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  1. #1
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    NY Times article

    This article is a big hit over at TGR Forums. It should strike a few responsive chords here as well.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/sp...?_r=2&emc=eta1
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  2. #2
    Sheepherder/Cat Herder Moderator
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    Nice picture of Corey.
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  3. #3
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    Well thats an eye opener!. Greg, is this the first openly stated example of USFS bias toward mtb impact that you know of?. I have been searching for some documentation on bike caused trail degradation for a while now, and have come up with nothing.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fused
    Well thats an eye opener!. Greg, is this the first openly stated example of USFS bias toward mtb impact that you know of?. I have been searching for some documentation on bike caused trail degradation for a while now, and have come up with nothing.
    That I am aware of too. They forest plans and travel plans have contained language about the need to manage recommended wilderness in a new more restrictive way, but I think that this is the first openly stated bias. It sure would help if they had been as open as this all along.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  5. #5
    beater
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    Thanks for that link. I read the NYT online daily, but missed that one.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  6. #6
    TRAIL KUBUKI CORNDOGGER
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    What's really funny is that most people in Idaho think that the New York Times is a conspiracy by the democrats to bring socialism to Amerika.
    Nobody cares what kind of bike you ride.

  7. #7
    jalepenio jimenez
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    How I read this

    Using "erosion" as the criteria for measuring the pro's and con's of wilderness trail usage is the "anti-biker's" means of distracting from the actual argument, and that is user "impact."

    The two are not the same, although impact does lead to erosion.

    Both are measurable. Both can be documented.

    Impact is the first legitimate consideration.

    Sustainability is the next consideration. If trails are built to sustain the intended user group, then no erosion. Impact is mitigated.

    Third, and the most sticky for bikers is: inconsiderate riders. Something that we can actually do something about, but also something that will probably be our undoing in this argument.

    The fight seems hopeless. The deck is politically stacked against bicycles. Trail closures are unfortunately inevitable at this point if they happen to be trails where motorized are already excluded.

    I hate to see it happen. What criteria will eventually be used to decide these arguments won't be those put forth by bikers, but more likely will be criteria established by non-bikers: the hiking lobby (various nefarious conservation orgs.) and their political operatives.

    Never hurts to write these people. I think that's what I'll do.

    Dave T. Bull; Region 1; Director Recreation, Minerals, Lands, Heritage, and Wilderness; phone 406-329-3584, fax 406-329-3536, e-mail dbull@fs.fed.us
    I dig, chop, strangle, yank, stomp, annihilate, mutilate, eradicate, and FU goatheads

  8. #8
    BMX:Our Shining Future
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    i can't WAIT til they start closing trails to hiking

    based on soil erosion, wildlife disruption, USER CONFLICT
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  9. #9
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    I sent my email. I'll let you all know if I hear a response.
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    Best thing about an ultra marathon? I just get to ride my bike for X hours!

  10. #10
    Talentless Hack
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    I got nothing...

    Quote Originally Posted by AlliKat
    I sent my email. I'll let you all know if I hear a response.
    I sent an email to Dave Bull a couple of days ago, no response. I was extraodinarily polite which really hurt but I'm sure I will be dismissed as some crazy crank, which I suppose I am. I just can't understand how a guy who works for the USFS, and I would suppose spends time hiking the trails he is charged to maintain, would state that mountain bikers cause erosion without mentioning horses. This kills me to no end.
    Sierra Club Sucks

  11. #11
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    Its not going to do us any good to vilify other user groups, thats what is happening to bikers, I hate to see all the smack talk monikers attached to peoples posts on these forums. If we are going to further our cause and not look like a bunch of short-brow morons we need to take the high road.If the dialog is not intelligent it is not legitimate. Guess who is successful in this arena? The wilderness advocates are not uneducated, and they know how to play the game, they litigate, which unfortunately is what our cause is going to come too if we are going to thwart this policy shift. Lets keep the passion positive, half the reason mtb'ers are vilified, is the perception that we are a bunch of self indulgent speed addled thugs.

  12. #12
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    I just received the following response:

    Thank you for the email. Mountain biking is a wonderful recreational activity, and the national forests provide tens of thousands of miles of trails open to mountain bikers. I bought my first mountain bike over 22 years ago and love the experience a good single track trail can provide. What I have seen over my 33 years in the Forest Service is that the vast majority of mountain bikers, ATV'ers, skiers, motorcyclists, hikers, snowmobilers, equestrians, etc. have a great love for and care deeply about our national forests.

    What I was attempting to convey to the article's author was the view here in the Northern Region that if an area is important enough for the public to ask the Forest Service, through an open public planning process, to recommend it to Congress for wilderness designation, then the Forest Service should protect those important wilderness values until Congress is able to act on the recommendation.

    Thanks for your interest in this issue. I encourage you to continue to be involved in the travel planning and land management plan revision processes currently underway on many Northern Region national forests.
    --Dave Bull
    --Dave Bull
    Oh sh!+ just force upgraded to cat1. Now what?
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  13. #13
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    Sadly, what I interpret from this is if Sierra club asks for wilderness, he feels it is his responsibility to give it to them until congress says no.
    Oh sh!+ just force upgraded to cat1. Now what?
    Best thing about an ultra marathon? I just get to ride my bike for X hours!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlliKat
    I just received the following response:

    What I was attempting to convey to the article's author was the view here in the Northern Region that if an area is important enough for the public to ask the Forest Service, through an open public planning process, to recommend it to Congress for wilderness designation, then the Forest Service should protect those important wilderness values until Congress is able to act on the recommendation.

    --Dave Bull
    What is sad and proving true here is that the open public planning process has pre-determined outcome. Dave and others in the Regional Office wouldn't know a true open process if it ran up and bit 'em on the foot.

    Fused is right, we don't know how to play the game. We are learning, but it's an uphill struggle because nobody in charge cares about bike access.

    Dave may have a mountain bike, but he doesn't share our values that I can see.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  15. #15
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    This topic is getting confusing...

    ...because of references to The Beaverhead Deerlodge Forest Plan, and the Bitterroot Forest Travel Managment Plan, which still has an open comment period. One opinion which really wraps up the situation with the Region One management, is this statement from a person called "Canonrad", replying to the New West article by Bob Allen from a few weeks back. He refers directly to the quote from Dave Bull and the Region One philosophy, as is applies to the Bitterroot.

    "I'm going to go a little of topic and rant about the Northern Region Forest Service Travel Management Plan farce.

    Someone recently forwarded an article to me about the status of the Travel Plan for the Bitterroot National Forest.

    http://ravallirepublic.com/articles/...ews/news27.txt

    At this time only 78 comments had been submitted. Among the reasons for the low response, "Then there are those who say the Forest Service has already made up its mind and so what’s the point of participating." I wonder why people would think that. As far as I know the Forest Service has made no significant change to trail closures in any TMP in response to comments so far.

    In 2007 the Northern Region Forest Service instituted a philosophy of managing recommended wilderness as Wilderness, and directed the individual Forests to implement this through the travel plan.

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to perform an Environmental Impact Survey (EIS) whenever their policies change that might impact the environment. Yet the Forest Service never did an EIS for this policy change, but instead is trying to use the Travel Management Planning (TMP) Process EIS to enforce this policy change.

    Yet in the Travel Planning EIS you are only allowed to address trail closures, not the underlying policy. You can advocate for one of the alternatives the Forest Service presents, but while there are several alternatives for motorized uses. All the alternatives, except the status quo are the same. All ban mountain bikes. The NEPA requires alternative for all actions, but this is not being done in regards to mountain bike access.

    The new Forest Service Policy states there are three option to managing recommended wilderness:
    1. Pursue a non-motorized/non-mechanized approach to management of the area through travel
    planning
    2. Adjust management area boundary to eliminate the area with established uses.
    3. Not recommend the area for wilderness designation.
    Yet some how the TMP doesn't allow for addressing these options, and there is no other forum available.

    So you end up with a TMP that is simply rubber stamping Forest Service policy that you can't protest because it is not in the scope of the EIS, regardless of the fact that the that the only forum for discussing the policy is the TMP.

    If this isn't a gross violation of the intent of NEPA I don't know what is. It is clear that the FS has a predetermined plan to close recommended wilderness and to use the Travel Planning process as legal cover.

    Unfortunately as of now it is the only platform we have no matter how rigged it is, so write letters and make enough noise that this matter can't be buried when the FS says no one complained."

    To submit comments on the Travel Managment Plan, use this email. comments-northern-bitterroot@fs.fed.us; type "Travel Planning Project - Comments" in the subject line
    I think the deadline has been moved to Nov. 6, but I can't presently find the notice on the Bitterroot website.

    Canonrad called it correctly. I couldn't say it more clearly.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  16. #16
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    I hate trying to send in emails on these because I feel like I need to craft a really good response which takes time to get further educated. I would be helpful to have prewritten mails that I can copy and add my personal comments.
    Oh sh!+ just force upgraded to cat1. Now what?
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  17. #17
    jalepenio jimenez
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlliKat
    I hate trying to send in emails on these because I feel like I need to craft a really good response which takes time to get further educated....
    AK, I'm sure your letter was fine. As for his response, have you ever gotten a response from one of our congressional people? They're the one's who are clueless.
    I dig, chop, strangle, yank, stomp, annihilate, mutilate, eradicate, and FU goatheads

  18. #18
    Talentless Hack
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    What?

    Quote Originally Posted by fused
    Its not going to do us any good to vilify other user groups, thats what is happening to bikers, I hate to see all the smack talk monikers attached to peoples posts on these forums. If we are going to further our cause and not look like a bunch of short-brow morons we need to take the high road.If the dialog is not intelligent it is not legitimate. Guess who is successful in this arena? The wilderness advocates are not uneducated, and they know how to play the game, they litigate, which unfortunately is what our cause is going to come too if we are going to thwart this policy shift. Lets keep the passion positive, half the reason mtb'ers are vilified, is the perception that we are a bunch of self indulgent speed addled thugs.
    You don't think the Sierra Club Sucks? I always take the high road in public and in official written discourse with management agencies. This is just a way to vent the frustration that builds over time dealing with the enviormental folks. Thats what these boards are for. Also, I do donate money to IMBA legal defense fund and to the MMBA to fight the fight, do you?
    Sierra Club Sucks

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlliKat
    I hate trying to send in emails on these because I feel like I need to craft a really good response which takes time to get further educated. I would be helpful to have prewritten mails that I can copy and add my personal comments.
    In my experience (from the science end of NEPA, not so much the policy end) prewritten form letters typically get lumped together as one comment. Even if they are tallied as individual letters (and I'm not sure they are) whoever has the responsibility of addressing them will do so as if they only recieved one comment.

    If you work off of a form letter, make sure to change is substantively so that the person reading it has to deal with it as a seperate letter/issue.

    There's nothing I like more than realizing what I thought were 30+ comments that I would need to address include 25 of the same exact thing. It gives me a lot more time to waste on MTBR.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlliKat
    Sadly, what I interpret from this is if Sierra club asks for wilderness, he feels it is his responsibility to give it to them until congress says no.
    Yes, which getting congress to act could take 30 years...

  21. #21
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    Wilderness will end MTB on singletrack in Idaho...

    ...next on the list is the Boulder White Clouds. Most in our Forest Region have considered "Proposed" Wilderness to be managed not AS Wilderness, In the Boulder White Clouds it is the only area Congress asked to be made a Wilderness Study area as part of the Sawtooth Wilderness. They found the other side of the road to hot to designate AS Wilderness at the time and left it part of the National Recreation area.

    Congressman Mike Simpson has plans for over 350,000 acres of Wilderness for the Boulder White Clouds, Pioneers etc. called CIEDRA.

    Here is a commentary from a fellow advocate in AZ whom I respect:

    COMMENTARY - IS MOUNTAIN BIKING ACCESS GOING BACKWARDS?

    This commentary is written by Mark Flint, a member of the Warrior's Society and our Arizona State Representative.

    Mark Flint has been a mountain biking and trails advocate since the early 1990s.

    His trail design experience includes trail systems in Oregon and Vermont as well as more than 100 miles in Arizona, including 35 miles of the Arizona Trail (a National Scenic Trail) in Southern Arizona.

    In addition to his design work on the Arizona Trail construction project, he has served as project coordinator, event organizer, volunteer coordinator and steering committee co-chair.

    For the past three years he has been doing trail design and construction supervision for the Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.

    Mark participated on the team that developed the Bureau of Land Management National Mountain Bicycling Strategic Action Plan, an advisory document for planners in the United States Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management.

    His awards include being named a FOX/IMBA Hero in 2006 for work on the Arizona Trail and with Saguaro National Park. He was given a Life Member Award by the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists in 2005, and the Pima Trails Association "Friend of the Trail" award in 2003. In 1996 he was named an International Mountain Bicycling "Shimano Action Hero" for trail advocacy, and received the Oregon State Parks Doug Newman Memorial Recreation Trail Award in 1995.

    His contact information is:

    Mark Flint
    Southwest Trail Solutions
    http://www.swtrailsolutions.com
    Cell: 520-400-2050

    COMMENTARY: IS MOUNTAIN BIKE ACCESS GOING BACKWARDS?

    I tend to get testy with mountain bikers who act entitled, who think they should be allowed to ride wherever they want, make wildcat trails, build structures without permission and ride trails closed to mountain bicycling. There's a reason for this, and if recent trends are any indication, we need more people to climb up anybody's six who thinks that kind of thing is OK.

    I came into mountain biking about 25 years ago, when we were few in number and had to prove ourselves constantly. The term "sweat equity" meant a lot more then. Without the hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours mountain bike advocates put in building and maintaining trails, raising funds and schmoozing with decision-makers around the country
    the riding opportunities we enjoy never would have come into being. It's as simple as that.

    We thought that as mountain biking became more popular it would gain more political clout, land managers would become more mountain bike friendly and we'd be over the hump. We may have made it over the hump, but we speeding smack-dab into a wall.

    Two factors, one of which nobody I know saw coming, have come around to bite us.

    The one that many of us did see coming is the failure of mountain bikers to understand that environmentalists are not necessarily our friends. This doesn't mean we shouldn't support environmental causes or be concerned about the threats to our planet. I happen to think we should. But as mountain bike advocates we need to have the political savvy to know who are our friends are, and who are our enemies. That is, or should be, Advocacy 101.

    Wilderness advocates are not necessarily our friends. Organizations like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society are not friends of mountain biking. They see wilderness as a solution, when in fact it's often overkill -- not necessary and in some cases does more harm to resources than good. They'd rather sledge-hammer us with wilderness
    than work out solutions that allow mountain biking and other activities that have minimal impact.

    IMBA, the one national organization that represents mountain bikers, never got this; many in IMBA's leadership felt (and still feel) that we should align ourselves with environmental groups, the very ones who work to deny us access to public lands. I never got that, and was among those who tried to get IMBA leadership to see this for years. They wouldn't listen. We weren't saying go to war with the Sierra club, but we did think that cozying up to environmentalists would make it a lot harder to advocate for access. And so it has.

    While I applaud much of IMBA's work, this tactical error could prove a serious flaw in terms of costing us access to vast tracts of public lands. IMBA's failure to provide a forceful argument against wilderness restrictions, out of fear of offending their "friends" in the environmental community, has cost mountain bikers critical ground in mountain bike access.

    The second factor is the popularity of mountain biking itself, combined with technological advances to bikes.

    As mountain biking became more popular, it took over many trail systems, crowding out other users, especially equestrians who are uncomfortable with mountain bikes on the trail.

    As more people came into the sport, trails became populated with more mountain bikers who had no clue as to what it took to gain trail access, and with selfish and rude riders who don't care about their effect on anybody else on the trail.

    Even before rear suspension, disk brakes and ever lighter materials mountain bikers were considered the "cougars" of the nonmotorized trail users, covering far more ground than equestrians and hikers. Today's bikes can cruise trails once thought impassable to anyone but hikers and equestrians.

    Now, with so many mountain bikers on so many trails, and with an unfortunately high number of selfish and irresponsible riders, mountain biking has created a backlash, and the two factors are coming together to create a perfect storm of anti-mountain bike attitudes among land managers and the general public.

    IMBA sent out an alert today that exemplifies this problem, an article in the New York Times:

    New York Times Says Mountain Bikers Risk Losing Access to Thousands of Trail Miles

    "Thousands of miles of alpine singletrack could be closed to bikers by 2013," according to story published Oct. 10 in the print and online editions of the New York Times. Titled "Growth in Mountain Biking May Put Western Trails Off Limits," the piece explores the implications of an evolving U.S. Forest Service Region 5 policy to ban bikes from places that might someday be adopted for Wilderness management. You can read it online at:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/sp...ikes.html?_r=1

    Combine this with recent losses of access in Idaho, Oregon and California, to name just a few, and the writing on the wall is pretty clear: if we don't clean up our act AND become more politically astute and strategic, we can look forward to fewer trails open to bikes.

    --mark

  22. #22
    Sheepherder/Cat Herder Moderator
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    Ummmm...I'd worry about the Clearwater and Lolo. They are going through Forest Plan Revision currently. Currently, CIEDRA needs a crash cart to restart, while the Clearwater is already on its way...
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  23. #23
    Sheepherder/Cat Herder Moderator
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    dir-T is correct

    Pre-written and form-type letters get lumped together and one response is made for all of them.

    Craft a letter a unique letter, if you want a response back on your letter.
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  24. #24
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    A month and a half ago i received a phone call from Dave Bull, still then the Bitterroot Forest Manager. He introduces himself and proceeds to tell me that the first draft of the Bitterroot Travel Plan was just released and that potentially the ONLY trail in the entire Bitterroot National Forest that had potential to getting closed to mountain bikes was the Blue Joint trail.....a local backcountry favorite. I was bummed to hear what i already knew, that Blue Joint had the crosshairs affixed because of the Reg 1 philosophy, but at the same time i was stoked to know that the other trails located in other Bitterroot RWA's were safe.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks from this first phone call ... i head into the local forest service office to review the maps just to see for myself. After 30 minutes of trying to decipher the map legends i figure out that based on each of the Alt 1 - 4 maps, all had the same RWA closures ( potentially the closure of 13 different trails and approx 60 miles of trail) . At that time i talked to a different forest service rep who also confirmed Dave Bulls sentiments regarding the one and only potential closure (Blue Joint). He seemed sincere. But having past experience with one other Northern region official i requested more research. She left a bad taste in my mouth and the word trust when associated with the forest service went out the window.

    One week later i was in a meeting with three Forest Service officials that all of a sudden seemed to be up to speed on this entire reg 1 philosophy. Now it seemed clear that every RWA was on the table....work needed to be done. Sleeves rolled up, comments written, meetings made. Trails in our backyard are getting pulled out from underneath our feet. Reg. 1 philosophy is real and coming to a town near you... as Greg has already said " The Forest Service already has a predetermined plan" and as fused mentioned....."when the time comes we litigate". But until that time comes we roll up our sleeves and write comments.

    What has me confused is the fact that even these Forest Service employees were originally in complete darkness....someone, somewhere has the intellect to not only try to pass this hidden agenda past us via 'Motorized Travel Plan' but also past their workforce. Dave Bull and staff were Reg 1 Philosophy ignorant just a few weeks ago and now, in the present sense he is the NY Times expert regarding such matters. Makes me wonder who handed him his new script. The million dollar question.

  25. #25
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    Im just curious... what happens if you get caught riding closed trails? Fines? Do they take your bike?

    This is just sad.

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