USFS becoming more MTB friendly-
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  1. #1
    Reputation: Empty_Beer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    USFS becoming more MTB friendly

    The FS apparently agrees that we should not be classified with OHV's and that we should be treated no different than hikers and equestrians Hopefully, this opens trails in National Forests to us, as well in Wilderness Areas (although that probably won't happen soon since we are still considered "mechanized" vs. "motorized). Anyway, it's a start!

    Forest Service Issues Important Guidance on Mountain Bike Management
    For Immediate Release
    Contact: Drew Vankat, Policy Analyst
    [email protected]

    Addressing hundreds at the IMBA World Summit, Jim Bedwell, Forest Service director for recreation, heritage and volunteers, made a major announcement that will benefit mountain bikers nationwide. Bedwell presented a new agency memo clearly defining mountain biking as similar to hiking and equestrian use, and an activity to be managed separately from motorized travel.

    The document, written by Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop, is a significant step in the evolution of mountain bike management on Forest Service lands, and has been distributed to agency staff at the regional and local levels.

    At the core of the letter are important clarifications on the nature of mountain biking and how this activity is addressed in management plans. Holtrop writes, "I want to emphasize that mountain biking is a non-motorized use of National Forest System trails, along with hiking and horseback riding. In our planning and policy documents, a distinction between mountain biking and motorized uses...should be made."

    As Bedwell explained, "The Forest Service uses letters to communicate quickly to field units about important issues they may face, and to promote consistent understanding about how to approach them. In some cases, such as this one, the letter precedes desired policy revision, which requires a longer and more involved process to complete."

    Bedwell's announcement comes at a time when some national forests have applied similar restrictions to bicycles and motor vehicles. IMBA believes most Forest Service staff understand bicycling is a quiet, non-motorized, low-impact activity, and hopes the letter provides the guidance necessary for consistent treatment of mountain biking on every national forest.

    "Deputy Chief Holtrop's letter also acknowledges the important and productive partnership between IMBA and the U.S. Forest Service," says Bedwell. In 2006, the two entities renewed their Memorandum of Understanding for the third consecutive time and mountain bikers are prolific stewards in many national forests. The volunteer National Mountain Bike Patrol works to inform, assist, and educate mountain bikers and other trail users on Forest Service lands across the country.

  2. #2
    Don't worry, be happy!
    Reputation: formica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    WOW, this will be some good information to have on hand when I go to the kettle crest forest meeting this friday night.

  3. #3
    I should be out riding
    Reputation: ACree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    But any word how this will impact areas such as a few in MT, where the local USFS wants to manage areas that are not Wilderness as 'recommended Wilderness' and use that to ban bikes?

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    recognition by the USFS, very cool.

    Thanks for the good news post Empty_Beer. you old sea-dog
    Very good news for all of our access issues. It's just a foot in the door, but we've never had our foot in the door as an accepted, individual user group.
    My sincere thanks to the USFS, IMBA and all others involved in making this happen.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Thats good, with the 2001 road less rule being upheld we could have been excluded by it, but that makes it clear that wont likely happen. I for one was worried about being excluded under the road less rule, if mtb's were still considered OHV's would be hard not to get excluded. With that out of the way can fully support the road less rule, as an alternative to Wilderness designation.


    Wow maybe the Forest Service treats recommended for wilderness differently than the Park Service. Most of the Colorado river corridor thru Grand Canyon national park is recommended for Wilderness designation, has been for years but will probably never go any further. The rafting industry is still allowed to run larger than allowed in Wilderness group sizes and rafts with gas engines for most of the year. I believe there are other areas that are recommended that still have active roads even, as well as fire look out towers and other things very much not in the spirit of the wilderness act. I thought recommendation usually means business as usual. I have heard people hypothesize that the road less rule may be a covert way of fighting wilderness designation.I.E. get it designated a road less area and then it cant be wilderness until the designation is removed, but doubt its true.

  6. #6
    I should be out riding
    Reputation: ACree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    The MT board has the experts, but my understanding is that it has been a regional interpretation, not a universal USFS issue. But, the ranger who implemented that, Gail Kimball, is now head of the USFS, so doesn't bode well for bikes in some of these places.

    After seeing pics of the areas in question, I just want to get over to MT and ride them while we still can.

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