The new Forest Service Chief- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    The new Forest Service Chief

    I just can't quite believe that mountain bikers are this clueless. While planning and building these little pieces of trail (I do it too), others are scheming to take much more away.

    While you are loving the land and digging the flow of the trails with your bikes and brains, a regional forester has devised a way to eliminate bicycling from hundreds of miles of trails. Gail Kimbell, the head forester from Missoula, MT. has created a policy to direct the forest supervisers to ban bicycling from recommended wilderness during the forest planning process. The supervisors are required to identify areas suitible for wilderness, which they call "recommended wilderness". Gail directs them in the forest planning guidelines to ban bicycles from these places. These are places where we have ridden for 25 years. She can create defacto wilderness on a large scale without going through congress. Now she has become the new Chief of the Forest Service. She told our group she wanted her region to be the leader for the nations forests. Now she can do it. She will now take her policy to every national forest.

    Now what can we do? First join IMBA, this organization needs lots of support. Then what do we do? Fight all recommended wilderness? Fight Gails policy? Lets hear from you.

    The name of this forum is "save the trails", now we are in for the biggest saving test we've ever faced.

    Greg

  2. #2
    beer thief
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    Damn, this can't be legal.

    Here's a link to a story on her promotion: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070113/...rest_service_6

    And a link to last summer's Montana action alert: http://www.ffor.org/index.php?option...id=49&Itemid=1

  3. #3
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    Yeah, it might not be legal. One thing for sure, it puts mtn. bikers into a second class position instantly during the public comment process.

  4. #4
    Log off and go ride!
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    The Chief of the Forest Service does not have the legal authority to issue blanket bans like that on potential Wilderness. Nor do Regional Foresters. Only Congress can designate Wilderness. Individual National Forests can issue local regulations on particular trails, but by law must follow the legal process, including public comment periods.

    Also remember the Forest Service is by design a very decentralized organization. The Chief has far less authority than most people believe. On-the-ground decisions are made by local District Rangers and Forest Supervisors, and higher levels have only limited powers to overturn decisions made by the lower levels. Previous White House administrations of both parties have learned this the hard way. Local decisions are difficult to overrule by executive fiat from Washington DC (which is why they run to Federal judges to get the FS to do what they want. The Pres just cannot order it done). This is one major area of difference between the Forest Service and the Dept of Interior agencies (NPS, BLM, FWS, etc).

    Locally the FS management are generally supportive of mountain bikes, and the rank-and-file, i.e. recreation and law enforcement folks, have already publicly stated they will ignore any further restrictions on mountain bikes and not enforce any new regulations restricting MTBs to specific trails and areas.

    The key to maintaining access to NF land is not lobbying nationally -- it is getting involved locally. Contact your local NF and get on the SOPA mailing list (Schedule of Proposed Actions) (some NFs put them on their web site). The SOPA is a list of upcoming projects and managment decisions to be made for the upcoming quarter. By law the FS must announce these in advance and cannot initiate any action or decision that was not on the SOPA.

  5. #5
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    don't be so sure

    We are involved locally. We build and repair trails, put up safety and informational signs. The forest managers who are rank and file, not involved with planning, are quite supportive of mountain biking. We have good relationships and are involved with projects and planning at that level. We also are involved in the public comment process.

    Fact remains that a directive has come from higher up and we traced it to Gail Kimbell. If it goes higher, she wasn't talking. Every National Forest in Region 1 that has recommended Wilderness has in their forest plan "no bikes in Recommended Wilderness".

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