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.
Very cool indeed. Which groups are driving this?
Thanks, Dave. Yes, places like Winthrop and maybe Leavenworth (I live outside Washington so I'm not an expert) would have exciting new riding options.
Here's what you can do now if you're interested. If you belong to any mountain bike organization, 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.
Our small group is called the Pacific Crest Trail Reassessment Initiative. We sent our formal petition letter to the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service on November 12, 2010. Since then the Forest Service has taken over as lead agency in dealing with us. We're based in the Bay Area but have members in Portland and San Diego. No one in Washington state. We haven't tried hard to enlarge our group because during this negotiation process keeping ourselves out of the public spotlight has been important. I have no idea how any other mountain biking advocacy group, such as the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, will respond now that our initiative has become public knowledge. I do belong to a number of mountain bike advocacy organizations but can speak only for our own PCT Reassessment Initiative group.
Sections south of Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) would be it for this state.
This is great news and really shows that mountain biking is a sport that has earned it's place in the top of the outdoor user groups. Keep us informed as to how to participate in the process. Thanks for the effort.
OK folks, if you want to see EXACTLY what this impacts....
Google Earth shapefiles from Wilderness.net + PCT trail file from Forest Service
And when you put them all together you get a 7MB KML here.
(edited because I got the stupid link wrong)
This would be nice. i wish the trail was a corridor thru Wilderness. The thought of people taking a month or two to pedal from Mexico to Canada would be interesting to follow/read/hear about.
Need info when it's available on how to provide comments and feedback. This would be amazing.
Hi, druidjaidan and everyone,
We'll be getting you the info as soon as we can. We're gearing up for this effort and as we reach stages that your comments and feedback can tie into we'll let you know right away. Thanks!
We can only hope!
This is great news and really shows that mountain biking is a sport that has earned it's place in the top of the outdoor user groups. Keep us informed as to how to participate in the process. Thanks for the effort.
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
Regarding both bikepacking and day rides: one thing that would be very helpful would be for people to post the opportunities in their area that would open up if access were legalized. What good rides would become available that weren't before? What out-and-back rides could become loops? And, if you feel like being candid, what problems could arise from mountain bike use on those trail miles, and how could any such problems be solved?
NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
From an IMBA blog
Click on the above link for more info.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and love mountain biking, you have probably thought about how great it would be to ride your bike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which runs from California to British Columbia and is currently closed to bikes. Each time I hike a portion of the 2,600-mile National Scenic Trail, I find myself wishing that I could also access the stunning scenery, backcountry setting and phenomenal singetrack on my mountain bike. I also think about what a great resource mountain bikers could be in the efforts to maintain the PCT and other long-distance, remote trails.
The U.S. Forest Service recently indicated that it might consider a process to review the current ban on bicycle access to the PCT. Some bicycle advocates have actively challenged the legal basis for the current bike ban, but IMBA has not joined these efforts. We are instead focusing on communicating with both the Forest Service and other key stakeholders in the recreation community to assess current trail-use issues and identify potential opportunities.
IMBA believes that mountain bike access to long-distance backcountry trails is extremely valuable, though that does not necessitate opening the entire PCT to bikes (we will not pursue bike access in designated Wilderness areas, and some sections might not be conducive to riding). As the discussions evolve, IMBA will provide updates about which trail segments of the PCT are best-suited for bicycle access, and we will advocate for access to those sections.
Well the USFS issued it's reply - standard BS.
Please read FULL version and steps on how to change their mind. The USFS clearly does not comprehend how 'aware' we are as user group to the issue at hand.
Originally Posted by USFS Summary by CHUM
Facebook page - Sharing The PCT
Originally Posted by USFS
Letter Writing WILL make a difference - this is not a giant group of officials shutting off trail access....this is 1 or 2 people behind closed doors not doing their job because they want the easy way out. We have to make them get off their butts and do something....
Originally Posted by Sharing The PCT
I'll be sure to mention this on my next WTA outing.
A wise lady from white salmon once asked me what PCT stood for.
Scroll below for her answer:
"Perfect Cycling Trail!"
Let's do this!
Let the Pacific Crest Trail Association know your thoughts
Hey guys, I realize there isn't a ton of the PCT in Washington that isn't in designated Wilderness, but you can still provide a voice for mt. bike access to non-wilderness portions:
The Pacific Crest Trail Association, which serves to "preserve, protect and promote" the PCT, just put out an on-line survey asking folks for input on their 2013 Strategic Plan. This is an excellent opportunity for mountain bikers to voice their opinions about how the MTB community can help the PCTA achieve their goals, which are:
1) The PCT corridor is permanently protected.
2) The entire PCT is designed, constructed and maintained through partnerships.
3) The PCT is well-known nationally and internationally.
4) The PCT Association has the financial resources needed to accomplish its mission.
5) The PCT Association has the human resources needed to accomplish its mission.
6) The PCT Association has the systems and infrastructure needed to accomplish its mission.
The PCTA is currently opposed to bikes. As you can imagine, the positive effect the MTB community can have on these goals of trail construction & maintenance, funding (via memberships, donations and grants), and global marketing should be hard for them to ignore. Not to mention our ability to get youth involved with the trail, creating life-long stewards of this National treasure.
Whether you have a personal interest in accessing the PCT, or live across the country and support equal access for mt. bikers on public trails, your brief input would be appreciated. There are only 3 questions.
Survey: PCTA 2013 Strategic Plan Input
For question #2, if you don't have any insight into a particular section in need, feel free to write: "All non-Wilderness portions should be available to bicycles."
BTW, when you read "preserve & protect" the PCT, it has very little to do with bicycles (if any) and mostly everything to do with maintaining the trail while fending off development and logging encroachments that affect the character of the trail.
Thank you for your support.
Done, I pointed out that I have some of their t shirts from volunteering on that trail.
Bump. Got my reply in, thanks for the repeated encouragement!
Good luck with getting access.
from the Sharing the PCT Facebook page.
Last Thursday, PCTRI sent a letter to the Forest Service's regional forester in charge of the PCT, replying to the agency's initial rejection of our request to cancel or reconsider the no-bikes policy. The reply is long and has a lot of legal stuff in it, but perhaps a few people will be interested to read it. Those who are may want to copy it into a Word or pdf document; it'll be easier to read.
Here's the text:
We received your letter of February 6, 2013, declining to rescind or reconsider the 1988 order closing bicycle access to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
We hereby request that you reconsider the decision. In addition, we would like to meet with you and your staff to discuss this controversy.
We offer the following reasons for our request, which are in
answer to items communicated in the letter.
I. Federal statutes and regulations
The letter notes the existence of 36 C.F.R. § 212.21, in which the Forest Service declared that the PCT is “primarily a footpath and horseback riding trail.” The regulation was, however, promulgated in 1978, when the only alternative to foot and horse travel was by motorcycle or other motor vehicle. In the context of its time, it is essentially a declaration that the PCT is off-limits to motorized travel.
In addition, the regulation arguably was superseded by act of Congress, because in 1983 Congress amended the National Trails System Act, which governs the PCT, to declare that “bicycling,” including specifically “trail biking”—i.e., mountain biking—is a suitable “[p]otential” trail use on national trails. (16 U.S.C. § 1246(j).) In addition, as the letter observes, “[o]ther uses along the trail, which will not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the trail, may be permitted . . . .” (16 U.S.C. § 1246(c).) This is what allows bicycle use on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) despite a Forest Service declaration that the CDNST is primarily dedicated to foot and horse travel (see the next paragraph).
Furthermore, primary (36 C.F.R. § 212.21) does not mean exclusive. The 2009 CDNST Comprehensive Plan declares that “[b]ackpacking, nature walking, day hiking, [and] horseback riding, . . . are compatible with the nature and purposes of the CDNST.” Mountain biking is not mentioned. Yet the same plan also declares that “[b]icycle use may be allowed on the CDNST (16 U.S.C. § 1246(c)) if the use is consistent is consistent with the applicable . . . management plan and will not substantially interfere with the nature and the purposes of the CDNST.” As is well known, lots of mountain biking takes place on the CDNST and there are few if any problems.
Finally, we note the letter’s reference to 16 U.S.C. § 1244(e), which provides in relevant part that “within two complete fiscal years of November 10, 1978, for the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails, the responsible Secretary shall . . . submit . . . a comprehensive plan for the . . . use of the trail, including but not limited to, the following items: [¶] “(1) specific objectives and practices to be observed in the management of the trail, including . . . an identified carrying capacity of the trail and a plan for its implementation.”
Since the Forest Service believes the PCT Comprehensive Plan must be revised to allow for bicycle use, then, in fairness, it should also have revised it in 1988, when three employees signed the document closing the PCT to bicycles. We are not aware that any such effort was made, and we observe that the 1988 closure order does not appear in the appendices to the plan. In addition, the statute does not call for a plan revision each time there is a change in trail management practices. Finally, within the PCT Comprehensive Plan, language exists that allows for bicycle use. It is found on page 1 of the original version and consists of President Johnson’s embryonic 1965 statement that led to his signing the National Trails System Act of 1968: “The forgotten outdoorsmen of today are those who like to walk, hike, ride, horseback, or bicycle. For them, we must have trails . . . .”
In sum, we doubt that the enormous undertaking of a PCT Comprehensive Plan revision is required in order to repeal or reconsider the informally created 1988 PCT bicycle closure.
Although we have asked for rulemaking in the alternative to rescinding the closure order, we also disagree with the letter’s statement that rulemaking, along with a Comprehensive Plan amendment, is required. No rulemaking accompanied the order and none is required to rescind it. It is simply a typed declaration of what should have been a short-term, temporary policy as the Forest Service worked out mountain biking management on the PCT in 1988, as it has since done successfully on the tens of thousands of miles of other trail to which the letter refers.
II. Public input following the described PCT Advisory Council decision
The letter mentions that the closure was unanimously supported by the then-existing PCT Advisory Council. We are not aware that any mountain bikers were on that body. More to the point, we know of no evidence that mountain bikers or the public at large were informed about this drastic change in policy.
The lack of public notice and of an opportunity for public comment are central to our position that the policy must be reconsidered to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as 36 C.F.R. § 261.70, the Forest Service regulation that provides:
"(a) Pursuant to 7 CFR 2.60, the Chief, and each Regional Forester, to whom the Chief has delegated authority, may issue regulations prohibiting acts or omissions within all or any part of the area over which he has jurisdiction, for one or more of the following purposes:
[¶] . . . [¶]
(3) Protection of property, roads, or trails.
[¶] . . . [¶]
(7) Public safety.
[¶] . . . [¶]
(9) Establishing reasonable rules of public conduct.
[¶] . . . [¶]
(c) In issuing any regulations under paragraph (a) of this section, the issuing officer shall follow 5 U.S.C. 553.
(d) In a situation when the issuing officer determines that a notice of proposed rule making and public participation thereon is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest, he shall issue, with the concurrence of the Chief, an interim regulation containing an expiration date.
(e) No interim regulation issued under paragraph (d) of this section will be effective for more than 90 days unless readopted as a permanent rule after a notice of proposed rule making under 5 U.S.C. 553 (b) and (c)."
In other words, the 1988 bicycle closure became invalid 90 days after its promulgation, because there was no rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Its effect may have been revived by the Forest Service’s decision of February 6, 2013. But in our view that decision will become ineffective on May 7, 2013, for want of the followup procedures required by 36 C.F.R. § 261.70. We understand that there may be an APA exception for so-called interpretative rules, but in our view a blanket ban on bicycles on the PCT cannot be merely interpretative given its far-reaching substantive nature and the requirement that the policy be harmonized with 16 U.S.C. § 1246(j)’s allowance for mountain biking.
III. Questions of fairness and policy considerations
The letter informs us that there are many miles of national forest trail managed specifically for mountain biking. Overall, however, Forest Service policy toward mountain biking is unfair and unjustifiably exclusionary. In California, Oregon, and Washington, the great majority of the most beautiful and remote Forest Service trails are off-limits to cyclists because they lie in Wilderness areas. The non-Wilderness PCT would be one of the few exceptions were it not for the separate closure order that forbids bicycle use on it too.
The letter mentions the PCT’s problems with “ecological restoration and the backlog of maintenance.” (P. 2.) The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has acknowledged that it cannot sustain the entirety of the trail. Presumably this is a PCTA appeal for yet more taxpayer funding. At the same time, the PCTA wants to preserve the restrictionist status quo. Mountain bikers have an established history of doing restoration and maintenance work on trails. It seems incongruous to us that the PCTA and the Forest Service would look askance at a source of volunteer labor, to be provided by a nonmotorized and environmentally benign user group, only to turn to the federal government for more money to fund the PCT for the relatively few people who currently use it. In this latter regard, our research has disclosed that much of the PCT sits virtually unused year-round except for a few weeks during which a smattering of through-hikers may walk a section.
One continuing problem with the current policy is the manner in which it divides the trail community. On the Internet, PCT purists have been threatening to assault any mountain bikers they find on the PCT. The threats have been coming from hikers who, thanks to the 1988 closure order, regard the PCT as their taxpayer-funded private preserve and retreat. This is a management problem for the Forest Service that a fair policy will alleviate.
IV. Unbalanced input from interest groups preceding this decision
Finally, we wish to observe that after the Forest Service communicated to us that a review of the closure order might occur in March of 2013, we asked our supporters not to bother your staff or the PCTA before any review occurred. The PCT traditionalists were not so considerate, however, and bombarded both your office and the PCTA with hostile, pleading, and frantic e-mails. In addition, despite our request, your office has never been willing to meet with us, at the same time that we have the impression it was consulting with the PCTA regarding our request. This strikes us as unfair. Our offer to meet with you and your staff remains open.
Again, we ask you to rescind or reconsider the 1988 order.
so awesome...so very, very awesome....
Great response. Last two sections say it all.
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.
IMBA threw their hat in :)
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.