  20. #20
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    His information must be bad, although I have to stop short of saying it is bad because what you're reporting is kind of vague. It is, however, not a rumor, I can assure everyone. The Forest Service will be considering as early as 2013 whether to make parts of the PCT multiuse (not parts in Wilderness, though). We have no information that the Forest Service has already decided that the answer will be "no." The agency is obligated to engage in a process fair to all sides and every indication is that it will be doing that. What is far from certain, of course, is whether it will decide to allow cyclists on the trail.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    His information must be bad, although I have to stop short of saying it is bad because what you're reporting is kind of vague. It is, however, not a rumor, I can assure everyone. The Forest Service will be considering as early as 2013 whether to make parts of the PCT multiuse (not parts in Wilderness, though). We have no information that the Forest Service has already decided that the answer will be "no." The agency is obligated to engage in a process fair to all sides and every indication is that it will be doing that. What is far from certain, of course, is whether it will decide to allow cyclists on the trail.
    Well, at the risk of preaching yet agin to the choir, we all know that cyclists, especially the XC/trail types, impact trail surfaces far less than hooves, and likely even heavy sharp-edged vibram soles. We also venture "off-trail" far less frequently than hikers and horse riders, too.

    What i've heard in the past, is that land-managers have used the PCT as a "card" in the ever ongoing game of trail access politics.

    As in, "well, at least you guys (insert user group who has irrational hate for bikes) have the PCT"....

    I for one think the time has long since come to pull that card out of the stack. But then again, what else is new?
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  22. #22
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    Thanks, Ray Raton and everyone else who's posting.

    The bicycle ban on the PCT that began in 1988 was implemented by a temporary closure order. Such orders are usually issued when a campground facility is out of order or, for example, a wasp's nest or a loose bridge plank makes it hazardous to use an area. Closure orders of this type are not intended to implement long-term policy decisions.

    No public notice or comment accompanied the issuance of this closure order and, if I recall correctly, it was supposed to revisited every 90 days, but it hasn't been revisited since 1988. This is why the Forest Service has to undertake this rulemaking process now, which will include the notice and comment opportunity it did not offer before.
    Last edited by imtnbke; 10-06-2012 at 06:15 PM. Reason: Typo

  23. #23
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    We've created a Facebook page for this effort. I invite everyone to "like" it.

    Currently we have six mtbr.com pages going, and we'll continue to post information on them. The Facebook page, however, will make it possible to post information in one place that people will receive quickly.

    Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct

    P.S.: I have the impression that we've gotten more interest from San Diego County than any other place along the PCT route. I wouldn't have expected that.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by imtnbke View Post
    We've created a Facebook page for this effort. I invite everyone to "like" it.

    Currently we have six mtbr.com pages going, and we'll continue to post information on them. The Facebook page, however, will make it possible to post information in one place that people will receive quickly.

    Here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/SharingThePct

    P.S.: I have the impression that we've gotten more interest from San Diego County than any other place along the PCT route. I wouldn't have expected that.
    If you knew the status of bicycle access to many of the favored local trails here, you'd understand..
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  25. #25
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    Did Elfin Forest disappear? Is the Anderson Truck Trail still accessible? I think I heard about problems with both.

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