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700 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Back to a topic I have really mixed emotions about “Wilderness. Over on the trail building page, Greg406 posted a link to a great article on “Wilderness Lite.” The article presents some interesting points and thought it might spark some interesting conversation on the I103 page. The comments to the article were almost as entertaining as the article so read on if you have time.

There were several other articles associated with the link on Wilderness and whether bikes were intended to be excluded in Wilderness.

More articles

Let the food fight begin!

Oh, and Twisted if we could have some more visual entertainment please.

2,084 Posts
I guess I will start...

First off I am a preservationist and have no desire to see vast new networks of roads created and paid for by the forest service, I hate paying taxes too... Additionally I have no desire at all to ride in existing wilderness areas. I can even support wilderness in the right areas, but do not veiw it as a good tool in areas which already have existing mountain bike usage.

Enviromentalist are stuck on wilderness as the only tool, even thought you could protect the land equally well without banning mountain bikes. Sure mountain bikes don't need to be allowed on every trail, but we do deserve to ride in equally scenic areas. We need to look at real impacts on the land. How much more sediment does one use release into the enviroment as compared to another, no one is perfect. Go for a walk on the trails that are ripped apart in the sawtooth wilderness by horse usage. How many bikes would it take to equal the damage done by one horse train?

Based on previous horse train encounters (roughtly 10 horses/mules for three people)
Est Weight: 10000lbs
Avg mountain biker weight: 220lbs
Roughtly 45 mountain bikers would apply the same amount of force for one pack train.

Frankly right now the biggest issue in the west is the ranchetting of millions of acres of old ranch land.


1,043 Posts
You've raised a cocktail topic

Whilst muching weinies and sipping martinis, one could ponder their ratio of impact per average pack train. It would make an interesting environmental impact study for some grad student. I'm sure that my own impact ratio on a trail is more than 45 bike trips per pack string. mmmmmmm big deal.

The big W needs some company for sure. The time was correct for it many years ago. If there was more realization of this from wilderness people, we would have more protected lands by now, instead of fights.

And I think equally we need to cultivate a friendlier way to ride motorcycles than what exists now, which is mostly mx track brought to the mountains. No wonder they get a bad rap. How about trials tires, a 200 lb. weight limit, and 93 db. exhaust?

Ranchettes are tragic.

69 Posts
not a zero sum game

I think there are enough land management options available that if mtn bikers and wilderness advocates could agree to talk, it certainly appears to me that the conflict areas are such that mitigation can be achieved as part of the discussion without having to resort to wilderness lite at the expense of no Wilderness at all. Doesn't have to be a zero sum game, as the point of a couple of those previous articles points out.

Sheepherder/Cat Herder
2,715 Posts
The Canadians had some good ideas with the corridors through the Chilcotins. I just wish everyone (i.e. mtbrs, horse people, backpackers, etc.) would work TOGETHER towards a mutually agreeable solution. It would take compromise...and dare I mention it...involvement in the maintainence and stewardship of the land...but I think we would all be better for it.

From the responses on this thread, it seems like people would be willing to work towards this.

And yes, ranchettes...and urban sprawl...are bad.

1,043 Posts
Corridors are the answer to some of Montana's problems. We have proposed several. Many of the managers at the forest and district level are enthusiastic about corridors, but the northern region headquarters people are against corridors. Wilderness groups are against corridors because they percieve them as a weakening of the Wilderness act.

I call it responsible, sensitive, land planning.

jalepenio jimenez
735 Posts
Wilderrness: land of no use?

WILDERNESS. What a satisfying concept.

It sounds so politically correct to have lots of WILDERNESS. Kind of like chicken soup for the soul.

But, as much as the concept of wilderness is appealing to the very roots of my soul, I have to say that I very seldom venture into any of the many wilderness areas here in the great state of Idahoe.

But I would. Rest assured I would, if I could only ride my bike on some of the incredible trail networks that exist in places like, for instance, the Frank Church WA.

First place I'd hit is Sulphur creek. I've often thought about poaching that trail, but alas, my inner soul just hasn't been able to work itself up to going to that extreme, yet.

For myself, the wilderness areas hold, as an over abundant resource, incredible trail networks that are just screaming for a little attention by the adventurous mountain biker. Sure they contain many other attributes, all of which I no doubt appreciate, but those trails becken to me much more than the unlogged forests or the untramelled meadows.

It's the trails that exist in these locked up playgrounds that so spur me. In all honesty, I must admit that it's not the exclusive "wilderness" label that I am drawn to.

I really couldn't give a hoot about the lands locked-up protection or it's pristine beauty: beauty that's not exclusive to wilderness areas, but rather the same beauty that exists all around me anytime I am out in Idahoes great outback. It doesn't necessarily have to be "wilderness" to have that special something.

As it is now, alot of us ride trails adjacent to wilderness areas quite frequently.

We honor the taboo that is placed on these incredible lands with their incredible trail networks and stay the hell out for everyones good.

We're all good little citizens and wouldn't think of tresspassing on to these sacred grounds with our mechanical monsters and a pack full of jelly doughnuts and warm budweisers. Why, heaven forbid, we'd ruin it for everyone if we were to be allowed into these locked up, gated non-communities that we are to appreciate from afar, but not to tresspass within.

The trail continues, but we don't. We look in awe across that invisible line that denotes a wilderness boundry, and ponder the nature of existence on the other side.

But only briefly. We know better than to be held spellbound by it's exclusive designation. It's no different than where we ride now. It's just off limits. To me, that is it's only difference.

BMX:Our Shining Future
875 Posts
I've Probably Shot Off About This Once Already

It amazes me that the Federal government EVER bans bicycle use on federal lands Bicycle use solves so many social problems simultaneously such as obesity carbon dioxide production depression overcrowding of streets noise stench etc etc etc Any responsible government would do whatever it could to encourage bicycle use to the greatest extent possible But we don't have a responsible government We have an irresponsible government So our government bans bicycle use on federal lands such as wilderness areas national parks national monuments proposed wilderness study areas federal Interstate highways sidewalks etc etc etc Of course it's not an ELECTED governent anymore so we can't really expect it to be responsible It's a BOUGHT government so we can expect it to provide tax breaks for Hummers and Exxon/Mobile which it in fact does

While I am ranting here any responsible government would be pouring as much money as possible into electric passenger rail lines as fast as possible before gas hit seven bucks a gallon and left the United States Of America incapable of functioning But no we can't even get the stupid corrupt bastards to fund Amtrack and so when the oil runs out Europe and Asia will be able to move and we won't Thus we will be screwed

3,224 Posts
Some Commentary and Action that I agree with

Irishbuddha said:
Back to a topic I have really mixed emotions about “Wilderness. Over on the trail building page, Greg406 posted a link to a great article on “Wilderness Lite.” The article presents some interesting points and thought it might spark some interesting conversation on the I103 page. The comments to the article were almost as entertaining as the article so read on if you have time.

There were several other articles associated with the link on Wilderness and whether bikes were intended to be excluded in Wilderness.

More articles

Let the food fight begin!

Oh, and Twisted if we could have some more visual entertainment please.
Note: although this is regarding W designation in SoCal forest, it applies in concept and practice to W designation in Idaho, and the rest of the United States in terms consistent with MY beliefs on the matter... both as a mountain biker and with respect to ALL users and into the very far future (when we are gone)


Editor's note: Candace Oathout is an equestrian concerned about policy
and legislative actions that would affect our ability to manage (and
recreate in) our public lands. While equestrians are allowed in
wilderness areas, the wilderness designation bans "motorized use" including
mountain biking. Currently California Senator Barbara Boxer is pushing two
wilderness bills in California that would detrimentally affect mountain
bike access. The Sierra Club had attempted to declare most of the
forests in Southern California as wilderness areas, including here in the
Santa Ana Mountains, but they were defeated by the Warrior's Society and
other organizations opposed to losing recreational access.

By Candace D. Oathout
Warrior's Society National Legislative Representative

I was recently asked to lend support to efforts to stop legislation
designating more Wilderness; something I am happy to do.

Legislation has been introduced to add additional Designated Wilderness
in five western states. It would designate approximately 8 million
acres in Montana, over 9 million acres in Idaho, over 3 million acres in
Wyoming, over a million acres in Oregon and about ¾ of a million acres
in Washington. It will also establish the Flathead National Preserve
Study Area which covers 285,000 acres adjacent to Glacier National Park.
This amounts to more than 21 million more acres of Designated
Wilderness and is in addition to the 107,436,608 acres that have already been
designated, which exceeds the state of California in size. It is three
times larger than the state of Arizona and Virginia. In fact we have more
Designated Wilderness than the combined areas of the states of
California, Maryland, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

Surely it is time to place a moratorium on all Wilderness Designations.
Many of the acres proposed have been reviewed for suitability as
Designated Wilderness and have failed to meet the criteria outlined in the
Wilderness Act of 1964 which states; “A wilderness, in contrast with
those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is
hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are
untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.
An area of wilderness is further defined to mean, in this Act, an area
of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and
influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is
protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1)
generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of
nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has
outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined
type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is
of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an
unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological,
or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical
value. (emphasis added) so determined wilderness activists are changing
the rules.

The U.S. Forest Service in January of 2007 issued FSH 1901.12 which
overrides the definition of Wilderness as an area of undeveloped Federal
land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent
improvements or human habitation, and expand the definition to include
areas that have heliports, airstrips, cell towers, television/radio
towers, radio repeaters, associated access roads, power lines, phone lines,
structures, fence lines, areas with less than 70% federal ownership,
developed campgrounds and tree plantations all of which do not qualify
under the definition contained in the Wilderness Act of 1964. All of
the above conditions will no longer stop efforts to change their status
to Designated Wilderness.

The designation of Wilderness is the most restrictive form of land use
management. The 1964 Act states; “Except as specifically provided for
in this Act, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no
commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area
designated by this Act and, except as necessary to meet minimum
requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act
(including measures required in emergencies involving the health and
safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no
use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of
aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or
installation within any such area.�

There is are very serious consequences that inevitably stem from using
the Forest Service’s new rule to designate Wilderness and then
changing current land uses to comply with the criteria of Designated
Wilderness. The de-construction of rural resource dependent industries is or
should be of utmost concern. Not only does Designated Wilderness preclude
active forest management, such as, logging to maintain forest health,
it seriously impacts the ability to protect our watersheds from
catastrophic wildland fires by active fire fighting. Lack of active forest
management prevents land managers from treating invasive species and, pest
and disease infestations or the stress of overcrowded growth that
contributes to these problems. Removal of existing roads also places limits
on land managers abilities to preserve wildlife habitat or even to
survey or study endangered species. Imagine that the only way to stop the
advance of the vigorous annual grass know as Cheat Grass which is
extremely flammable is to hike or ride horseback to it’s location and use
hand tools to remove it before it goes to seed. Keep in mind that this
grass covers millions of acres and continues to spread each year. It is
already necessary for land managers in National Forests to require
field maintenance crews to hike in and have their equipment and supplies
delivered, by pack mule, by volunteers, such as, the Backcountry
Horseman of America. Many protests have been logged against even these limited
efforts as they are considered by wilderness purists to have too much
impact on Wilderness areas.

Two thirds of forest land in the western United States is public land
compared to one sixth of forest land in the eastern U.S. The data show
that logging in the Rocky Mountain region is one quarter of what it was
twenty years ago. It is even less in the Pacific Northwest at less than
one tenth the volume it was twenty years ago. This has led directly to
increased housing costs here in this country due to the need to import
wood and increased deforestation in countries that export wood and
wood products to the U.S. The cessation of logging combined with managing
forest for “old growth� has led to overcrowded tree stands that are
stressed by competition and much more susceptible to pest and disease
infestation. This, in turn, makes them much more susceptible to
catastrophic wildland fires that cost the agencies more than a billion of
dollars in fire fighting costs in fiscal year 2006. 9.5 million acres of
forest have burned last year alone. This amounts to almost 5% of forests
burned in just one year.

It is a fact that anyone can propose that an area be considered for
wilderness designation. It is apparent that extreme wilderness advocates
are driven by the belief that “untouched wilderness� is some how
superior to the “works of man�. This belief is so strong that it is
now being used to designated areas that do not fit the criteria for
Designated Wilderness. Areas that are clearly inappropriate for this
Studies have shown that “wilderness designations lead rapidly to
excessive biomass accumulation that will enhance the likelihood of
catastrophic wildfires. Surely it is time to look at the results of 43 years of
designating wilderness and stop the insanity of repeating a failed
policy hoping for a different outcome.

Candace D. Oathout

[email protected]

Manitou and Shimano are the Major Component Sponsors of the Warrior's

Cytomax is the Official Fluid Replacement Drink of the Warrior's

Clif Bar is the Official Energy Bar and Gel of the Warrior's Society

The Warrior's Society is a Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) affiliated

The Warrior's Society is a Tax Exempt Organization under 501 (c) 4 of
the IRS Code

1,043 Posts
good thoughts, guys

This is a thought circulating in the Bozone lately. "Whenever there is a question, bicycles should be part of the answer". Makes sense to me.

1,043 Posts
something else is festering in my head

So many cynical people have told me that they will just poach these new wilderness areas, it has triggered some fresh thoughts. What will happen to the social landscape here if there is too much wilderness? With over 50 new areas (in MT) and closure of over 1,000 miles of trail, it will indeed be too much.

Will wilderness be cheapened? Will it be poached? Will the outcome be a new subclass of camo-wearing poachers, maybe packing pistols? How will the wilderness act survive the groundswell of wilderness haters created by too much wilderness? Will wilderness organization offices be bombed?

I'm not advocating any of this, but somewhere along the way to wilderness domination, some invisible boundary may be crossed and p_ss off the wrong crowd. The religeous bent of wilderness lovers could also have it's flip side among others. Both camps have extremes.
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