I was contacted last weekend by a member of the TMTB.com boards, Bryan Burnside, and by email earlier this week by Barb Oslund of the NC Horse Council's Trails committee regarding the recent hearings in Greenville and Raleigh where the possible opening of Sunday to hunting was the main topic. According to the correspondence from Barb, the consultants from Virginia Tech had informed all the recreational stakeholder groups of the meetings, including mountain bikers. Obviously, this information was incorrect. Barb was concerned that no mountain bikers were present at either meeting, which was why she contacted me. I responded to her email to let her know that, prior to this weekend, I knew nothing of these meetings, or the Sunday hunting initiative by the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC).

I also offered to meet with her and the NCHC to discuss the possiblility of working together in the Triangle, and throughout the state with the other SORBA chapters, to work towards gaining trail access on the public lands we are currently being shut out of by the WRC, DEHNR and the Corp of Engineers. Barb responded on a positive note, and she expressed a particular interest in combining forces in the Triangle in particular to work towards trail access. We owe a debt to Bryan and Barb for bringing to our attention this threat to open Sundays to hunting. One of the effects this would have for TORC locally would to be to close the New Light trail system to riding completely for eight months of the year. It would also mean that rides in Uwharrie and Pisgah National Forests would be hazardous seven days a week during hunting season instead of just six.

Although we have missed the local meetings (to the Triangle area), you can still make comments online at:

http://www.ncwildlife.org/sunday_hunt/sunday_hunt.htm

I submitted my comments earlier this morning online. I stated my opposition to Sunday hunting as an outdoor recreationist who only felt safe one day a week during the eight months of the year that there are active hunting seasons. I also commented on the steadily declining number of licensed hunters in the state, and their even smaller percentage of the overall population of the state, particularly as we have experienced such explosive growth over the last three decades. I don't think that such a small minority of the state's population should have the exclusive use of such a large portion of the state's lands for eight months of the year. I even made the point that hunting on publicly owned lands should probably be cut back from present levels given the small minority of North Carolinians who actually hunt anymore.

I ask that all of you who are serious about mountain biking and your right to ride should participate in this online comment period. If you don't then you may find that your legal riding options will be shrinking in the future. Sunday hunting is currently prohibited by legislation, and can only be changed by the legislature. The WRC would like to see Sundays opened to hunting, but they will have a difficult time in convincing the legislature to make a change if the majority of the public comments are in opposition to such a change. You have my thanks in advance for participating in the democratic process in support of mountain biking.

Sincerely,

Bill Camp
President
Triangle Off-Road Cyclists
A SORBA Chapter