Emergency! Lionshead Bike Ban Comments!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Emergency! Lionshead Bike Ban Comments!

    The Gallatin National forest initiated a public comment on June 9. We just found out about it. They are planning to ban bicycles from the Lionshead area in the Henry Mountains. This area was an oversight in the travel plan that was completed in 2006. Because the Henry Mountains are in a proposed RWA, and the Region One mandate is to ban bikes in RWAs, they are having this comment to gauge the public response. We will need literally thousands of comments in favor of retaining bikes there just to get their attention, let alone change their minds.

    The Lionshead Area contains two key trails for bicyclists. First is a critical section of the CDT. Second is the corridor of trails leading to Coffin and Sheep Lakes.

    When the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance formulates a list of talking points soon, I will post them here in this thread. Following is the Forest Service announcement.

    File Code: 1950-1
    Date: June 9, 2008


    Dear Friends of the Gallatin National Forest:
    In December of 2006, the Forest Service (Gallatin National Forest) published a decision for a Forest Travel Management Plan. In that decision [Record of Decision (ROD), page 55], we indicated that we believed that mountain bikes should be prohibited on trails within the Lionhead recommended wilderness area but withheld making that decision at the time because the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) did not present an alternative for public comment that would have precluded mountain bikes in this area. While this oversight was corrected by modifying Alternative 6 in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), we did not believe that it would be appropriate to make a decision to prohibit mountain bikes without first providing a public comment opportunity. Therefore we are now seeking comments on this planned modification to the Gallatin National Forest Travel Management Plan.

    The Lionhead recommended wilderness area straddles the Continental Divide along the Idaho/Montana border west of Hebgen Lake in the southwest part of the Gallatin National Forest. It extends onto the Targhee National Forest in Idaho. The Gallatin Forest Plan (USDA 1987) recommended adding 22,800 acres of the 32,780-acre roadless unit (Gallatin portion) to Wilderness. This recommendation has been in most of the Montana Wilderness bills introduced as legislation in the 1990s, but Congress has not acted to designate the area as Wilderness. The area includes trails in the Mile Creek, Sheep Creek, Watkins Creek and Coffin Creek drainages that access several cirque basins and small lakes. These trails, and others within the recommended wilderness, are now prohibited to motorcycle and ATV use as a result of the decision for the Gallatin Forest Travel Management Plan. The Travel Plan also prohibited snowmobile use within this area.

    I am currently preparing to make a decision on whether mountain biking should be prohibited in the Lionhead recommended wilderness area until such time that Congress acts on the current Forest Plan recommendation or a revised Forest Plan concludes that these areas have some other higher, better use than as wilderness. An affirmative decision would modify the Gallatin National Forest Travel Management Plan to prohibit mountain biking within this area. More specifically, mountain biking would be prohibited on the following system trails:

    Coffin Lakes Trail #209
    Mile Creek Trail #214
    West Fork Watkins Creek Trail #216
    Sheep Lake Trail #218


    Mountain biking would also be prohibited on any non-system trail and for off-route travel within the recommended wilderness area. In other words, this modification of the Travel Plan would close the entire area to mountain bike use.

    Providing Comments

    In addition to the public comments we receive, I will base my decision on the Gallatin National Forest Travel Management Plan FEIS (October 2006). This FEIS is posted on the Gallatin National Forest website at: http://www.fs.fed.us./r1/gallatin/travel_planning.

    Comments will be accepted until July 18th, 2008. To be most helpful, comments should be substantive and specific to the mountain bike prohibitions being considered for the Lionhead recommended wilderness. They should include: (1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; (2) title of the action (i.e. “Lionhead Bike Prohibition”); (3) specific facts and supporting reasons for me to consider; and (4) signatures.

    Written comments should be sent to:

    Gallatin National Forest
    Attn: Steve Christiansen
    P.O. Box 130
    Bozeman, MT 59771

    Electronic comments can be e-mailed to: [email protected]. Enter the phrase “Lionhead Bike Prohibition” in the subject line. Comments may also be faxed to (406) 587-6758. If you have questions please contact Steve Christiansen at (406) 587-6750 or Kimberly Schlenker at (406) 587-6743.

    Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record and will be available for public inspection. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered. Additionally, pursuant to 7 CFR 1.27(d), any person may request the agency to withhold a submission from the public record by showing how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits such confidentiality. Persons requesting such confidentiality should be aware that, under the FOIA, confidentiality may be granted in only very limited circumstances, such as to protect trade secrets. The Forest Service will inform the requester of the agency's decision regarding the request for confidentiality, and where the request is denied, the agency will return the submission and notify the requester that the comments may be resubmitted with or without name and address.
    Sincerely,

    /s/ Mary C. Erickson
    MARY C. ERICKSON
    Forest Supervisor
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  2. #2
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    sent my comment
    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!

  3. #3
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    Greg - Looks like we will be busy...not that anyone expected us to not me.
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  4. #4
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    I sent in my comments, I really have to question how some of these intiatives and forest plans don't end up in court.
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  5. #5
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    Has region 1 given you there policy on RWA?

    I have a pdf version if you are interested in reading. just email me at chris at trailwize.com

    Chris
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  6. #6
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    Last summer Sheep Lake ride photos

    Sheep Lake is accessed from the west side of the Henrys. There is a trail that crosses all the way through the moutains, connecting to the Coffin Lake trail on the east side. These pictures are from 2007.
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  7. #7
    jones'in
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    ...When the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance formulates a list of talking points soon, I will post them here in this thread....
    Any of those talking points been formulated yet? I've not ridden any of this, but the pictures you posted look awfully tasty. I'll need to pull out my maps and plan a ride out there.

    --Ben
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    Coffin Lake photos from 2007

    Coffin Lake is a shorter ride, accessed from the east side of the Henrys. There is a connector trail through from Coffin Lk. to Sheep Lk.
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by venom600
    Any of those talking points been formulated yet? I've not ridden any of this, but the pictures you posted look awfully tasty. I'll need to pull out my maps and plan a ride out there.

    --Ben
    Talking points are being edited by others and I hope to see them soon to get them out to everyone.

    Corey is planning a last minute series of advocacy rides in the Henrys over July 4th. 3 rides, 3 days. Tough weekend, Boulder/White Clouds, Kettle Crest, and now this.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  10. #10
    jones'in
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    Corey is planning a last minute series of advocacy rides in the Henrys over July 4th. 3 rides, 3 days. Tough weekend, Boulder/White Clouds, Kettle Crest, and now this.
    Damn, I'm gonna be up in Bigfork July 3-8. I'd love a guided tour of this area some day, unless I get to it on my own first. So much riding to do....so little time....

    --Ben
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  11. #11
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    the schedule

    Lionshead Advocacy Ride Schedule

    July 4 – Continental Divide Trail. Meeting at the Mile Creek Trailhead at about 9:45-10:00 a.m. This is about 100 miles from Bozeman, south through the Madison Valley. Elevation gain of over 3,000 ft. yet this ride is fairly easy on a bike as the trail grade is built to modern standards (50 switchbacks!). Snow blocking our progress is likely near the top. If we can ride in the basin over the top, into Targhee National Forest, we will. This is a through route, but we will be treating it as an out and back ride, returning to our vehicles. This trail is strategically most important to bicyclists as a vital link in the CDT between Yellowstone Park and the Pintlar Wilderness. This CDT trail corridor is extremely important for bicyclists to keep open, in order to retain our best chance in the state for multi-day wilderness quality riding opportunities in the future.

    July 5 – Coffin Lake. Pretty ride to an alpine lake. This ride is the shortest of the three, but can be made longer by riding on to either the Continental Divide Trail or in the direction of Sheep Lake.

    July 6 – Sheep Lake. Longest ride? Still not a full day out, but more than half day. Most technical trail conditions are on this ride. Much less vertical gain than the CDT from Mile Creek.

    We could hit snow on any of these rides, and with the snowpack producing high water; we could encounter sporty conditions at creek crossings. Hopefully the bridges are still in place. Leaving Bozeman from the Ridge (Athletic Club) on Ferguson Rd. at 8 each day, we would travel down the Madison Valley towards Reynolds Pass. Sheep Lake and Mile Creek trailheads are just beyond the turnoff to Quake Lake. The Coffin Lake ride may also be accessed by traveling the Madison Valley, because of road repairs on Hwy. 191. If you have bear spray, bring it. Just insurance, you know. Corey Biggers will be leading these rides, and he deserves a big hand and lots of support. (Corey is the first ever IMBA/Fox trail hero) His truck is a crew cab and can haul 4 people plus bikes. He can be emailed at [email protected] or called at 406-580-8096 before 8 p.m. Car pooling is king. Anyone who has real time info on the highway conditions from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, chime in here please.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  12. #12
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    I am not a MT resident and have not been riding there. Does comment as an interested out of state party that would like to vacation or ride there in the future assist at all?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshG
    I am not a MT resident and have not been riding there. Does comment as an interested out of state party that would like to vacation or ride there in the future assist at all?
    Absolutely Josh. I have heard we will have talking points by Monday. But the out of state perspective is vital and us residents cannot adequately convey that point. Go for it!
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  14. #14
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    talking points from IMBA and the MMBA

    the links are not active, so copy and paste them into your browser for more information.

    Help Save the Continental Divide Trail Near Yellowstone
    National Park


    IMBA and the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance urge all mountain bikers
    to help prevent bike prohibitions on the Continental Divide Trail and
    other epic singletrack near Yellowstone National Park. The Gallatin
    National Forest has proposed a bicycle ban on five trails in the
    extraordinary Lionhead area, totaling more than 25 miles. Your support
    is crucial if these trails are to remain open to mountain biking.
    http://go.imba.com/site/R?i=3ki6C5bBndJrNt2X6st7CA..

    "We depend on Lionhead's backcountry trails and setting,"
    says Kelli Sanders, co-owner of the IMBA-affiliated bicycle and ski
    retailer Freeheel and Wheel. "Visiting cyclists highly
    value the solitude and challenge of traversing the Continental Divide
    Trail or visiting the pristine Coffin Lakes. We hope the Forest
    Service continues to protect this important area and its traditional
    bicycling trails."
    http://go.imba.com/site/R?i=n6SjA-CuF8kt9Bn2Y35yGA..

    The trails, considered the best in the surrounding area, also provide
    a cherished escape for Bozeman and Big Sky residents and are instantly
    popular with visiting mountain bikers.

    Take Action!

    Tell the Forest Service to protect the Continental Divide Trail and
    other trails in a bicycle-friendly manner. The deadline for comments
    is July 18.

    http://go.imba.com/site/R?i=F4VYTZSrbRTYjvYAPpPMwQ..

    Additional Information

    Lionhead's trails have been respectfully ridden by bicyclists and
    shared successfully with equestrians, hikers and other trail users for
    decades.

    Cyclists have contributed many hours of trail maintenance in the
    Lionhead area and are invested and responsible stakeholders in the
    future of this trail system.

    The Lionhead area is already designated non-motorized and the
    continued presence of bicycles will not damage the resource or
    diminish its wilderness character.

    Bicyclists enjoy the Lionhead trail system for the same reason as
    other quiet trail users. We value the solitude, beauty and challenge
    of exploring backcountry singletrack.

    The Forest Service can protect the land and allow for continued
    bicycling - there is no need to choose between the two. The Lionhead
    RWA is a perfect candidate for a Congressional designation such as
    National Recreation Area that can permanently protect the area from
    new roads and mining while allowing continued bicycle access and
    giving the Forest Service better management options.

    The economic, social and health contributions of mountain biking in
    the Gallatin National Forest should be nurtured and promoted as an
    integral piece of forest planning and a lucrative component to the
    regional recreation mix.

    Writing Your Own Letter

    Unique, personalized messages are extremely important. Concerned
    mountain bikers can submit their comments using either IMBA's
    simple online form or through their own email address or a mailed
    letter. All options allow you to edit your comments for maximum
    effect.

    If you want to write your own letter, please be sure to include the
    following:

    (1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if
    any;
    (2) title of the action (i.e. "Lionhead Bike
    Prohibition");
    (3) specific facts and supporting reasons to be consider; and
    (4) signatures.

    Letters can be sent to:

    Gallatin National Forest
    Attn: Steve Christiansen
    P.O. Box 130
    Bozeman, MT 59771
    [email protected]
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  15. #15
    Sheepherder/Cat Herder Moderator
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    some related documents for light reading:

    Travel Planning Site for the Gallatin NF:
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin/?pa...ravel_planning

    Notice for Proposed Travel Management Plan Changes:
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin/dat...06-19-2008.pdf
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  16. #16
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    July 4, CDT

    I missed this ride, but can give a short narrative. The goal was to ride as far as possible until being turned back by snow, mission accomplished. 9 people started, with one turning around soon. The trail climbs through open foothills, eventually reaching a canyon, then begins an ascent up the 50 switchbacks to the Idaho line. The group made it through quite a bit of snow, eventually hiking about 3/4 mile on snow looking for a clear trail beyond, no luck though, they had climbed too high. John F. broke or bent a derailer hanger, and missed out on the alpine bushwack. His account is here. http://bozemantrailreport.blogspot.com/
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    more shots from the 4th

    Of course, not all snow is possible to walk on.
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  18. #18
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    sent my coment in to
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
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  19. #19
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    thanks for the support

    I just recieved word that new, refined talking points are on the MMBA website. http://www.montanamountainbikeallian...write-a-letter
    Sage advice from President Bob. For those of you who haven't yet wrote a letter of support, please heed his words of wisdom.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  20. #20
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    Sent my email -- thanks Greg for continuing to spotlight the important behind the scenes work that needs to be done to keep our biking options open.

    I've ridden Coffin Lake, and did that one stretch of CDT from the pass to Reynolds... will add Sheep Lake to my must-do list for this summer...

    Thanks again for the reminder to get involved!!

    Alfie

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    Well, I guess we still have an emergency

    I was just made aware of this alert from The Wilderness Society. This organization plus the Montana Wilderness Association have decided to take the low road and spread a campaign of misinformation. To say that bicyclists "want it all" is grossly off the mark. These groups know no scruples when it comes to any obstacle, no matter how legitimate, if that obstacle has any interest in "their" future wilderness.

    This alert was sent to an esteemed IMBA employee who lobbies for us quite a bit in DC.

    "Dear Jenn,

    Tell the Forest Service that recommended wilderness areas must remain
    off limits to bikes!

    Take action today!

    A rugged land of sparkling lakes, 10,000-foot peaks and world-class wildlife habitat, Montana's stunning Lionhead Recommended Wilderness, just west of Yellowstone National Park, is a dazzling area of tranquility. The area is so rugged that the Forest Service proposed that it be off limits to all mechanized travel, including mountain bikes.

    But the proposal to protect the rugged Lionhead area is in danger.

    That's why Lionhead needs your help before July 18. Tell the Forest Service to do the right thing.

    Mountain bike activists have mounted a campaign to convince the Forest Service to give in and give cyclists total access to wilderness quality lands.

    Alternative trails - including many primitive roads outside recommended wilderness areas - are available for bike rides but no alternative will replace the Lionhead Wilderness.

    Please urge Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson not to give in to proponents of mechanized trails. Tell her to stand by her proposal to fully protect traditional hiking and pack trails and the Lionhead Recommended Wilderness."

    Sincerely,
    Kathy Kilmer
    The Wilderness Society

    I implore anyone who hasn't written yet to help us keep the trails in this area open. The CDT segment being most important. Remember, corridors can work in order to acheive both wilderness and allow a continued bike route.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  22. #22
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    deadline extended

    Found out over the weekend that the deadline has been extended to July 28.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

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    Coffin Lake 7-6-08

    Only three riders showed up on this ride. Three others joined up later on. The West Yellowstone bike shop, Freeheel and Wheel, sends intermediate riders to this alpine lake, as it has a recently rebuilt trail, and an easier grade. This year, the creek crossing was especially deep.
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    Sheep Lake trail 7-6-08

    This day had a great turnout, and was the only ride I was able to attend. Glad I did. Stunning scenery, lots of runoff, an active landscape. Fourteen folks showed up, We basically spread out in two groups along the trail. Met one group of hikers, one group on horses, and a group of folks fishing at the lake. Uphill took about 3 hours and was exhausting. We had to ditch the bikes and hike the last 1/2 mile because of lingering snow. This trail is technical to an extreme. I was worked both ways. It is worth riding these trails, experiencing the setting, and it is worth advocating for bike access on these trails.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  25. #25
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    Sheep Lake pics

    With the hammerhead kids well out in front, I will treat you to pics of the old guys.
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  26. #26
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    and a few more...
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  27. #27
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    sheep lake fini
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  28. #28
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    Bull Hockey

    Makes me sad Greg to hear that people actually believe that we don't care about protecting the areas we ride in.

    When I was at Quiet Comotion this year, I pointed out to USFS that the MTB groups in Montana and Idaho wanted to work WITH the Northern Region to help preserve those quiet and beautiful areas. I hope that point isn't lost when she receives those comments. I'll try to get a hold of her to touch base. Hopefully she still remembers me.
    Last edited by Visicypher; 07-15-2008 at 09:28 PM. Reason: Typos
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  29. #29
    jalepenio jimenez
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    Sent my comment

    Greg, Chris, Al, and everyone else, thanks for fighting the good fight for all of us out here in pedal pusher land.

    I get so angry when the likes of the Wilderness Society steps all over the toes of the biking ciommunity at large. Are they blind to the mutual advocacy that we bikers have towards protected open space? It definitely gives credence to the argument by Bill Dart, one time Idaho rep for Blue Ribbon Coalition, that bikers and motorized should battle together for access (an argument I find hard to swallow.)

    Good luck with this fight. Time will tell. If this goes down in victory for you, we all (America) win.

    Jim Pendleton
    Boise
    Last edited by mudflap; 07-16-2008 at 06:50 AM.
    White Clouds - Heart of Idaho
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  30. #30
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    Greg,
    Have you contacted Denny Rehberg, Max Baucaus or John Tester. I would believe that they may be sympathetic. Help from a congresman/senator would go along ways. Heck, even Pres. Bush who mountain bikes may be remotely interested.
    James
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    Sent my comments

    Sorry to see any trail lost, there aren't many good ones any more. I miss the good ol days. I'll get off the soap box now.

  32. #32
    surfer w/out waves
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    what kind of environmental activists don't like mtb'rs??? Unfortunately my state is flat and I can't enjoy the sick trails that you all have... But seriously, what is the other sides argument against riding on the trails? Or is it secretly backed by developers?

    Please direct me to the right thread if this one is not the appropriate one for my question.
    "Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government!..." -- Dennis the Peasant

  33. #33
    Wandervans
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    Quote Originally Posted by havnmonkey
    what kind of environmental activists don't like mtb'rs??? Unfortunately my state is flat and I can't enjoy the sick trails that you all have... But seriously, what is the other sides argument against riding on the trails? Or is it secretly backed by developers?

    Please direct me to the right thread if this one is not the appropriate one for my question.
    They want to kick all of the mountain bikers off so they can have an easier time designating the area as wilderness and thus raise more money for their cause. Enviromentalist have had a long history of kicking bikes off of trails around the country. Wilderness groups have been working for years to pass NREPA(http://www.wildrockiesalliance.org/issues/nrepa/) and then we would not have any place to ride.

    Hopefully times are changing and people realize that you don't need to kick a user group out to keep an area pristine and primitive.

    Chris
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  34. #34
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    It also makes them feel good about themselves. Their wilderness experiance is the right experiance and every other user does not know how to properly enjoy wild places. They need to teach the dirty heathens a lesson on how a proper person spends time communing with nature. They believe that bikes disturb wilderness while they let their stupid dogs run around chasing deer, but thats alright since dogs arn't mechanized and deer like to be chased. It really is pure arrogance.
    Sierra Club Sucks

  35. #35
    surfer w/out waves
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    okay, cuz I'm one of the most vehement environmentalists around... and I think MTB is good for the wilderness. As long as we pick up after ourselves, the trails don't really harm anything... especially not as much as fences, roads, strip malls, dams, railroads, oil pipelines, and etc.


    EDIT: So I checked out that link, and it pretty much seems like a good idea to stop further developement/logging/farming in that region. Which I think many of us would be for, except they have gotten a lil too high n' mighty and proposed banning of MTB trails as well? Posers!
    "Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government!..." -- Dennis the Peasant

  36. #36
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    This is dirty business folks, These people WILL NEVER WORK WITH US! Why do you think they are saying that we want to "convert Lionhead into a freeride extreme mountain bike destinaton"? They will stop at nothing. This is the most extreme branch of the "environmental" movement. And always remember that the forest service are the ones proposing this. They are the ones with the power and the authority. I hope you nice guys are ready to stop being so nice. If we don't fight this, we are simply going to lose. This is a war. Negotiations are over. This is a mock democratic process. It is just a motion the forest service goes through to achieve their agenda. Don't take the bait! We are going to need huge money and we are going to have to battle this in court. These proposals are only the beggining. Remember also that the Government spares no expense with regards to getting their way. There is a reason congress has a 9% approval rating.

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    hmmm??? I would like to meet the congressman that is successfully "bribed" by an environmentalist... It would be kind of a weird twist to have politicians being greased by us vegetarians!!!

    I guess it would just be more proof that our elected officials pander to anyone!!!
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    I've become convinced that you can't work with wilderness folks. They have a religious zeal for keeping the "wrong" kind of people out of Americas land. It now seems that a Jihad against mountain bikers is being waged by MWA. They will lie, cheat and protest to get their narrow standards implaced. For instance convincing the FS that Lionshead will be invaded by hordes of armor clad free riders intent on destroying all the pretty flowers and killing the wildlife. These people will stop at nothing and we must fight them unless you want to only be able to ride in your back yard.
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    Hope you guys are not pussies and ready to show up in numbers when the need arrives. Trust me, it is the only way they will get it that we are not going to just sit around writing letters, waiting for the Gubment to tell us what to do. Do what they do in South America, use your right to peaceably assemble and make our voices loud and clear.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by tone capone
    Hope you guys are not pussies and ready to show up in numbers when the need arrives. ....... Do what they do in South America, use your right to peaceably assemble and make our voices loud and clear.
    Call me crazy, but we just spent half a thread discussing what douche-bags the enviros were for showing up to protest the advocacy ride. Maybe you could articulate some ideas on when/where/how to peaceably assemble....so we can all show up and prove we're not 'pussies' .

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    Comments

    Well I sent in my comments, but my comments were certainly not as good as those written by BRC's Brain Hawthorne. If you have not sent in comments then this might help you or provide good ideas for the next time around. Happy Reading...

    A. General Comment:
    BRC strongly opposes the proposal outlined in the June 9, 2008, Dear Friends of the
    Gallatin National Forest letter and accompanying maps.
    There is a fundamental problem with the way in which the Gallatin National Forest is
    attempting to manage lands with Wilderness characteristics and/or Recommended
    Wilderness Areas. The problem is this: the criteria for determining whether the lands
    have Wilderness character, or are suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness
    Preservation System, allow mountain bikes and motorized uses to exist. But the
    management rules for the same lands categorically preclude those uses. To us, this
    seems the very definition of arbitrary and capricious.
    The historic mountain bike and motorized use of these trails did not impact the
    Wilderness character. There is no logical reason why any of those uses should be
    categorically excluded from those areas. The agency should be prepared to defend this
    proposal if it decides to move forward as outlined in the June 9, 2008, letter.
    B. The Proposal Illegally Excludes Management Options for Recommended Wilderness
    Areas

    The Gallatin, like some other Forests in Region 1, seems intent on following an illogical
    and illegal management scheme for lands with Wilderness character. Only Congress
    can designate Wilderness under the Wilderness Act. The act specifically states that
    Wilderness areas are “to be composed of federally owned areas designated by
    Congress as ‘Wilderness areas’…no Federal lands shall be designated as ‘wilderness
    areas’ except as provided for in this chapter or by a subsequent act.” 16 USC §1131(a).
    Reviewing courts have agreed that this express command reserves the power to
    designate Wilderness exclusively to Congress. State of Wyoming v. U.S. Dept. of
    Agriculture, 277 F.Supp.2d 1197, 1233 (D. Wyo. 2003), vac. on other grounds, 414 F.3d
    1207 (10th Cir. 2005); Parker v. United States, 309 F.Supp. 593, 597 (D. Colo. 1970),
    aff’d, 448 F.2d 793 (10th Cir. 1971). While the Secretary of Agriculture, and therefore
    the Forest Service, certainly has responsibilities under the Wilderness Act, those duties
    are succinctly summarized as “the duty to study and recommend.” Parker, 309 F.Supp.
    at 597.
    The Forest Service simply does not have the authority to make any Wilderness-specific
    management directives until Congress has made a determination of Wilderness status.
    Off-road vehicles and mountain bikes, which are generally prohibited in designated
    Wilderness areas, but frequently enjoyed within proposed Wilderness areas, must be
    properly and effectively managed by the Forest Service in non-Wilderness areas,
    including proposed or recommended Wilderness areas.
    The Montana Wilderness Study Act of 1977 (the “MWSA”) and court orders interpreting
    that statute are relevant to this topic. In relevant part, the MWSA directs that the Forest
    Service:
    ...shall, until Congress determines otherwise, be administered by the Secretary of
    Agriculture so as to maintain their presently existing wilderness character and
    potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
    Pub.L. No. 95-150, § 3(a), 91 Stat. 1243 (1977); AR L-12 at 2. The District of Montana
    Court has offered guidance as to the interpretation of that statute:
    In short, the statute requires the Forest Service to strike—and maintain—a
    balance between wilderness character and motorized use. Because Congress
    did not require a “freeze,” it did not require that only those segments of the
    Wilderness Study Areas already open to motorized activity should remain so, or
    that those segments already closed should remain so....Instead, Congress
    required that the Forest Service ensure continuing opportunities for enjoyment of
    the study areas by use of motorized vehicles, as well as continuing opportunities
    for enjoyment of the study areas’ character qua wilderness.
    Montana Wilderness Assoc. v. U.S. Forest Service, 146 F.Supp.2d 1118, 1124-1125
    (D.Mont. 2001), rev’d on other grounds, 314 F.3d 1146 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. granted and
    judgment vacated by, BlueRibbon Coalition v. Montana Wilderness Assoc., and
    Veneman v. Montana Wilderness Assoc., 124 S.Ct. 2870 (2004).
    This interpretation specifically rejected any suggestion that the MWSA required the
    Forest Service to “maintain each [WSA] exactly as it existed in 1977.” Id. at 1124. While
    all of this analysis was arguably vacated by the Supreme Court, it seems an appropriate
    foundation upon which to analyze the MWSA in the Decision.
    Many of the areas potentially affected by the Regional policy on recommended
    Wilderness lands have experienced meaningful historical use by motorized and/or
    mechanized vehicles. The Gallatin National Forest, apparently through application of the
    Regional policy, has placed itself and the recreating public in an awkward “catch 22” by
    inappropriately defining lands with Wilderness potential and/or recommended
    Wilderness that have long received meaningful motorized/mechanized access. The
    proposal advances a legally flawed doctrinal view that recommended Wilderness lands
    should be cleansed of all “non-conforming” uses. Yet these lands were imbued with
    “almost Wilderness” status when designated during Forest plan generation, which is
    NOT designed to thoroughly, let alone conclusively, determine on-the-ground status or
    future project-level management prescriptions.
    In short, each Forest should revisit the proper management of these areas in terms of
    their actual use, their existing recreational infrastructure, and their effective management
    into the future pending any Congressional action designating them, or removing them
    from consideration, as Wilderness. There is no logical or legal basis for treating these
    lands with a “hands off” policy or elimination of historic access.
    C. The agency is misinterpreting Congressional intent in managing the Continental
    Divide National Scenic Trail.

    Like all National Scenic Trails, the CDNST was established by Congress 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." Congress has stated that the potential uses for National
    Scenic Trails (excepting the Appalachian Trail) include, but are not limited to, "bicycling,
    cross-country skiing, day hiking, equestrian activities, jogging or similar fitness activities,
    trail biking, overnight and long-distance backpacking ..." (16 USC §1246).
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    [QUOTE=venom600]Call me crazy, but we just spent half a thread discussing what douche-bags the enviros were for showing up to protest the advocacy ride. Maybe you could articulate some ideas on when/where/how to peaceably assemble....so we can all show up and prove we're not 'pussies'

    I mean when there is actually going to be real resistance, after they shut down the trails. Yes it takes actual balls to protest something after it becomes unjustly illegal. Are you going to be a good little sheep when the Government tells you you no longer have the right to ride these trails? I'm just saying that I hope we are ready to make a presence after the laws pass as well as before. A bunch of granola crunchers at the trailhead with cardboard signs are not going to be the ones to "arrest" you for riding the trails. An advocacy ride was a great idea and I wish I could have been there. However, as this confrontation evolves, I think we need to be prepared to resist actual authority when the time comes. It's what people have done for all time when they have conviction and are willing to stand for something that has profound meaning and value to them. You with me?
    Last edited by tone capone; 07-18-2008 at 02:00 PM.

  43. #43
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    [QUOTE=tone capone]
    Quote Originally Posted by venom600
    Call me crazy, but we just spent half a thread discussing what douche-bags the enviros were for showing up to protest the advocacy ride. Maybe you could articulate some ideas on when/where/how to peaceably assemble....so we can all show up and prove we're not 'pussies'

    I mean when there is actually going to be real resistance, after they shut down the trails. Yes it takes actual balls to protest something after it becomes unjustly illegal. Are you going to be a good little sheep when the Government tells you you no longer have the right to ride these trails? I'm just saying that I hope we are ready to make a presence after the laws pass as well as before. A bunch of granola crunchers at the trailhead with cardboard signs are not going to be the ones to "arrest" you for riding the trails. An advocacy ride was a great idea and I wish I could have been there. However, as this confrontation evolves, I think we need to be prepared to resist actual authority when the time comes. It's what people have done for all time when they have conviction and are willing to stand for something that has profound meaning and value to them. You with me?
    If this goes through as orginally intended it will surely end up in court. The forest service justifiction for the closer clearly does not have a leg to stand on. There is considerable case law on the side of mountain bikers and hopefully IMBA will intervene with its legal fund.
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    That is what I believe to be the best idea. That is one way we can FIGHT BACK!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idiot Boy 1
    I've become convinced that you can't work with wilderness folks.
    Sorry to hear it; but I'll keep that in mind.
    Last edited by David Witherspoon; 07-26-2008 at 08:34 PM.

  46. #46
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    Lionhead is NOT wilderness.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Witherspoon
    Sorry to hear it; but I'll keep that in mind.
    In Montana you CAN NOT work with them. I lived there for years and understand that MWA is made up of extremists who are hell bent on eliminating bicylist from all trails. Friends of mine were protested by members of the MWA for riding on a LEGAL trail which had been open and ridden by mountain bikers for decades. A news letter went out to MWA members saying mountain bikers want it all and are unwilling to compromise about Lionhead even though MWA are the ones who are advocating for the removal of bikes. Bikes are the sole target of this proposal. MWA hates bicyclists, period. They are far more radical than SOC. You at SOC in Utah seem a bit more flexible but only because you see more biker organization in SLC. SOC also has the realization that their proposal to shut down Mill D to bikes has a very slim chance of success with the present Utah congressional delegation. Ask your self this, would I be willing to not ski wilderness areas to protect them? You wouldn't. Whats the differance between your enjoyment in winter and our enjoyment in summer? Both are exploring the backcountry in an efficient manner. And the Lionhead IS NOT WILDERNESS. You keep that in mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idiot Boy 1
    You wouldn't.
    I would.
    You don't sound like you could work with anybody - all venom and no grace.
    SOC & IMBA's Wilderness Proposal would not close Mill D to bikes.
    I don't know MWA or the Lionhead, so I've left it to those who do.

    'cept when IMBA's national email alert on the issue came my way ...

  48. #48
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    I don't know MWA or the Lionhead, so I've left it to those who do.

    Then don't comment on a thread that you have no understanding about. MWA declared war on mountain bikes so excuse me if I have venom and anger you self rightous concern troll. You don't even mountain bike so why are you on MTBR? You've never been to these trails that they want to close off. In fact you have advocated in the past to eliminate mountain biking on trails in the Wasatch. And yeah, SOC is working with IMBA now, but thats because they have to. Why don't you go do something constructive and wax your tele's for next winter.
    Sierra Club Sucks

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    Heh. Like everyone who posted their self righteous venom here has ridden those trails?

    Judging from your posts, past and present, I figure I understand the issues better than you. Idiot Boy.

    Why don't you go do something constructive? There's a first time for everything, y'know. After the initial pain, you might enjoy it.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Witherspoon
    Heh. Like everyone who posted their self righteous venom here has ridden those trails?
    Maybe not everyone has ridden these trails, but at least we would like to have the opportunity to ride them at one point in our lives. MWA wants to kick bikes off so they can more easily designate these areas as Wilderness.

    I think most mountain bikers simply want to be able to ride in scenic places.
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    I'm sure you're right, on both counts.

    (1) Since "you never seen it, you ain't frum 'roun heer, so shuddup (unless you agree with me)" is such a common refrain, it has to be shot down regularly. The easiest way is to show the double standard that always lurks underneath, as in Idiot's post.

    (2) Not only do most MTBers want ro ride in scenic places - most dirtbikers and fourwheelers like to drive on scenic places. Hikers like to hike in scenic places. Wildlife - they prolly like to live in wild places. Dunno if they care about the scenery.

    And most McMansion developers want to build in scenic places, so the Wall Street / L.A. refugees can retire to a scenic place, and then they'll want to dine in fine style in a scenic place, which means they'll need a fine restaurant on that scenic place, along with the loading docks, employee housing, highways, gas stations, all the usual city services, the WalMart for all the service sector employees to shop at ...

    The reason the four-wheelers aren't satisfied with the 90% of the world they get to drive all over is because it's no longer a scenic place - due in no small part to the mess vehicles have made of it.

    The furor isn't about mountain bikes vs. boots. It's about what happens to landscapes that aren't protected. Wilderness is the strongest protection available. It precludes bikes. That forces a choice between the strongest protection possible and the use of bikes. Everyone I know would rather not have to make that choice, but there it is.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Witherspoon
    I'm sure you're right, on both counts.

    (1) Since "you never seen it, you ain't frum 'roun heer, so shuddup (unless you agree with me)" is such a common refrain, it has to be shot down regularly. The easiest way is to show the double standard that always lurks underneath, as in Idiot's post.

    (2) Not only do most MTBers want ro ride in scenic places - most dirtbikers and fourwheelers like to drive on scenic places. Hikers like to hike in scenic places. Wildlife - they prolly like to live in wild places. Dunno if they care about the scenery.

    And most McMansion developers want to build in scenic places, so the Wall Street / L.A. refugees can retire to a scenic place, and then they'll want to dine in fine style in a scenic place, which means they'll need a fine restaurant on that scenic place, along with the loading docks, employee housing, highways, gas stations, all the usual city services, the WalMart for all the service sector employees to shop at ...

    The reason the four-wheelers aren't satisfied with the 90% of the world they get to drive all over is because it's no longer a scenic place - due in no small part to the mess vehicles have made of it.

    The furor isn't about mountain bikes vs. boots. It's about what happens to landscapes that aren't protected. Wilderness is the strongest protection available. It precludes bikes. That forces a choice between the strongest protection possible and the use of bikes. Everyone I know would rather not have to make that choice, but there it is.
    I think all the so-called environmentalist and wilderness advocates must get the same cheat sheet every year with there development mumbo-jumbo. How soon they forget that the largest and most recent sell off of public land was courtesy of the Nevada Wilderness Bill which allowed the auctioning off of 100,000 acres of federal land in exchange for 770,000 acres of Wilderness. You can fit a lot of Mc-Mansions on 100k acres, too bad for all the baby ground squirrels that will get plowed under.

    All of the land under discussion is National Forest land and is not up on auction block for Wal-Mart’s, Homes or other dwellings. There is no bill in congress to sell off the Lionshead area unless the MWA is going to sell the area off so they can get wilderness designated somewhere else.

    This land is protected right now by its WSA designation and Mountain Biking does not impair the land or infringe on the ability of Congress to designate the area as wilderness. If the wilderness advocates were really concerned about the land then they would seek to formally designate the land with an act of congress such as a National Recreation Area and have the full support of the Mountain Bikers.

    When it comes down to it I would much rather have a beer and ride with IdiotBoy. When was the last time you rode David?


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  53. #53
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    We'll be riding the Lionhead

    Quote Originally Posted by smilycook
    When it comes down to it I would much rather have a beer and ride with IdiotBoy.
    Speaking of riding and beers a buddy of mine and I are riding in that area either the second or third weekend in August. Probably be some people from Bozeman and Missoula joining us. We usually get a varied group between 4 to 10 riders depending on schedules. You had expressed intrest in riding up there, will keep you posted if you want to join us.
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  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idiot Boy 1
    Speaking of riding and beers a buddy of mine and I are riding in that area either the second or third weekend in August. Probably be some people from Bozeman and Missoula joining us. We usually get a varied group between 4 to 10 riders depending on schedules. You had expressed intrest in riding up there, will keep you posted if you want to join us.
    IB1
    Keep me posted for sure. I missed the first ride, but want to ride this before the season's over.

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  55. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by smilycook
    ... rant ...
    All of this last
    Maybe so, maybe no.
    Regardless, I'd be an idiot boy to take your anonymous internet word for it.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Witherspoon
    Maybe so, maybe no.
    Regardless, I'd be an idiot boy to take your anonymous internet word for it.
    You don't need to take my anonymous internet word, instead you can read the actual sources were my information orginated. HR4593(2004)

    http://www.nevadawilderness.org/item..._bill_text.pdf
    http://www.hcn.org/issues/282/14989
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    Thanks for the links. I didn't doubt your specific statements on the Nevada swap, nor your mention of the Lionshead WSA. You did, however, make a number of other claims and assumptions that I'm not gonna buy, and it was those that I was referring to. Same as this discussion.

  58. #58
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    David, Do you actually mountain bike? What was the last trail you rode.

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    Most recently? that'd be a little local loop involving a piece of the BST.

    Why does it matter to you?

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    Finding myself car camping with the family at wade/cliff lakes, I planned ahead and negotiated my own solo mission on Saturday to sheep lake to see what all the fuss was about myself.

    What took me so long?

    What can we do so that my daughter can ride it in a decade or so? What will it look like then?

    The trail reminds me of what I suspect Emerald was like before it was loved (widened) to death -- I've always thought the hiker/biker types could / should find common ground around building good trails and keeping them skinny...

    Anyways enough griping -- a few recent shots of Sheep Lake and surrounding environs:

    Pre-ride repair (all praise to the chain tool and broken link removal)
    95% trail is buttery smooth singletrack -- if only I were in better shape for the climb
    Some portions of the lower trail were in need of more traffic
    Can you spot the singletrack?
    Finally at the lake.
    Better Sheep Lake shot.
    Still lots of flowers in the high country!
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