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Oregon MTB Groups Release Mt. Hood Proposal

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 22nd, 2005 at 2:02 pm

In an effort to retain access for mountain bikes in the backcountry, the Oregon Mountain Bike Alliance (ORMBA) and the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) have teamed up on an innovative plan that suggests new ways to look at "wilderness" designations in Mt. Hood National Forest.

At issue here is how the Feds define "wilderness". The fear for mountain bikers is that the current definition excludes mountain bikes completely from all "wilderness" areas. If the Feds expand the wilderness boundaries, it means less places to ride. Therefore, this new plan is a huge development because it is an effort to revise how the Feds define wilderness areas. If successful, this plan might influence other decisions happening all over the country.

At stake is the sport of mountain biking itself. If they're completely excluded from large backcountry areas where they're currently allowed, it would have a severe effect on the health of the sport, tourism, and the cycling economy in the region.

But it's not a matter of saving the economy. I think preserving wild areas are much more important that the health of the economy(!). However, I do think that there is a misperception of the effects responsible mountain bikers have on the trails. When ridden properly, bikes can co-exist peacefully with other trail users.

...but it all starts with a plan and I'm excited by the great work ORMBA and IMBA have put into this. Stay tuned for more developments.

Here's a summary of the proposal.

A map detailing how the proposed designations for Mount Hood might be administered can be downloaded from IMBA's web site.

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  • ron February 14, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    I love riding my bike out in the forest. I love the fact that wilderness areas exist without entry by bikes too. I am not saying that I think wilderness areas should keep expanding at the expense of users other than foot. The entry of horses into the wilderness areas probably do more damage than bicycles if said bicycles actually stayed on the existing trails. When one is in a wilderness area it is easy to see the damage done by current (non cyclist) users when they leave litter, go into areas (meadows for example) when still wet, make short-cut trails and just do general damage to the fragile areas. I want to be able to ride my bike out in the more remote areas in the forests and not have them all locked up in wilderness, but I have seen the damage done by gonzo mountain bike riders, more concerned with the "thrill" of a steep descent or taking trail sections FAST than really being concerned with the care of the environment they are passing through. I like going fast too. I am a mountain bike XC racer. A designated course where you can go as fast and hard as possible is located in an area that is not set aside to receive "extra care". If we mountain bikers get special areas set aside for our use, I hope we can be good guardians of these places of beauty. I hope we can mentor newcomers in a way that instills the desire to keep our biking areas from decline. If we (as a group) do this we will be showing the public and government agencies that we are good custodians of our earth. This I hope for us riders so we can keep riding out in the woods and show our use can even expand without a negative impact. We can organize and dream as a group, but how we act out there as individuals will be how we are judged... is how we are judged daily. Lets do all we can to add to our areas to ride.

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