This is our last chance to influence what parts of our region’s National Forests that bicyclists will be allowed to enter. YOUR VOICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Please comment today, it only takes a few minutes. The cut-off date is October 8th so please don’t wait. Link to comment page here.
Start with a short personal note like “I ride my bicycle in the HLCNF.” Then add any input you’d like the USFS to hear. MTB Advocates in our area suggest the following comments
John Juras’s (my) comments to the Plan follow. You are encouraged to use as much of this content as you might agree with.
Perhaps the greatest joy I’ve experienced in 30 years of living in Montana has been exploring the National Forests on my bicycle. The boundless National Forests in many parts of Montana have given me fantastic bicycling opportunities. Places to take my fitness, riding skill, and love for exploring the mountains to their limits. In the thousands of hours I’ve spent riding NF trails, I’ve never experienced a single user conflict. I cannot fathom a single logical reason to prohibit bicycling on any HLCNF trail except congressionally designated Wilderness areas. Sadly, Wilderness advocates have systematically kicked me off of many of my favorite trails in Montana’s National Forests over the last 12 years in the name of “preservation”.
The 2012 Planning Rule requires consideration of “social sustainability” of our National Forests. Encouraging varied uses of our national forests helps build a public consensus of support for continued USDA funding of USFS priorities. Fortunately, a growing group of young bicycling enthusiasts advocate strongly for varied uses of our forests and works HARD to support our forests. Sadly, past forest management efforts have treated bicyclists like noxious weeds. For example, “My decision prohibits bicycling …. I took this action because the area’s wilderness values would be best protected by not allowing incompatible uses to become established…”, Lesley (Spike) Thompson, page 26, ROD for Birch Creek South, Oct 2007. The Region 1 policy to kick bicycles out of RWA’s violates the Planning Rules’ social sustainability requirement. This policy also conflicts with other USFS Regions’ practices. Broad support is vital to sustain our National Forests. One or two groups who would keep wild areas as their own exclusive playground or preserve are creating socially UN-sustainable National Forests. Bicyclists are a vital social component of our wild lands. Please do not create more RWA’s.
If the USFS must create RWA’s in the HLCNF, P L E A S E I M P L E M E N T this provision. It recognizes that bicycle activity doesn’t reduce wilderness character. Allowing continued bicycling and motorized activity also doesn’t reduce the potential for an area to someday become designated Wilderness. In fact two recent bills in Idaho and Montana were passed while bicyclists were actively using the areas. The record shows that Congress, when ready to pass a Wilderness bill, does not show hesitation to designate Wilderness even if bicycle use is present.
This provision allows the USFS to identify appropriate places for future inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System without requiring alienation of existing uses and is consistent with other Regions’ practices. For example, Forest Service Region Four in Idaho and Utah allows existing uses to continue within RWA’s. Montana’s Region One takes a step into politics by removing uses to create defacto Wilderness and at the same time removing access for local advocates, who are deeply invested in their favorite wild areas. This difference in regional philosophies causes a lot of confusion and consternation – highlighting the need for a consistent management policy nationwide. The Region One RWA management philosophy is out of touch with most constituents. Thank you HLCNF for offering this possible provision. Bicyclists are taxpayers who boost local economies. We love our wild places and we take pride in helping the USFS keep the trails open.