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.