The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains- Mtbr.com
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    The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains

    Sooooooooo, busted!

    by GEORGE WUERTHNER on DECEMBER 11, 2018

    Recently the Helena National Forest released a scoping letter on a proposal to create 39 miles of mountain biking (aka thrill biker) trails in the Strawberry Butte area of the northern Elkhorn Wildlife Management Area.

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/ww...T3_4486872.pdf

    In its scoping letter, the FS notes that “Since 2001, the Forest has observed an increase in recreational use within the project area. This increase in use has resulted in a proliferation of user created trails, some of which intrude into riparian areas and other important wildlife areas. These resource concerns have lead us to take action to address impacts in this area.”

    The Scoping Letter goes on to note “The purpose of the project is to enhance non-motorized trail opportunities in the front country and reduce the potential for development of user-created routes into the backcountry of the Elkhorn Mountains.” In other words, the FS hopes that by legalizing some Thrill biker created trails, it will preclude continued development of more illegal trails.

    Indeed, the FS scoping letters admits that some of the illicit trails thrill bikers have commandeered include game trails. If game trails become thrill bike trails, where does the wildlife go? The fact is that the wildlife does not have anyplace else to go. We already use a disproportionate amount of the landscape. The purpose of the Elkhorn “Wildlife Management” designation was to put wildlife first, and other uses second. Unfortunately, this capitulation to thrill bikes makes recreation the priority.

    However, thrill bikers also displace hikers. This is not unlike the social displacement that occurs when snowmobiles use the same trails as xc skiers. Heavy use by mechanical users like thrill bikers tend to displace hikers and horse people from trails they have used for decades.

    That is why any new or increased use by bikes must be given serious evaluation of the impacts on other public values. That is not to suggest there are not some areas appropriate for biking, but the Elkhorns are not one of them.

    The Elkhorns were originally proposed as wilderness but bowing to political pressure to reduce wilderness acreage in several wilderness bills, the Elkhorns were instead given a special designation as a wildlife management area. Wilderness classification preclude bikes, but wildlife management area does not—a lesson that conservation groups have failed to appreciate as they advocate other “alternative designations” to wilderness like wildlife management areas for places like the Gallatin Range.

    As with the Elkhorns even if an alternative management scheme is done with the best intentions, one has to rely upon institutional memory and the good graces of managers. Wilderness designation is the gold standard that provides permanent and legal protection that is time tested.

    One of the characteristics of many thrill bikers is an outlaw mentality. As noted in its scoping letter, Thrill bikers regularly flout the law creating illegal trails throughout our public lands without any input or oversight of land management agencies. These rogue actors create trails willy nilly without regard to impacts on wildlife, watersheds, spread of weeds, and other conservation values.

    With the development of electric thrill bikes, the ability to impact even more of the land will increase since previously remote areas will be accessible to thrill bikers.

    In reaction to the proliferation of illegal trails in the Elkhorns, the forest service is now going to make many of these trails “legal”. That is a common agency response which thrill bikers depend upon to legalize their outlaw actions.

    While I can understand the desire of the FS to manage some of these uses by formally legalizing the existence of rogue trails, hoping this will preclude more illegal trail construction, the policy of accommodating outlaws, only begets more outlaw activity.

    Imagine if the MDFWP in response to rampant poaching of deer, merely increased the areas open to deer hunting and increased the number of deer that one could legally take? That is what the FS is essentially doing by legalizing the criminal trail building.

    Mind you this is a situation unique to thrill bikers throughout the country. You don’t find bird watchers, wildflower enthusiasts, hikers or other public lands users going out and creating new trails without permission or oversight, but it is very common among the thrill biker crowd.

    Another common ploy is to publish these illegal trails on apps for phones that advertises their location, creating more constituents for the trails.

    The FS is proposing to use a categorical exclusion to legalize the 39 miles of trails. That is, they are not going to analyze the cumulative impact of creating miles of new trails and an increase in thrill bike use effects on wildlife. What is the cumulative impact on wildlife from the existing trail system combined with 39 additional miles of trails? The FS isn’t analyzing this.

    In addition, what about the aforementioned social conflict of increased use of existing trails by thrill bikers? Will this cause hikers to abandon these trails?

    And what about the increased road traffic into what is now a relatively lightly used area of the Elkhorns. How will that affect wildlife?

    My organization, Mountain bikers for Wilderness, is the only biking group that puts conservation ahead of recreation and is strongly opposed to the FS plan to expand thrill biking in the Elkhorns.

    You can look long and hard at thrill biker web sites to find a mention of the word conservation or preservation of wildlife or wildlands. The common mantra is we “need” more trails. More. More. More. Thrill bikers (aka mountain bikers) are now the greatest threat to many wildlands across the West. As a group, the word self-restraint is not part of their vocabulary.

    Unfortunately, the creation of new trails and increase in thrill biking on existing trails has many impacts that federal and state agencies ignore.

    For instance, any number of studies have shown that elk and other wildlife flee from thrill bikers at far greater distance than hikers. One study found: “Probability of a flight response declined most rapidly during hiking, with little effect when hikers were beyond 550 yards from an elk. By contrast, higher probabilities of elk flight continued beyond 1,640 yards from mountain bike and ATV rider.” “Higher probabilities of (elk) flight response occurred during ATV and mountain bike activity, in contrast to lower probabilities observed during hiking and horseback riding.”

    Given that you can cover many more miles on a thrill bike than walking, the ecological impacts on wildlife from a single thrill biker is far greater than the effect of a hiker. This is something the Forest Service is ignoring—in a wildlife management area!

    The increasing use of “snow bikes” also means this area could see increasing use in winter months, and again because of the distances that can be traveled, thrill bikes may have far greater impacts on wildlife at the time when they are most vulnerable to stress.

    These are questions the FS is avoiding by use of the Categorical Exclusion. But it goes beyond this one area, thrill bikers are absconding numerous trails around Helena, and creating new rogue trails so that there are virtually no bike free areas.

    Worse by legalizing illicit trail creation, these agencies reward the outlaws. What the FS should do is ban all use of any trails that have not explicitly been evaluated for the impact of thrill biking on wildlife, vegetation, watersheds, and as well as existing users.

    And to the degree possible, thrill bike use should be separated from other non-mechanical use like hiking and horseback riding just as snowmobile use is often segregated from xc skiers.

    What the Elkhorns need is a comprehensive plan for the entire range. Thrill biking is a growing issue throughout the range.

    You can submit comments to [email protected].

    The subject line must contain “Strawberry Butte Front Country Trail Management Project.”
    Elkhorn Wildlife Area MT threatened by thrill bikers | The Wildlife News

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    Mind you this is a situation unique to thrill bikers throughout the country. You don’t find bird watchers, wildflower enthusiasts, hikers or other public lands users going out and creating new trails without permission or oversight, but it is very common among the thrill biker crowd.
    You've got to be kidding me. Has he not ever heard the term "social trails"? Has he not ever hiked near a river where there are unofficial trails that go along the banks or in areas that back up to neighborhoods?

    Pro tip: If you are writing a piece to try to influence people to your viewpoint, don't scream your bias out by substituting obviously exaggerated terms for your opponents. It weakens your argument and makes it obvious that you are not open to a civilized discussion. And I see that he is using ebikes to strengthen his argument that they will allow people to travel further and do more damage.
    This post is a natural product. Variances in spelling & grammar should be appreciated as part of its character & beauty.

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    It’s okay guys, he is talking about “thrill bikers”, whatever that is. We just mountain bike so are therefore not in scope of his rant
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    Follow the $, then look in the mirror. From comments section of article...

    It has become a mind set with the both the sports hardware manufacturers and public land managers that areas should be created to allow increased access to assist in creating a demand to sell more recreational hardware and to allow people to vent their frustration through fantasies about “breaking” a new frontier.

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    Is that you Mike V.?
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    I don't know what a thrill biker is, never heard of one. In addition to using made up terms for something I don't really understand, it's clear they've never actually been on a trail of any type, whether a dedicated MTB trail, or one used for horses or hikers or all of the above. I've rarely been on a trail in the woods, even when it's less than 100 acres located in the middle of a city, that didn't have significant deer usage of every manmade trail, which is easily identifiable by tracks left in the trail. It's also clear that they've never seen the difference in reactions deer have to seeing a person walking vs seeing a person on a bike.

    In the future, I'm going to save myself the trouble of being exposed to this sort of stupidity by not clicking on anything this user posts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    ...

    In the future, I'm going to save myself the trouble of being exposed to this sort of stupidity by not clicking on anything this user posts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    In the future, I'm going to save myself the trouble of being exposed to this sort of stupidity by not clicking on anything this user posts.
    good plan. all he ever posts are links to left wing nutjob websites, anyway. I'm amazed he's not banned yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    all he ever posts are links to left wing nutjob websites, anyway. .
    Yup, real nut jobs..... About | The Wildlife News

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    Having a degree or a short bio on your webpage does not make you a nutjob. It also doesn't validate their opinions.

    This is backcountry bigotry. It's not like bikers or bike manufacturers are any different than ski/hike/tack manufacturers and people who choose to go into the backcountry in those ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aoliver View Post
    Having a degree or a short bio on your webpage does not make you a nutjob.
    Look at his post history. He posts links from whackos almost exclusively.

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    I think most of us here are very much nature lovers and all for conservation. But that article was off the deep end with the "thrill bikers" and how hikers never cause any harm. Yes, I'm sure there are plenty of mountain bikers who make illegal trails. But it seems like a lot of damage is done by hikers, the goblin topplers and that so called artist who was spray painting really crap "art" at National Parks come to mind. It's hard to carve your initials into a Beech tree when you're going past it at 8 mph. And someone (Crankout?) posted in another thread how the rangers in his area liked having mountain bikers night riding as it helped keep the nefarious types at bay.
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    I can't wait to thrill bike tomorrow morning. If it's anything like riding my Mountain bike I'm gonna effing love it.

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    I live in Helena. I know these trails and the local issues. I also understand the NEPA process. The author fails on all those counts.

    Subdivisions surrounding this area frequently have elk grazing in lawns. The only human activity that really impacts big game is recreational killing.

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    If you want to compare which user group tends to stay on designated trails, and which doesn't, toggle between pedestrians and bikers on the Strava Global Heat map. It's been enlightening to my local pro hiker/less biker friends.

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    Georgie the thrill biker... and thrill slider. How in God's good Earth does this man justify the habitat destruction and wild life disruption of the ski resorts that he shreds at?


    The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains-gw-bike.jpg

    The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains-gw-bike2.jpg

    The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains-gw-ski.jpg

    The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains-gw-ski2.jpg

    Georgie's son is a knuckle-dragger:

    The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains-gws-kid.jpg

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    This chucklehead seriously misrepresents the situation on the ground and the USFS project in order to pound his chest and proclaim the superiority of his choices.

    The USFS proposal is for multi-use trails, not MTB trials. His entire post is based on a deliberate lie.

    Further, the existing routes have been there for decades. They’re old roads, cattle trails, and the like. The amount of deliberate singletrack construction here is very small. They’re used and (illegally, since they’re not system) maintained by a broad spectrum of locals- many of whom are on foot or horses.

    Going on about wilderness values is nonsense. The area is surrounded by roads, and near I-15. It’s also surrounded by subdivisions and prime subdividable land. The existing situation of widely used nonsystem trails needs to change. The proposal actually cuts the existing trail mileage by about half, and relocates some routes from sensitive areas. It provides public access to some parts of the forest that are locked up by people with large inholdings who have created their own routes and private hunting reserves on public land. It’s a win for all users and the resource, but reactionaries gotta react.

    Get bent, George.

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    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to evasive again.

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    Love how he compares wildlife response to ATV and Bike as the same. If that the case how come so many hikers are "startled" when casually come up behind them and say "hello".
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    The research on flight response to different modes of recreation has a major flaw- it doesn’t control for hunting. Everyone points to Wisdom et al.’s work in the Starkey Experimental Forest where they made transects through an elk herd with different modes of travel. But that is a hunted population, and it’s much more vigilant WRT humans than an unhunted population. Everyone who’s visited Yellowstone NP has seen that unhunted elk really don’t GAF about humans.

    Linkage of flight response to negative impacts seems pretty speculative. Big game species adapt to humans pretty easily. During hunting season they hang out on private land where they know they won’t get shot. And as I mentioned- the subdivisions in the Elkhorn foothills have lots of elk in them. There are plenty of places with issues from urban wildlife. Here in Helena, the city culls several hundred mule deer in the winter. A friend in Jackson was recently telling us about moose chasing his kid on the way home from school. But you don’t need research to know that hunting causes elk/deer mortality.

    The hand-wringing about wildlife is almost always really about big game species. It’s becoming a joke locally when hunting or horseback groups raise wildlife concerns. “You mean the pileated woodpecker, right?” It’s way past time for the conversation to recognize that hunting is recreation, and that how easy it is to find elk and deer on public land during our 5-week rifle season is not an ecology issue.

    What’s ironic about this stupid screed over “thrill bikers” is that our group and others have recommended slow trails by design, and that seems consistent with the USFS project. Trails that use the landscape to encourage slower exploration rather than long sustained grades and long sightlines, which encourage speed. This trail network would lend itself to slower meandering through a lower-angle foothills landscape. Which ironically seems to be the kind of riding that he’s so proud to claim is superior to “thrill biking.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harryman View Post
    If you want to compare which user group tends to stay on designated trails, and which doesn't, toggle between pedestrians and bikers on the Strava Global Heat map. It's been enlightening to my local pro hiker/less biker friends.
    I know right? It always amazes me how mountain bikers are always described as "riding off trail." Sure, there are some places where riding off trail is possible, but most of the places I've ridden, you won't make it 5 feet if you ride off the trail because you'll hit a tree, get tangled in brush, or fall off the mountain.

    Yet, go to any popular hiking trail where bikes aren't allowed, and you'll see numerous hiker created cuts on every switchback, down to every creek, lake, waterfall or overlook.

    But that's OK, cuz...THRILL BIKERS!!!!!!
    No dig no whine

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to evasive again.
    +1.
    No dig no whine

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    Really good response eva, still, I think we should just ignore this guy so he stops posting, but maybe that's just me. I'm going to work up a post about trailbuilding... give me a minute.

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    Thrillll!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ki5ka View Post
    Really good response eva, still, I think we should just ignore this guy so he stops posting, but maybe that's just me. I'm going to work up a post about trailbuilding... give me a minute.
    I agree with this generally. But Montana barely registers on this board, so when someone spews reactionary nonsense about my backyard and a project I’m familiar with, it gets at least a clarifying response.

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    I get it evasive, good point.

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    So is this poster George Wuerthner, or are there more than one nutters on this?

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    I found the meaning of “thrill bikers”on Wikipedia...... E-bikes!!
    Last edited by tom tom; 12-21-2018 at 07:57 AM.
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    Wait, is the OP the author of the quote? I took the 'sooooo, busted!' as sarcasm... If it was intended any other way than it's quite laughable.

    I especially liked the part about game being displaced when a game trail is used by humans... Has he ever been in the woods?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Wait, is the OP the author of the quote? I took the 'sooooo, busted!' as sarcasm... If it was intended any other way than it's quite laughable.

    I especially liked the part about game being displaced when a game trail is used by humans... Has he ever been in the woods?
    I doubt it. tungsten is a nutter and gravitates to websites with nutters. He likes to share links to all sorts of nutter articles on mtbr to rile people up. He gets away with it because he doesn't really say much of anything of his own...just shares the links.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I doubt it. tungsten is a nutter and gravitates to websites with nutters. He likes to share links to all sorts of nutter articles on mtbr to rile people up. He gets away with it because he doesn't really say much of anything of his own...just shares the links.
    I noticed this too. He rarely ever types words himself or expresses any kind of opinion. There is a rule against Spam though. Although he's not selling anything and it's not automated, posting without actually participating should be considered Spam.

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    Should trail runners be allowed to use the same trails as hikers? Should Thrill Hunters be allowed to hunt in the same season and in the same areas as game hunters? Should hunters be forced to remain on marked trails like all other user groups? Better yet, should 10-20 percent of our national forests be turned into game refuges free of human harvesting of the animals therein? Is the only reason large animals are allowed to exist at all so that they can be the object of Thrill Shooting? Questions ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    Is that you Mike V.?
    I came here to say that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    Should Thrill Hunters be allowed to hunt in the same season and in the same areas as game hunters?
    No, because then the game hunters would go extinct. Obviously.


    should 10-20 percent of our national forests be turned into game refuges free of human harvesting of the animals therein?

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    For those not familiar with George Wuerthner, years ago he actually had a pretty even keeled (if rather restrictive) view of mountain biking. Not sure what has made the change, but over the years, he has gotten angrier and weirder with his beliefs regarding mountain biking.

    Look, I want more wilderness too. Actually, I want more than George does. (Book recommendation - Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life by E.O. Wilson ) But let's be clear about this: There is the perfect and the achievable. George views wilderness in a religious sense. That is The Wilderness Act was written with the finger of God and Wilderness, as an object, is pure and perfect therefore must remain untainted. That is a fundamentalist point of view. Just as religious fundamentalist's believe their version of the sacred text is correct and are willing to kill to maintain it, increasingly it feels like the Wilderness fundamentalists are willing to do the same. Honestly, if I woke up tomorrow to see that George or his ilk suicide bombed STC's headquarters or something, I would not be shocked. It would be a logical progression of their beliefs quite frankly.

    The thing is, if these believers in the perfect would become believers in the achievable, we could get pretty close to 50% wilderness in the USA without breaking a sweat. But that would mean we look at impacts fairly. Horses (which have a huge impact) can't be OK and mountain bikes (which have a small impact) can not. It also means we have to be willing to bend a bit. I'm not a fan of ATVs and their impacts, but if allowing ATVs in this 2,000 acres of land lets me protect this other 5,000 acres of land, that is a win in my book.
    Last edited by CycleKrieg; 12-31-2018 at 12:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    Horses (which have a huge impact) can't be OK and mountain bikes (which have a small impact) can not.
    That's an apples to oranges comparision. Horse trails can remain static for centurys. Mtb trails proliferate as people take up the sport and "discover" different riding environs.
    Mtb'ng is far more accessable (and of interest) to people than horse ownership thus has the potential for rapid uncontrolled trail growth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    That's an apples to oranges comparision. Horse trails can remain static for centurys. Mtb trails proliferate as people take up the sport and "discover" different riding environs.
    Mtb'ng is far more accessable (and of interest) to people than horse ownership thus has the potential for rapid uncontrolled trail growth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    That's an apples to oranges comparision. Horse trails can remain static for centurys. Mtb trails proliferate as people take up the sport and "discover" different riding environs.
    Mtb'ng is far more accessable (and of interest) to people than horse ownership thus has the potential for rapid uncontrolled trail growth.
    Maybe in certain areas. In a large swath of the US a horse is much more accessible and makes much more financial sense than a bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    That's an apples to oranges comparision. Horse trails can remain static for centurys. Mtb trails proliferate as people take up the sport and "discover" different riding environs.
    Mtb'ng is far more accessable (and of interest) to people than horse ownership thus has the potential for rapid uncontrolled trail growth.
    Apples to oranges? Ha. You compare a statement about horses not changing trails to a statement about social trail proliferation. That’s apples to oranges.

    I know of trails formed by a single passage by a ridden horse. I know the horseman who admitted to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    That's an apples to oranges comparision. Horse trails can remain static for centurys. Mtb trails proliferate as people take up the sport and "discover" different riding environs.
    Mtb'ng is far more accessable (and of interest) to people than horse ownership thus has the potential for rapid uncontrolled trail growth.
    Have you done trail design? Trail management? Do you work with these user groups? If so, where? The reason I ask these questions is simple: if you do, you know that social trails happen with every group, including equestrians. Of the three groups, locally, hikers are the worst, followed by equestrians and then mountain bikers.

    It would seem weird anyone who cares about the environment of the Americas would defend horses as they are an invasive species. Get that: people who claim they love them some wilderness would defend an animal responsible for damaging hundreds of thousand acres of wilderness a year (both feral horses and those used by humans) and costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year. All those resources could go into purchasing and managing wilderness areas.

    Lets look at impacts fairly. If we do that, we can get somewhere.

    https://www.liveoutdoors.com/recreat...asive-species/

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    That's an apples to oranges comparision. Horse trails can remain static for centurys. Mtb trails proliferate as people take up the sport and "discover" different riding environs.
    Mtb'ng is far more accessable (and of interest) to people than horse ownership thus has the potential for rapid uncontrolled trail growth.
    Huh....I guess I just imagined all those unauthorized horse trails emanating from every horse-owner property adjacent to our local public forest. They must have just been there already for a hundred years, and the horse owners just happened to move in. What an amazing coincidence!
    No dig no whine

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    Where I live (Western Colorado) a lot of the most erosion prone trails began as either horse trails or motorcycle trails. Some eventually get appropriated by ATVs. Non human powered transportation lends itself to fall line trails. In our soils and climate, a fall line trail can become a big problem in just a few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    No, because then the game hunters would go extinct. Obviously.



    How is that obvious? Explain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    How is that obvious? Explain.
    Well if you hunting for the "thrill", you shoot anything. Just like "thrill" bikers ride anything.
    Doubt there are many "fall line" horse trails. Obviously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    Doubt there are many "fall line" horse trails. Obviously.
    Some areas of the John Muir Trail are very muddy and damaged by horses. They aren't called "2000-pound cookie cutters" for nothing! Big South Fork is a popular area for trail riders.

    This is what a large invasive species can do. And yes, that trail is fall line.

    Again, I ask these questions: Have you done trail design? Trail management? Do you work with these user groups? If so, where?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tungsten View Post
    Well if you hunting for the "thrill", you shoot anything.


    https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018FLNR0131-000996
    That is a non sequitur. "Thrill hunting" only claims one experiences a thrill out of killing an animal. It does not imply one is not following hunting regulations. "Just like "thrill" bikers ride anything." I can't comment. Since in my more than twenty five years of mountain biking I have never met anybody who called themselves a "Thrill Biker". So I imagine they are such a rare breed that it is difficult to say anything valid about their behaviors. Not enough data in the set.
    "Doubt there are many "fall line" horse trails. Obviously." I have never seen an (unimproved) horse trail that did not have fall line sections. Since the fall line is the shortest distance, and straightest easiest line to create. And since a beast f burden is doing all of the work, It makes sense for horsey people to follow the fall line whenever it is possible. Once again a non sequitur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    For those not familiar with George Wuerthner, years ago he actually had a pretty even keeled (if rather restrictive) view of mountain biking. Not sure what has made the change, but over the years, he has gotten angrier and weirder with his beliefs regarding mountain biking.

    Look, I want more wilderness too. Actually, I want more than George does. (Book recommendation - Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life by E.O. Wilson ) But let's be clear about this: There is the perfect and the achievable. George views wilderness in a religious sense. That is The Wilderness Act was written with the finger of God and Wilderness, as an object, is pure and perfect therefore must remain untainted. That is a fundamentalist point of view. Just as religious fundamentalist's believe their version of the sacred text is correct and are willing to kill to maintain it, increasingly it feels like the Wilderness fundamentalists are willing to do the same. Honestly, if I woke up tomorrow to see that George or his ilk suicide bombed STC's headquarters or something, I would not be shocked. It would be a logical progression of their beliefs quite frankly.

    The thing is, if these believers in the perfect would become believers in the achievable, we could get pretty close to 50% wilderness in the USA without breaking a sweat. But that would mean we look at impacts fairly. Horses (which have a huge impact) can't be OK and mountain bikes (which have a small impact) can not. It also means we have to be willing to bend a bit. I'm not a fan of ATVs and their impacts, but if allowing ATVs in this 2,000 acres of land lets me protect this other 5,000 acres of land, that is a win in my book.
    It's like the folks that hate hunters because they don't understand much of the land and animals exist because hunters pay for it. Especially the duck hunters that pay farmers to keep ponds for ducks.

    You have to give something to get something this notion you can lock out users or some users just causes fights that don't need to exist. But then purist do have extreme views.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenPsz View Post
    It's like the folks that hate hunters because they don't understand much of the land and animals exist because hunters pay for it. Especially the duck hunters that pay farmers to keep ponds for ducks.

    You have to give something to get something this notion you can lock out users or some users just causes fights that don't need to exist. But then purist do have extreme views.
    I'm all for outdoor enthusiasts of all flavors paying an annual fee to use public lands. From what I have seen the USFS (for example) work very hard at preserving the land on a very slim budget. If, for the same price as a new front tire, or for the price of an after ride dinner at the local brew pub, we could have well compensated land managers, well maintained trails, and new parcels of land purchased, it would be a bargain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    I'm all for outdoor enthusiasts of all flavors paying an annual fee to use public lands. From what I have seen the USFS (for example) work very hard at preserving the land on a very slim budget. If, for the same price as a new front tire, or for the price of an after ride dinner at the local brew pub, we could have well compensated land managers, well maintained trails, and new parcels of land purchased, it would be a bargain.
    I like that idea since then the "they don't belong here!" goes away since once everyone pays for access.

    People would still complain about their taxes already covering it though. But there is a model already for hunting and fishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KenPsz View Post
    I like that idea since then the "they don't belong here!" goes away since once everyone pays for access.

    People would still complain about their taxes already covering it though. But there is a model already for hunting and fishing.
    Doesn't need to be a tax. Just a license fee. It could even cover search and rescue, as do many hunting licenses. Pay to play. Where I live, the local mtb group supports the local branch of the USFS by covering the salaries of two forest rangers who specialize in trail management. All contributions are voluntary.

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    In MA we have to pay to park at many state parks, the $5-10 just goes into the general fund i'm sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    Doesn't need to be a tax. Just a license fee. It could even cover search and rescue, as do many hunting licenses. Pay to play. Where I live, the local mtb group supports the local branch of the USFS by covering the salaries of two forest rangers who specialize in trail management. All contributions are voluntary.
    The USFS charges a $30/year trail use fee here to support the recreation programs.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  53. #53
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    I have to ask, Tungsten, why aren't you fighting MTB access in your home country of Canada? What are you doing to save wilderness in your own country?
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    The USFS charges a $30/year trail use fee here to support the recreation programs.

    Cool. Where does the USFS do that? Great idea. Should do it nationwide. We ask a lot of the USFS for the paltry money we give them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    Cool. Where does the USFS do that? Great idea. Should do it nationwide. We ask a lot of the USFS for the paltry money we give them.
    It's the Northwest Forest Pass and is required at trailheads in Washington and Oregon.

    I think there's a similar program in Sedona, AZ.
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  56. #56
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    It's called an "Adventure Pass" down here in the Cleveland National Forest (SoCal). It's required at sites with amenities such as developed parking, picnic tables, toilet facilities, etc.
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  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by the one ring View Post
    It's called an "Adventure Pass" down here in the Cleveland National Forest (SoCal). It's required at sites with amenities such as developed parking, picnic tables, toilet facilities, etc.
    So, is it primarily a parking pass?


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    Quote Originally Posted by mbmb65 View Post
    So, is it primarily a parking pass?


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    Varies from place to place. Some places, the pass is more of a parking pass. Here in WNC, it is done that way, but the parking lots that require fees are somewhat limited. Tsali Rec Area. The lower paved lot at the bottom of Wash Crk Rd. Probably some more spots, but these are the ones I know.

    However the USFS in Indiana requires mtb riders to purchase a trails pass that you need to carry with you when you ride the trails. They don't care about whether you park in their trailhead lots or not.

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  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Varies from place to place. Some places, the pass is more of a parking pass. Here in WNC, it is done that way, but the parking lots that require fees are somewhat limited. Tsali Rec Area. The lower paved lot at the bottom of Wash Crk Rd. Probably some more spots, but these are the ones I know.

    However the USFS in Indiana requires mtb riders to purchase a trails pass that you need to carry with you when you ride the trails. They don't care about whether you park in their trailhead lots or not.

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    I’m familiar with those spots. What I’d like to see is something similar to what hunters and fisherman are required to purchase, a license to use the trails/forest. Everybody should be required to purchase the license, locals and tourists alike. One day, 3 day, week, year, lifetime. So, I think something more than a parking pass would be way more effective, especially around here, with so many FS roads and dispersed parking. I’ve never paid to park in that lot at NMR, and I ride out there a lot.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Varies from place to place. Some places, the pass is more of a parking pass. Here in WNC, it is done that way, but the parking lots that require fees are somewhat limited. Tsali Rec Area. The lower paved lot at the bottom of Wash Crk Rd. Probably some more spots, but these are the ones I know.

    However the USFS in Indiana requires mtb riders to purchase a trails pass that you need to carry with you when you ride the trails. They don't care about whether you park in their trailhead lots or not.

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    You guys are way out in front of us unsophisticates in Western Colorado on this issue. When I mention the idea of licensing for overland travel in the National forest to local Forest Rangers they say that any fee for overland travel must be passed through congress. And congress looks at it as a new tax. It will never happen. But apparently other national forests have found a way to work around this. The forest service also says that if they had the resources they could create and maintain more trails than what we now have. Which is what the MTB community wants, and seems quite willing to pay for. We have yet another case of "Government is not the solution. Government is the problem".

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbmb65 View Post
    I’m familiar with those spots. What I’d like to see is something similar to what hunters and fisherman are required to purchase, a license to use the trails/forest. Everybody should be required to purchase the license, locals and tourists alike. One day, 3 day, week, year, lifetime. So, I think something more than a parking pass would be way more effective, especially around here, with so many FS roads and dispersed parking. I’ve never paid to park in that lot at NMR, and I ride out there a lot.


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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    You guys are way out in front of us unsophisticates in Western Colorado on this issue. When I mention the idea of licensing for overland travel in the National forest to local Forest Rangers they say that any fee for overland travel must be passed through congress. And congress looks at it as a new tax. It will never happen. But apparently other national forests have found a way to work around this. The forest service also says that if they had the resources they could create and maintain more trails than what we now have. Which is what the MTB community wants, and seems quite willing to pay for. We have yet another case of "Government is not the solution. Government is the problem".
    I see some good sense in getting mtb riders to "put some skin into the game" so to speak with fees. But I also see some serious negatives. For example, Indiana skins you alive to ride on state land. Especially state parks. You have a gate fee you have to pay, which is per vehicle. But on top of that, you also must have a trails pass for each bicycle. The state requires the trails pass for EVERY RIDER, even kids. The local mtb riders lobbied like hell when this was proposed, and only managed to get an exemption for beginner trails. However, the "beginner" trails are REALLY beginner. Most trails are intermediate, and it's really not that hard for beginners to have fun on those, too. What it amounts to is that an annual entrance pass is $50, and each trails pass costs $20 per rider per yr (puts the fees in line with what horse riders pay, but mtb trails and mtb facilities see very little attention from state officials, since they're almost entirely volunteer-maintained, whereas the state puts quite a lot into horse trails). Park entrance fees are significantly more for out-of-state visitors ($70 annually, which really only applies to folks in border states, since most out-of-state visitors will pay for a day entrance, and if they're camping, their campground tag will get them entrance for the duration of their stay). That sort of thing really starts to price out people who simply can't afford it. Especially families who might all be on dept store bikes, or the least expensive bike shop bikes where just a couple years of riding in state parks/forests can exceed the purchase price of their bikes. I think Indiana is doing it wrong. Especially compared to other states that have more and better trails.

    IMO, the funding SHOULD come from taxes and much more modest use fees (which, like hunting and fishing licenses, apply to all public land, not just that managed by a single entity). A Pittman-Robertson-like tax on all outdoor gear to fund land acquisition, trails, and facilities like parking lots, restrooms, and such. Yes, it would have to be passed by the government since the administration of such a system would be more centralized. But the mechanisms to handle that sort of system already exist, so expanding such a system would cost less than implementing an entirely new one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    IMO, the funding SHOULD come from taxes and much more modest use fees (which, like hunting and fishing licenses, apply to all public land, not just that managed by a single entity). A Pittman-Robertson-like tax on all outdoor gear to fund land acquisition, trails, and facilities like parking lots, restrooms, and such. Yes, it would have to be passed by the government since the administration of such a system would be more centralized. But the mechanisms to handle that sort of system already exist, so expanding such a system would cost less than implementing an entirely new one.
    Unfortunately, our government operates at a (near )trillion dollar a year deficit. If they gained more revenue, it doesn't mean more money would go to the national forests or the BLM. And why should somebody in Florida or Delaware pay for the mtb / multi use trails that I enjoy in Colorado? If I wish to use a resource which requires maintenance of damages due to the use of the resource, I should be willing to pay for the maintenance fee. And that fee should go directly to the land manager, not the general fund. It sounds like you are trying to pass the cost of your benefits on to somebody else (moral hazard). They tried that with ACA healthcare. And it iis a disaster. (But I digress)

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    Unfortunately, our government operates at a (near )trillion dollar a year deficit. If they gained more revenue, it doesn't mean more money would go to the national forests or the BLM. And why should somebody in Florida or Delaware pay for the mtb / multi use trails that I enjoy in Colorado? If I wish to use a resource which requires maintenance of damages due to the use of the resource, I should be willing to pay for the maintenance fee. And that fee should go directly to the land manager, not the general fund. It sounds like you are trying to pass the cost of your benefits on to somebody else (moral hazard). They tried that with ACA healthcare. And it iis a disaster. (But I digress)
    You’re basically arguing against the social contract. And public lands in general.

    I mean, if you carry on down this line of reasoning, we should be questioning the redistribution of any money outside of our respective states, the existence of the federal government and the many services that poorer states get, albeit indirectly, from their richer neighbors.

    Federal land needs to be open to everyone. Not just those who would be able to pay for access.






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  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    Unfortunately, our government operates at a (near )trillion dollar a year deficit. If they gained more revenue, it doesn't mean more money would go to the national forests or the BLM. And why should somebody in Florida or Delaware pay for the mtb / multi use trails that I enjoy in Colorado? If I wish to use a resource which requires maintenance of damages due to the use of the resource, I should be willing to pay for the maintenance fee. And that fee should go directly to the land manager, not the general fund. It sounds like you are trying to pass the cost of your benefits on to somebody else (moral hazard). They tried that with ACA healthcare. And it iis a disaster. (But I digress)
    You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Pittman-Robertson Act is and does.

    https://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/fawild.html

    It's a use tax on hunters and fishermen that pays for land that hunters and fishermen use (and conservation work that ensures the continued existence of species that hunters and fisherman pursue). It's earmarked money that the government doesn't get to raid for other things. Hunting and fishing licenses collect money at the state level that are effectively for the same thing.

    A similar tax structure on outdoor recreation equipment to pay for outdoor recreation facility maintenance is not outside of what you ask for. It simply changes the point of collection from at the use site to the retailer where you purchased you equipment. Such a tax on wear items like chains and tires and whatnot would be a way to account for actual facility use. A single trail tag (for ALL trail use, not separate permits for separate uses depending on the land manager's whims) makes infinitely more sense than each land manager independently creating their own pass with its own administration and fee structure.

    Passing 100% of the costs of managing/upkeep of public lands and recreational facilities to the user at the point of use defeats the entire purpose of public lands. All the rest of your argument is complete BS because doing that effectively creates private parks that price out large portions of the low income public. Many of whom would otherwise not be exposed to nature. How many kids have you worked with who would never get exposed to nature without public land? I've worked with quite a few. Funding public spaces and their upkeep with taxes is entirely fitting with the whole "North American Model" of conservation that was pioneered in this very country. Such lands are supposed to be open to all, not just a select few who can afford it. The whole point of the North American Model is ensuring that all Americans can hunt on public land, and that people aren't blocked out because they can't afford to own their own hunting preserves or lease someone else's. Those are still options for you if you can afford them, but public land is PUBLIC. We all pay for it, whether we use it or not, through our taxes. Turning our public lands into de-facto private preserves through obscene point-of-access fee structures cuts people out and that is wrong. Any point of use fees, imo, should be kept modest, because primary funding should remain through taxes that we all pay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    And why should somebody in Florida or Delaware pay for the mtb / multi use trails that I enjoy in Colorado?
    Because you pay for the national beach nourishment program and for public lands in those states.

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    Since the USFS is a federal agency, I'd expect the trailhead access fee structure to be consistent across the country, but that clearly isn't the case.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Since the USFS is a federal agency, I'd expect the trailhead access fee structure to be consistent across the country, but that clearly isn't the case.
    Many of their policies are allowed to vary from forest region to forest region. It makes sense for stuff with ecological considerations, but I agree it doesn't make much sense for this one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Many of their policies are allowed to vary from forest region to forest region. It makes sense for stuff with ecological considerations, but I agree it doesn't make much sense for this one.

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    I think it does. If the local community is actively supporting and donating, time and money, to their local forest then the necessity of fees may not be the same across all of them. Other fees may also offset this cost.

    I'm not a fan of lumping them all together because all it takes to significantly reduce the experience for all is for two or three larger areas to be completely mismanaged.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    You’re basically arguing against the social contract. And public lands in general.

    I mean, if you carry on down this line of reasoning, we should be questioning the redistribution of any money outside of our respective states, the existence of the federal government and the many services that poorer states get, albeit indirectly, from their richer neighbors.

    Federal land needs to be open to everyone. Not just those who would be able to pay for access.

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    The Social Contract just means we are willing to give up some of our freedom and treasure to a government in return for some security (E.G. rule of law, secure borders, enforcement of contracts, etc. ) As a concept, It does not specify how much sacrifice of freedom or treasure the contract allows for. As long as Federal Law is meted out equally to all citizens, it may wind up that much of the Federal Lands are open to no one at all. Should the Federal Lands be open to all of us to graze cattle? Can we all equally remove minerals and timber? Does hunting and fishing privilege need to open to everyone? Not just those who would be able to pay for a license? If you read my comment clearly, I did not say the government can't redistribute income. (Although that is an interesting ethical argument for a different discussion) I am saying that it redistributes a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in. And if you hold your breathe waiting for more Federal tax money to get budgeted to local forests you will soon be blue in the face and quite disappointed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Pittman-Robertson Act is and does.
    No. In factI never mentioned it ... You are admitting that hunters and fisherman are paying a fee to pursue their sport which also may exclude anybody lacking the resources to pay. And you don't seem to against hunting and fishing licenses. Nor am I.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    ...because doing that effectively creates private parks that price out large portions of the low income public. Many of whom would otherwise not be exposed to nature. How many kids have you worked with who would never get exposed to nature without public land? ... Turning our public lands into de-facto private preserves through obscene point-of-access fee structures cuts people out and that is wrong. Any point of use fees, imo, should be kept modest, because primary funding should remain through taxes that we all
    You are the one mentioning high priced fees. Not me. If the fees are spread across the millions of users they needn't be xcessive, providing the funds are spent prudently. And as for kids who could never get exposed to nature.
    (since I guess we are now virtue signaling) I built four mountain bikes last year from parts and gave them away to (hispanic) non english speaking kids. And took them riding along with their non English speaking dads. They also helped do volunteer trail work. For what its worth, (more shameless virtue signaling) I have also bought, repaired, and given away quite a few old used musical instruments to kids at the local elementary school who (claim they) couldn't afford them. Mostly violins and a couple acoustic guitars.

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