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  1. #1
    Chris Bling
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    Getting a Wilderness designation changed to Non-Motorized access

    Hey everyone,

    To start off, I am almost positive that getting a Wilderness area changed into a Non-Motorized area is next to impossible. Where I live, there are some amazing hiking trails in Wilderness area, but that does not help me or anyone else in the area who would love to explore the back country on our bikes.

    I am just wondering if anyone has any type of insight, success story, or a simple answer to see if this is a fight that is already over before it began.
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  2. #2
    trail rat
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    Plenty of resources and big lobbies working on it, lend them your support. (PS - Google search for "bikes in wilderness" will give you thousands of links to explore)
    Mountain Bike Recreation and Designated Wilderness: A Case for Reconsideration
    Frequently Asked Questions: Wilderness and IMBA | International Mountain Bicycling Association
    https://www.facebook.com/WildernessB
    CCCMB web - Facebook
    SLO trail maps - conditions

    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

  3. #3
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    you won't get wildeness changed back to non wilderness, remember wilderness is an act of congress. We need to come up with another designation that allows bikes in primitive areas.

  4. #4
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

  5. #5
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    So far, the only "success" stories I've heard of have been when proposed Wilderness designations have had borders tweaked to allow a mtb trail to continue to be a mtb trail. But it has not been a widespread thing and I'm sure very dependent on the local individuals involved hammering out a deal.

    That sort of thing will always be a challenge because there's a very vocal anti-mtb crowd that uses Wilderness designation as a weapon to get bikes banned from trails.

  6. #6
    mtb'er
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    With 75% of USFS trails being dubbed "sub-standard", and an increased reliance on volunteer groups to maintain trails, it's only a matter of time before the mountain bike community is invited to the table... errr... Wilderness.

    It would be wise for the anti-bike folks to accept us sooner than later. Once their less popular Wilderness trails are impassable, they'll lose interest and we -- arguably the most energetic group of trailworkers in this era -- will take over from there, establishing the dominant position. I'd think hikers and equestrians would like to be on the same team at that point. (Imagine a time when bikers rehab a Wilderness trail and determine it is not suitable for continued stock use!)

    I can attest to so many trails in the Sierra that are shown on maps 10-15 years ago that are no longer useable by anyone. Just buried in deadfall, overgrowth and landslides. Given the opportunity, those legacy trails could certainly be re-established by the mt. biking community in less than 10 years.

    Report: 3 of 4 U.S. Forest Service trails fail to meet standards

  7. #7
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    That may result in more mtb inclusion in regular USFS trails, but I highly doubt it will have any impact on Wilderness access.

  8. #8
    mtb'er
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    Purely my opinion, but I think bicycles will be allowed in Wilderness someday. Might not be my lifetime, but I can't see future generations continuing the prohibition, which (in my opinion again) is based on semantics. The other side of the possibility spectrum is that Wilderness eventually becomes off limits to most people, whether by neglect or policy... which seems like it would suit the FS just fine.

    First world problems...

  9. #9
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    Good luck and lots of history here. The ban comes from the designation no mechanized transport. Before mt bikes were around. Go figure. Seems like horses tear up the trail more, but that is for another discussion.

  10. #10
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    Wilderness designation does not ban bikes. An administrative decision by the Forest Service in 1984 accomplished the deed. The Wilderness act does not need to be changed, but Forest Service management does.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  11. #11
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406 View Post
    Wilderness designation does not ban bikes. An administrative decision by the Forest Service in 1984 accomplished the deed. The Wilderness act does not need to be changed, but Forest Service management does.
    Mountian bikes aren't "mechanized" forms of transport?

  12. #12
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    The Forest Service defined "mechanized" as "powered by a non-living power source". I believe the definition still holds. The Forest service allowed bikes in Wilderness through 1983. Pressure from environmental groups swayed the Forest Service to prohibit bikes. As far as I know, the public was not invited for comment. This happened pre-IMBA.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  13. #13
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406 View Post
    The Forest Service defined "mechanized" as "powered by a non-living power source". I believe the definition still holds. The Forest service allowed bikes in Wilderness through 1983. Pressure from environmental groups swayed the Forest Service to prohibit bikes. As far as I know, the public was not invited for comment. This happened pre-IMBA.
    Where did you come by this information?

  14. #14
    Chris Bling
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Where did you come by this information?
    Exactly what I was thinking. Please state your source.
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  15. #15
    Chris Bling
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406 View Post
    The Forest Service defined "mechanized" as "powered by a non-living power source". I believe the definition still holds. The Forest service allowed bikes in Wilderness through 1983. Pressure from environmental groups swayed the Forest Service to prohibit bikes. As far as I know, the public was not invited for comment. This happened pre-IMBA.
    Looks like they have updated their definitions

    Here is from the 2013 NFS Definitions:
    Mechanical Transport: Any vehicle, device, or contrivance for moving people or material in or over land, water, snow, ice, or air that has moving parts as essential components of the transport and which
    apply a mechanical advantage, regardless of power source. This includes (but is not limited to) wheeled vehicles, devices, or contrivances, such as bicycles, Segways™ and other Electric Personal Assistance Mobility Devices (EPAMD), game carriers, travois, carts, wheelbarrows, and wagons. "Mechanical transport" does not include skis, snowshoes, sleds, travois, non-motorized river craft including drift
    boats, rafts, or canoes, or similar primitive devices. Wheelchairs or other mobility devices that meet the definition of "wheelchair" in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508(c) are not prohibited in
    wilderness.



    Here is the link http://wilderness.nps.gov/RM41/1_Bac...efinitions.pdf
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  16. #16
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    So, here's the original text:
    16 USC § 1133 - Use of wilderness areas | Title 16 - Conservation | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute

    (c) Prohibition provisions: commercial enterprise, permanent or temporary roads, mechanical transports, and structures or installations; exceptions: area administration and personal health and safety emergencies
    Except as specifically provided for in this chapter, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this chapter and, except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this chapter (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.
    A paper published in the Penn State Law Review journal (the author was a staff attorney for the Supreme Court of California). Basically, the article includes a detailed summary of mountain biking in Wilderness (it was not always prohibited, and at times it was regulated). A REGULATORY change in 1984 is the reason bicycles are now prohibited in Wilderness. If the movement to get riding permitted on (at least parts of) the PCT is any indication, getting that regulation changed to permit or regulate bicycles in Wilderness is likely a political shitstorm. Frankly, based on my own reading, I think it would be easier to make a regulatory change to prohibit TRAILS of all kinds.

    Here's one part regarding preexisting use that I have not seen used successfully to defend existing mtb trails:
    16 USC § 1133 - Use of wilderness areas | Title 16 - Conservation | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute

  17. #17
    Chris Bling
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    It feels so hopeless...........
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  18. #18
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustyduke22 View Post
    It feels so hopeless...........
    It's manageable.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=supe...00%3B970%3B546
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

  19. #19
    Chris Bling
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    If you are implying what I think you are implying, I had never thought of that
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  20. #20
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    If you are implying that I was implying what you think I was implying...it's time to implement.
    Radio silence, Charlie foxtrot
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

  21. #21
    zrm
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    I guess I'll just have to ride and volunteer my time to help maintain the thousands of miles of trails that are open to mountain bikes. As far as designated wilderness goes, if I want to go there, I'm OK with walking. I like riding my bike a lot, but I'm not dependent on it and I can enjoy being outdoors whether on my bike or on my feet.

    If I saw some MTB poachers getting busted and having their bikes impounded I'd have zero sympathy.

  22. #22
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    Isn't that convenient, they get to change the rules to suit their agenda. Doesn't change history though. Bikes did travel Wilderness for awhile. This just makes a strong alternative designation that much more important. https://www.facebook.com/WildernessB
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

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