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When the President


When the President of the United States signed the Wilderness Act of 1964 he wasn't banning bicycles, wheelbarrows, and strollers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When the President


When the President of the United States signed the Wilderness Act of 1964 he wasn't banning bicycles, wheelbarrows, and strollers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wilderness Act of 1964 was a beautiful thing. It protected our most precious lands and celebrated the recreational opportunities they would provide for generations to come. The Act made it clear that things with engines were bad, and living power sources like humans and horses were good. The Act didn’t ban bikes; that happened twenty years later.

The Sustainable Trails Coalition is a nonprofit working to reverse the ban on bicycles in Wilderness areas. However, just as we’re opposed to the blanket ban, we’re also opposed to a blanket permit. We ultimately believe the trails in our Wilderness areas need a big dose of cooperation, common sense, and repair; living power sources like hikers, cyclists, equestrians, cross country skiers, snowshoers, etc., need to get along, work together, and partner with land managers to decide what is in the best interest of each trail.

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The Maintenance Deficit


How many more miles of trail must become unsustainable before Wilderness areas become practically inaccessible to everyone? 

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The Maintenance Deficit


How many more miles of trail must become unsustainable before Wilderness areas become practically inaccessible to everyone? 

The Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and similarly majestic trails in our nation's Wilderness areas are our country's pride and joy, but they are in serious disrepair.  According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Forest Service can maintain only about 25 percent of its trail mileage!  According to that same GAO study, they recommend improving the sustainability of our trails as well as improving the collaboration with volunteers to maintain our trails.

Under current rules, federal land managers cannot use tools as basic as a wheelbarrow or a chainsaw to maintain Wilderness trails.  As a result, it's too costly to maintain them and they have deteriorated like our national highway system.   Compound these facts with the heavy use certain areas receive, the legislation that was intended to protect our lands is preventing them from being repaired and as a result is becoming an environmental problem and safety issue for all visitors.

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The Bill


Human-Powered Travel in
Wilderness Areas Act S.3205

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The Bill


Human-Powered Travel in
Wilderness Areas Act S.3205

We are delighted to report that Senator Mike Lee of Utah introduced the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act, S.3205, on July 13, 2016.

This modest reform will effectively revert the rules regarding bikes and Wilderness back to what they were from 1981 to 1984, when access was conditionally allowed.  This bill will reaffirm the original goal of Congress with the Wilderness Act which intended that non-motorized, unconfined recreation be allowed.

The Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act also includes a section on maintenance that will allow the use of wheelbarrows and small scale motorized equipment (chainsaw), to insure that the trails in our Wilderness Areas are traversable.

We believe, and hope you concur, that this very reasonable and moderate change in the law represents the original intent of Congress, will improve recreational opportunities in our public lands, improve maintenance of our trail system, and allow quiet, low impact, human powered travel.

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Not an Open Permit


Reversing the ban ≠ an open permit.

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Not an Open Permit


Reversing the ban ≠ an open permit.

Just as we're opposed to a blanket ban on bikes in wilderness areas, we're also opposed to a blanket permit.

To be clear, reversing the ban will not open a single mile of trail to bicycles.

What it will do is encourage living power sources, like bikers, hikers and equestrians to get along, work together, and partner with land managers to do what is in the best interest of each trail.

As a reminder to those who may not know the legislative history of the Wilderness Act, here is the original regulation that was enacted in 1966 to support the Wilderness Act, and how it addressed bicycles:

"Mechanical transport, as herein used, shall include any contrivance which travels over ground, snow, or water, on wheels, tracks, skids, or by floatation and is propelled by a nonliving power source contained or carried on or within the device."  

36 CFR § 293.6(a) (1973), formerly 36 CFR § 251.75 (1966)

Clearly bikes were originally allowed, and should never have been banned.  Please help us reverse this ban.