Sorry for all the words....but this is pretty BIG. A lot of official statements about the positives of Mountain Bikers on FS trails...specifically a National Scenic Trail...
That and the HUGE statement that Mountain bikes are considered a "semi-primitive" mode of travel. Many of these statements directly contradict what the anti-sharing people claim...and debunks many of their arguments to keep us off trails.
From the Sharing the PCT Facebook page: (edited to remove some content...very long ;))
Forest Service made a major announcement in favor of mountain biking on National Scenic Trails. The PCT is one National Scenic Trail; the Continental Divide Trail (CDNST) is another.
The Forest Service in Colorado has reversed course about mountain biking on a 31-mile planned CDNST reroute and will allow bicycles.
They recognize that the CDNST's primary use is for hiking and horseback riding, and yet mountain biking should be allowed where it will not interfere with those primary uses. The documents conclude that in low-visitation areas no meaningful interference is likely and multiuse is beneficial.
The full text of the documents below:
Some tasty nuggets from the decision (again from the Sharing the PCT FB page):
[header: Biking [Is] Not Substantial Interference with Nature and Purposes of the Act]
We believe the selection of Alternative 5 [allowing bicycling, horse use, and hiking on the proposed 31 miles of new CDNST trail to be constructed] meets the most objectives of both the CDNST and the CT [Colorado Trail] as detailed in our analysis below.
We have thoroughly analyzed the laws, regulations and policy in order to determine that including mountain bikes on this segment is not a substantial interference with the nature and purposes of the Act. [“The Act” means the Trails System Act of 1968, 16 U.S.C. § 1241 et seq.]
Our review of law, policy and direction together with the considerations specific to this segment indicates that bikes are an appropriate use of the CDNST. . . . [U]se of bikes on this segment does not cause a substantial interference with nature and purposes of The Act.
We believe “Maximum outdoor recreation potential for conservation and enjoyment . . .” (16 U.S.C. 1242) is best met through the inclusion of bikes in these multiple-use management areas on both the GMUG [Gunnison] and RNF [Rio Grande] [national forests].
Bikes are considered a semi-primitive non-motorized use.
After reviewing the effects analysis presented in the EA, we have found no substantial interference from the inclusion of bikes with the nature and purposes of The Act.
Our decision to include bikes on this segment supports multiple-use, non-motorized family recreation in a wide variety of unpopulated ecosystems consistent with the goals of the CT [Colorado Trail]. Selection of a hiker/horse only alternative would have undermined the duality of the non-motorized trail.
Volunteer base consistent with The Act (16 U.S.C. 1250) is primarily mountain biking clubs in this area. Due to limited agency funding and staffing, the GMUG [Gunnison] and RGNF [Rio Grande] [national forests] would rely heavily on these groups for the sustainable construction and long-term maintenance of this trail. CTF [Colorado Trail Foundation] would be the likely continue to be coordinator/agency partner for this segment of coincident CDNST/CT who would network with other non-motorized groups if bike use were included.
Many hikers have expressed a desire for trail design that avoids pointless ups and downs, moderate grades, grade control (switchbacks), and proper drainage (all features similar to Trail Class 3 with the designed use of Hiker); these nearly identical design features would also be accomplished though our recommendation of Trail Class 2 or 3 with use designed for Bicycle which has the added capacity for volunteer construction and maintenance that is not likely to be generated by hiking groups alone in this remote area of Colorado.
While we understand CDNST thru-hiker desires for exclusive use of the trail, exclusion of bikes (and for that matter horses), would not be an environmentally or fiscally responsible decision on our part. We believe that if we considered only hiker/horse use, the trail would never be fully constructed and maintenance would rarely occur because of the lack of established hiker or backcountry horseman volunteer groups...
Local communities rely on tourism generated by opportunities on federal lands. Rural communities would experience the largest economic benefit from the inclusion of all three user groups who would spend money on gas, food, lodging, supplies and equipment.
Commenters expressed concern that the use of bikes on this segment of trail would encourage illegal use of the CDNST in the La Garita Wilderness. This segment joins the existing non-motorized alignment before the wilderness boundary where this had not previously been an over-arching concern. This trail junction further serves as an entry/exit point back to the road system for bikers wishing to make a loop. While illegal use may occasionally occur in the wilderness, it is not anticipated to be more of a concern on the new alignment than on the existing route.
Many segments of the CDNST in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico (where not in designated wilderness) include mountain bikes as a valid use.
II. Forest Service replies to comments in the EA:
Policy (FSM 2353.44b(9)) directs that generally the CDNST should be designed for either Trail Class 2 or Trail Class 3 with a designed use of Pack and Saddlestock. Both of these trail classes and associated design features are very similar for either hikers or mountain bikes . . . . Allowing horse uses which is also compatible with the Act increases the footprint of the trail beyond what is needed for either hikers or mountain bikers. Slope (grade) is not expected to be a factor in the design as it is estimated at less than 10% for the proposed alignment.
EA has considered whether or not a substantial interference with the nature and purposes of the Act would occur with the inclusion of bikes. EA has considered best available science regarding social and resource impacts. None of the readily available science suggests a relationship to clothing of bikers affecting horses. We would assume that a biker’s physiological response on a horse would be similar to that of other animals which we have discussed under wildlife comments below.
While designated wilderness areas do preclude recreational “mechanized transport,” many other trails are open to mountain bikes in the vicinity even though the opportunity for specifically non-motorized trails appears to be limited.
[Comment: Bicyclists search for wilderness quality experiences, just like the hiker and equestrian. Bicycling is entirely consistent with the nature and purposes of the CDNST. Bicycling is common in Roadless Areas nationwide.] Reply: User is correct. . . . EA has considered whether or not a substantial interference with the nature and purposes of the Act would occur with the inclusion of bikes.
We believe proper trail design will minimize conflict potential. Commenter’s signing suggestions are valid. We will work with our partners to determine what works best for this remote and likely little used site.
[Comment: User conflict will occur, including displacement and disruption of the hiking and quieter trail experiences. The look and feel of mountain bike riding, the speeds, sports gear, relationship to a machine and other aspects of the sport are incompatible with the contemplative, slower paced trail uses envisioned for the trail.] Reply: The Act did not prohibit biking or motorized uses. The Act (16 U.S.C. 1242) describes that National Scenic Trails “will be extended trails so located as to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities of the areas through which such trails may pass.” The 1976 Study Report further describes the purposes of the CDNST: “The primary purpose of this trail is to provide a continuous, appealing trail route, designed for the hiker and horseman, but compatible with other land uses. . . . One of the primary purposes for establishing the CDNST would be to provide hiking and horseback access to those lands where man's impact on the environment has not been adverse to a substantial degree and where the environment remains relatively unaltered. Therefore, the protection of the land resource must remain a paramount consideration in establishing and managing the trail. There must be sufficient environmental controls to assure that the values for which the trail is established are not jeopardized. . . . The basic goal of the CDNST is to provide hikers and horseback riders an opportunity to experience the diverse country along the Continental Divide in a manner that will assure a high quality recreation experience while maintaining a constant respect for the natural environment.
I wonder why the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has had nothing to say about the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative, as far as I can tell.
A Google search for:
returns zero results.
This is a good question and I don't really have an answer but here are some thoughts:
Originally Posted by imtnbke
1. EMBA is a relatively small organization (compared to those in places like NoCal and Arizona) with limited resources. They have had their hands full with some very successful local advocacy projects lately.
2. The PCT in Washington is fragmented in terms of National parks and Wilderness. I believe, but not sure, that much of the remaining trail would be difficult to navigate by bike even if access was allowed.
3. There really aren't that many mountain bikers in WA compared to other places. I think much of the attention in WA is focused on some fairly challenging local access and building issues.
4. I suppose there's a small cultural component at play here as well in that the mountain biking community in WA tends to be a fragmented lot that seems to break into various tight nit groups that have their own focus and interests. So its hard to get everybody on board with a single voice at times.
In summary I think it boils down to relatively small numbers and a lot of pressing issues and the stance (or lack thereof) by EMBA reflects this. I think most bike folks here support the PCT but they're not very vocal about it. I know this is a very exciting possibility and I'm looking forward to trying out the PCT on my bike someday, hopefully in the not too distant future. I would also like to think that WA can be counted on for support when the time comes in the future. I don't speak for EMBA but I'm sure somebody will chime in on this.
Quick update - IMBA expands on gaining access to appropriate sections on National Scenic Trails
Long Live Long Rides! | International Mountain Bicycling Association
LONG LIVE LONG RIDES!
...The Pacific Crest Trail currently offers no bicycle access. IMBA has already begun advocating for a change in this policy. Not for sections of the PCT that are protected as Wilderness, but in places where mountain biking would be compatible with other uses.
The revamped “Long live long rides” campaign does not focus solely on National Scenic Trails. We are interested in developing possibilities for multi-hour and multi-day rides wherever we find them. North Dakota’s Maah Daah Hey trail (an IMBA Epic) is a good example of a multi-day ride....
It was interesting to watch the reaction when a hiking group recently stated, “Some trails aren’t meant to be shared,” and launched an online petition claiming that mountain biking is not an appropriate activity for National Scenic Trails. They were reacting to an IMBA fundraising appeal that pointed to the work I’ve described above. Many of the resulting comments — perhaps even the majority of them — were supportive of increased access for mountain bikers, though plenty of people spoke up for the notion that mountain bikers should not be granted any new access.
IMBA is committed to the idea that trails can be shared. Mountain bikers do not need access to every inch of every long-distance trail, but there are good opportunities to expand IMBA's shared-use agreements with land managers, and with other stakeholder groups. We are also eager to help, and have much to offer, with volunteer stewardship efforts on these trails. I am utterly convinced that trail experiences are enriched when a diversity of outdoor enthusiasts work together to enjoy and protect common resources....
Update from the Sharing the PCT FB page:
We're way behind in updating our loyal audience, for which we apologize.
The lack of a recent update prompted Maxwell Baker to ask yesterday if PCTRI is dead.
Not at all. But we're at a stalemate.
We had a meeting with the Forest Service on April 17 that was attended by top FS brass and IMBA's Tom Ward. We're still waiting for the formal response to that meeting, which will come in the form of a letter. But although obviously we haven't seen it, we understand that it's going to be another "no."
So, as said, it's a stalemate. We have discredited the moral basis for the no-bikes closure order. We've raised serious questions about the legality of the closure. It appears to be no longer much respected among mountain bikers. But the FS shows no inclination to budge. PCTA remains hostile. We have no idea whether the FS will continue to enforce the closure order in non-Wilderness areas. Maybe it will, if only to prod a mountain biker to go to court and try to get the closure order overturned so that the FS can get this monkey off its back. There's no way to tell. (This comment, by the way, should not be construed as an invitation to ride the PCT against the FS's policy or as a statement that fighting a ticket in court would be likely to succeed. The courts are unpredictable and the consequences of a citation could be unpleasant, so don't chance it.)
The above in Red is very true - all suggestions are appreciated, considered and discussed in the overall strategy.
What we plan to do is wait for the Forest Service's letter, give you a fuller update on what's been going on, and ask for your advice on what we should do next. This page now has about 1200 or 1300 followers. Your collective wisdom is greater than that of our group, by dint of sheer numbers. (That's why we have the jury system in the U.S.: 12 people chosen at random tend to make better decisions than a judge with 25 years' experience.)
Bottom line is the PCT (sections) will be opened to Mountain Bikes....its inevitable IMO.
What we are dealing with is the vestigial thrashings of a vocal minority acting as obstructionists...most hikers (outdoor lovers like ourselves) are happy to share trails in the back country. We all know once you get a few miles from the trailhead it's virtually abandoned...
Latest update - We finaly received the letter from the USFS....and it was as we expected
THE LETTER HAS ARRIVED
bottom line...this is a stalemate.
As expected, we have received a letter from the USFS, which can be effectively summed up in two letters: “NO”
Although not what we were hoping for, none of us here at the PCTRI are even remotely surprised by this, as it has been the anticipated response since our initial meeting with them. Let us be clear, that we are not by any means considering this a defeat. Quite the contrary actually, as our movement is gaining momentum. We are currently in the process of planning our subsequent actions and will be updating our site as we march forward.
We’re still in the process of digesting the information contained within the letter, but one thing is clear: the PCTRI and the USFS continue to disagree on several fundamental points, and it may take a much higher authority to formally sort out our differences. Whether or not we want to pursue such avenues remains to be seen.
At this point, we’re still in the planning phases and are continuing to add supporters of our cause with each passing day. We hope that you all continue to spread the word about the PCTRI and as always, we welcome your thoughts, suggestions and ideas. A copy of the letter has been posted to our history page, and can be found there or by clicking here: USFS November 2013 Reply
USFS has no interest in changing, nor do they have any real interest in enforcement (my opinion only).
from the Sharing the PCT FB page Moderator:
For more up to date discussion you can visit the Facebook page on this subject:
The issue may be decided, for a fraction of the cost, if a Forest Service employee encounters a mountain biker on the PCT and cites her or him, and she or he decides to bring the citation to court and challenge the legality of the closure. This page has hypothesized before that the FS might even be looking to cite a mountain biker so as to get to court and have a court put an end to this morass, one way or the other. Judging by its recent letter to PCTRI, the FS appears not to be happy about those Unabomber-style threats on PCT-L (the PCTA-affiliated discussion group) to sabotage the PCT and/or assault mountain bikers.
As this page has stated before, however, don't make yourself a guinea pig for a citation. With modern computerization of criminal record systems, even a misdemeanor conviction can present problems, such as not being eligible for a job you want or being unable to visit the United Kingdom or Canada. The closure could be legally valid—the FS says it is, anyway—so people should not defy it.
response letter from the PCTRI quoted below from the "Sharing the PCT" Facebook page
Mr. Randy Moore
U.S. Forest Service
1323 Club Drive
Vallejo, California 94592-1110
Re: Nonmotorized multiuse on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)—reply to your letter of Nov. 25.
Dear Mr. Moore:
Thank you for your letter of November 25.
We were disappointed, but not surprised, to read that you are not rescinding Regional Order 88-4 at this time. Still we are asking that USFS engage in a public process to consider an order or regulation that is consistent with current best practices and compliant with the Administrative Procedure Act. The 1988 closure order was created and signed by three Forest Service employees only after the Forest Service Chief declined to issue a regulation. We continue to believe that the Administrative Procedure Act calls for a public process to consider the regulation of trail use on the PCT.
The 1978 Code of Federal Regulations declaration, which provides that the PCT is primarily intended for foot and horse use, is not an impediment to reassessing the current use regime. We have no problem stipulating that the PCT is primarily intended for those historically established uses. As is the case with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, mountain biking can coexist alongside those primary uses. Mountain biking exists alongside horse and hiker use almost everywhere else, including on those tens of thousands of Forest Service trail and road miles to which your November 25 letter adverts.
Additionally, and beyond the questions of Administrative Procedure Act requirements and the application of the 1978 CFR provision, the Forest Service rightfully prides itself on its own participatory rulemaking processes. In the case of the PCT bicycle closure, there was not, nor has there ever been, a process that would meet Forest Service standards of practice. A cautionary, temporary rule has become established, but because of the lack of an adequate promulgation process, its legitimacy is tenuous.
We, like you, are saddened by the acrimony that has emerged over this issue. It continues unabated and no end to it seems in sight, judging by posts on the Internet. We pledge to you that for our part we will continue to conduct ourselves civilly and with a commitment to the community’s good as we continue our advocacy.
We welcome the Forest Service’s generous offer to "organize a professionally facilitated discussion in the coming year, with the goal of finding common ground for resolving disagreements" and your invitation to us to help locate a qualified facilitator. We are trying to find a facilitator that we can recommend, and we look forward to participating in the eventual conference or workshop. We will help create meaningful and productive dialogue at any meeting that does take place.
We feel very strongly that any such process should have clear goals, milestones and criteria toward planning and creating a national trails system that fairly and transparently reflects conservation and societal needs that have evolved since the current system and management practices were put in place.
Per your invitation, we will be in contact with [the] Regional Trails Program Manager, and/or [the] Pacific Crest Trail Program Manager, on these matters.
Survey time. For those that know the PCT north of Cascade Locks, and any surrounding feeder trails... and for those that don't want bikes on the PCT ever, please provide your input below. It is all done anonymously. Please forward to your bike buddies. Thanks!
Overview: Trail Section Survey
Section Map: Section H Washington
Rainy Pass to Harts Pass survey is ready for those who have some input. Share with friends.
Survey #7 - Rainy Pass to Harts Pass
I did the survey. Would love to ride this section legally.