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July 5, 2007

Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

RE: California Wild Heritage Act of 2007

Dear Mrs. Boxer,

I am writing to express my concern that the Wilderness designation you propose for the vast tracts of land specified in the Wild Heritage Act will render them recreationally useless to me. You see, I ride a mountain bike, and if these areas are designated as wilderness I will no longer be allowed to enjoy them after my own fashion.

I live in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles County. Regularly, I ride trails in the Angeles, Sequoia, Los Padres, Cleveland, and San Bernardino National Forests. Some of my favorite trails would become off-limits to bicycles. Less often but with every bit as much enjoyment I ride in the Tahoe, Humbolt-Toyaibe, Shasta-Trinity, Eldorado, Inyo, and Stanislaus National Forests. And I'll be riding in more as my life permits.

Mountain biking is a peaceful, environmentally sane activity, and I do not think it fair or right to outlaw it from our public lands.

A mountain bike is not the same thing, and does not belong in the same classification, as an Off-Highway Vehicle, a 4x4, a motorcycle, or an ATV. A mountain bike is not powered by gasoline, and it weighs a fraction of the weight of the human controlling it. The bike and rider do not disturb others who are miles away.

The types of trails that would be closed by these new Wilderness designations are the kind of trails used by the most responsible of mountain bikers. For example, take the proposed Condor Peak Wilderness. I myself have ridden Condor Peak Trail numerous times. It is very narrow, with several sections that feature steep drop-offs, even cliffs. To get to the top of the mountain, one must climb either Condor Peak Trail, Trail Canyon Trail, or Mendenhall Ridge Fireroad. In no case will the rider ride less than 16 miles, and climb less than 3000 feet, give or take.

Years of effort are required to acquire the skill, endurance, and strength necessary to pedal a bicycle over such a trail. The person who has put in this effort has no less respect for the trail and its surroundings than the hiker, climber, equestrian, or fisherman who enjoys his or her day in the woods, and probably has more.

To take that experience away from me and my fellow bicyclists is simply not right. I'm sure you will want to tell me that many miles of roads and trails will remain open to bicyclists should this bill become law. Well, I and my fellow cyclists want the backwoods experiences we ALREADY HAVE AVAILABLE to REMAIN available to us and to future generations of bicyclists. Riding a dirt road at the edge of town is just not the same thing as riding a trail deep in the back of beyond.

I have voted for you in each election since you first ran for the Senate. However, if you continue to support designating these lands in a manner that will outlaw bicycles, I will not continue to vote for you. I'll vote for a candidate who will support my quiet enjoyment of the outdoors.

I say this knowing that one vote in 15 million isn't worth much. But it's the principal of the thing - I cannot support you if you don't support me.

Sincerely,

William O'Neil

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-493

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-493

Scroll to section 101, Designation of Wilderness. How many of your favorite trails would be rendered illegal?
 

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MrMountainHop said:
Dear Mrs. Boxer,

I am writing to express my concern that the Wilderness designation you propose for the vast tracts of land specified in the Wild Heritage Act will render them recreationally useless to me.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-493

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-493

Scroll to section 101, Designation of Wilderness. How many of your favorite trails would be rendered illegal?
Good luck.

It appears the areas will still be open to hikers and equestrians, which isn't surprising. Both have powerful lobby groups, cyclists do not. The eggheads in Washington will never understand that equestrians do far more damage to the trails than any mountain biker.

Craig
 

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That is a really great letter! It is respectful, factual, and covers a lot of points on the subject.

I particularly liked this section:

... I'm sure you will want to tell me that many miles of roads and trails will remain open to bicyclists should this bill become law. Well, I and my fellow cyclists want the backwoods experiences we ALREADY HAVE AVAILABLE to REMAIN available to us and to future generations of bicyclists. Riding a dirt road at the edge of town is just not the same thing as riding a trail deep in the back of beyond.

I have voted for you in each election since you first ran for the Senate. However, if you continue to support designating these lands in a manner that will outlaw bicycles, I will not continue to vote for you. I'll vote for a candidate who will support my quiet enjoyment of the outdoors.
 

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I hope not to start an argument, but I have searched the Senate bill and it's House version and the words bicycle, cycle, cycling, bike, pedal and mountain bike are not in them. My bike does not have a motor, so I do not think that it can be rightly called a motor-vehicle, which seems the closest thing referenced in these proposed legislations.
 

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"mechanisation"

I still dont get how they can equate the mechanization of a bicycle with that of a motorcycle when the variables distingishing the two apart are so obvious..
 

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Unless it's been changed, I was under the impression that they considered the bike a mechanical device, and therefore exclude bicycles from many areas that way.

Regarding the bill, is there any area her bill *doesn't* include?! That was a hefty lot of land it seems like. I'm not familar with the exact areas, but if my assumptions are correct, that'd close down a ton of trails to mountain bikes.
 

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I also searched the bill for the words mechanical, mechanic and mechanized: Not There. I agree that a bike is a mechanical device, but the bill only references motor-vehicles, not mechanical devices.
 

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motor vehicle
n.
A self-propelled wheeled conveyance, such as a car or truck, that does not run on rails.

While sometimes I would like my bike to propel itself (Main Divide) it does not, I must propel it.
 

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You didn't see those words in the bill because the writers are assuming you know the definition of a Wilderness Area and all that is entailed in such a designation.

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/anps/anps_6b.htm

Def: Sec. 2 (c)
Prohibitions: Sec 4 (c)

The inclusion of bikes kind of makes sense after reading the definition - I have never understood it, though. Especially since many mtbrs are involved in trail building/maintenance for their local area.
 

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Excellent letter and I totally agree with the sentiment, but I honestly think it's the wrong approach. IMO, a better strategy would be to focus on having the definition of "mechanized" (a definition made in an early-80s finding, not/not the original Wilderness Act, BTW) altered to reflect basic common sense.

Frankly, I'd rather be barred from a new wilderness than have the space left open to be raped by extractive industries and housing developers. Opposing Wilderness designation to preserve our own narrow, parochial interests is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
 

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82Sidewinder said:
Obvious to us, but not to politicians and lawyers. :D
What needs to happen is the Amendment of the Wilderness Act to allow bicycles. It would be a hard row to hoe to get that done, because inevitably any bill to amend the Wilderness Act will attract amendments of its own from natural resource extraction interests which the environmental agencies which will attack the bill, not just the hostile amendments.
 

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5 x 5
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Drewdane said:
Excellent letter and I totally agree with the sentiment, but I honestly think it's the wrong approach. IMO, a better strategy would be to focus on having the definition of "mechanized" (a definition made in an early-80s finding, not/not the original Wilderness Act, BTW) altered to reflect basic common sense.
Brilliant. I totally agree. Let's find someone in Congress and or the Senate who is sympathetic. Boxer won't be; this is her bill.

Drewdane said:
Frankly, I'd rather be barred from a new wilderness than have the space left open to be raped by extractive industries and housing developers. Opposing Wilderness designation to preserve our own narrow, parochial interests is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Here I have to disagree, not in principal, but in practice. California has a boatload of wilderness. Any hiker/equestrian/fisherman/etc who wants to can get way out there without fear of disturbance. This is not a bad thing; we SHOULD have wilderness, and I'm even okay with bikes being barred from it.

My problem: This bill proposes to expand Wilderness areas not to prevent development or extraction, but to close the areas to motorized use and to bicycle use. And some of these areas, like the Condor Peak area I referred to in the letter, have nothing to extract or develop. It's not even open to motos. It's sandwiched between a fire road and a paved main highway that are, as the crow flies, about five miles apart. A massive dam lies right at its edge. I conclude that the sole purpose in designating the Condor Peak Wilderness must be to close Condor Peak Trail and Trail Canyon Trail to bicycles. And why? In the five times I've ridden the two, I've seen a total of five hikers - all on the same day. And we're talking about a trail that's 20 minutes north of downtown LA.

Damn, this makes me angry!

jfkbike2 said:
Nice letter and I agree 100% but did you really vote for this person? I cannot fathom ever doing that.
When she first ran for the Senate I was still a smoker who loved the outdoors. Wilderness was a purely good idea to me at the time. Boxer is great about "the environment" in general. I'm just tired of hikers getting away with outlawing bicycles because "wilderness" sounds like a good idea to most non-outdoors users.
 

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Dear Barbara,

How about a nice dirty teabag after I take one last ride in the area you propose to ban me from forever.

Thanks,
Concerned Mt Biker

P.S. Are you a goddamn Nazi? You sure do propose to ban anything that seems fun or American?
 
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