Congress and Mountain Biking

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For a millennia within the United States, mountain biking has been disbanded in designated wilderness areas. Previously people who did not follow federal protocol had been fined up to thousands and thousands of dollars as well as banned from the land indefinitely forest service retaliation against mountain bike riders. In some cases, bikes have been confiscated. The problem continues to expand as every time a newly acquired wilderness area becomes approved, it makes riding on any of the countless trails that have been ridable before to become illegal.

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There is an opportunity for change when July 13 when Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced legislation to Congress that would allow for local municipalities to decide whether or not riding would be legalized within the the wilderness parks. Despite wanting to allow for exemptions,various groups such as U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Fish and Wildlife Service cannot create exemptions. They cannot even create exceptions for trails that had previously been groomed and perfected specifically for mountain biking.

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Why it May Not Pass

There are worries that it will cause a rift between environmental advocacy fracturing the movement and momentum for environmental causes. Hikers and bikers will be trying to further their own specific cause at the sake of the environment. With the bill sponsors ranking among the lowest in terms of pro-environment support of legislation, it has caused the creation of headlines such as “GOP Platform Proposes to Get Rid of National Parks and National Forests.” Fear also strikes from the notion that by allowing mountain bikers, it will destroy the sanctity of nature. In February alone, over 115 different groups reached out to Congress to take a stand against allowing mountain biking in wilderness parks.

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How to Make it Pass

If you think you are safe because your favorite trail is not on wilderness designated land, think again because that area could be the next to become a wilderness area meaning you lose all access to your trails. If you like to ride or if you have a conscience, write to your local Congressman in support of allowing the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act




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