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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive_MT View Post
    Toast, the H-L&CNF forest plan revision is laying groundwork for pushing MTBs out of IRAs. The sleeper issue is the recreation opportunity spectrum (ROS). As defined in the DEIS, it doesn’t include a mention of bicycles in “Primitive” and does mention them in “Semi-Primitive, Non-Motorized.” We will argue that Primitive needs a sentence stating “bicycles may be encountered.” Otherwise the primitive ROS applied to IRAs may (will) start a precedent we don’t want.

    This is an important forest plan revision. They include an option to continue allowing bicycle travel in RWAs and WSAs. They rope that into an option that kicks bikes out of the Elkhorns, in response to requests from the public. One of our guys read all 800+ comments, and 3 of them included that request. It is VERY important to clearly make a request in your comments, and provide the reason why. And there’s no reason to choose one proposed alternative over another; the final decision can incorporate elements of any of them.
    Good to know, thanks for the info. And that sucks.

    And this is why it's almost impossible to win. We're fighting the people that wrote the laws and regulations, they're far better funded, and they have a large full time staff that are running a well worn playbook, whereas we're mostly volunteers who are basing our arguments on stupid things like logic and rational discussion.

    I get so pissed off dealing with this stuff that sometimes I have to just retract from the discussion. Only to check back in and find that the wilderfucks have yet another tactic to kick us off of even more land without any reason for doing so.

    You know it's bad when I'm actually looking to Zinke to implement some reasonable policies.

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  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Good to know, thanks for the info. And that sucks.

    And this is why it's almost impossible to win. We're fighting the people that wrote the laws and regulations, they're far better funded, and they have a large full time staff that are running a well worn playbook, whereas we're mostly volunteers who are basing our arguments on stupid things like logic and rational discussion.
    Further to what evasive said according to Greg B (who advised me to not get too wrapped up in the details) the DEIS designation is something that the Helena District dreamed up. So you're not just getting screwed you're getting screw by moving targets.

    I made the comment about a double-headed black mamba in re the Ice Caves route because in theory, there's nothing to prevent a FS district from triple layering a trail in RWA, WSA - and -IRA status therefore putting in three ways for bikes to get banned.

    Meanwhile this is what Crystal Lake Campground looks like due to closure for safety reasons to lop danger trees

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #53
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    Holy balls, they gave that a haircut. I camped there 2 summers ago and I’d never have recognized it.

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive_MT View Post
    Holy balls, they gave that a haircut. I camped there 2 summers ago and I’d never have recognized it.
    Ya, the FS does shit like that, but a bike in the woods is bad. Goddamn their stupidity is exhausting. Really scares me to hear all you lawyers who are impressed with the complexity of the tactics used to ban bikes. Makes it hard for me to be optimistic about our plight for access if myself as joe citizen has no idea how to combat this access beat down.


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  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahman View Post
    Maybe this has already been posted somewhere, but here's a link to the comment page for the Helena--Lewis and Clark National Forest Plan. Comments must be received by 9/6/18.

    https://cara.ecosystem-management.or...?Project=44589
    Thanks...I have been trying to parse the suggestions by MMBA on facebook for what we should write. We should be for Alternative C except keep allowing bikes in the North/South (?) Elkhorns, correct?

    I always wonder how much of the comment process is a popularity contest vs. trying to come up with something that triggers the USFS to reply or do additional justification. Seems to depend on the stage of the process and agency. Mtb advocacy really needs a western expert on these travel plans that can get us dentists to submit letters that have more of an impact.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by hick View Post
    Ya, the FS does shit like that, but a bike in the woods is bad. Goddamn their stupidity is exhausting. Really scares me to hear all you lawyers who are impressed with the complexity of the tactics used to ban bikes. Makes it hard for me to be optimistic about our plight for access if myself as joe citizen has no idea how to combat this access beat down.


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    Impressed is maybe a bad word. Horrified perhaps? Lots of money and very single minded and tenacious.

    Then they have enough money to pay law firms who then successfully sue the FS and get legal costs paid by the FS.

    Basically you're up against Gaiasexual EarthFirsters with lawyers

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive_MT View Post
    Toast, the H-L&CNF forest plan revision is laying groundwork for pushing MTBs out of IRAs. The sleeper issue is the recreation opportunity spectrum (ROS). As defined in the DEIS, it doesn’t include a mention of bicycles in “Primitive” and does mention them in “Semi-Primitive, Non-Motorized.” We will argue that Primitive needs a sentence stating “bicycles may be encountered.” Otherwise the primitive ROS applied to IRAs may (will) start a precedent we don’t want.

    This is an important forest plan revision. They include an option to continue allowing bicycle travel in RWAs and WSAs. They rope that into an option that kicks bikes out of the Elkhorns, in response to requests from the public. One of our guys read all 800+ comments, and 3 of them included that request. It is VERY important to clearly make a request in your comments, and provide the reason why. And there’s no reason to choose one proposed alternative over another; the final decision can incorporate elements of any of them.
    I was going to post that I wouldn't group IRAs with WSAs and RWAs, but this statement above is correct. I have read in other places about bikes not being listed as an acceptable user group on primitive trails and how this is an issue for MTB access. I hadn't heard of that issue as specific to IRA's though.

    The other sore spot is that the forest service will sometimes re-designate old roads as "trails" so that it can then designate an area that includes that old road as an IRA (inventoried roadLESS area). To be considered for nomination as Wilderness or RW an area normally has to first be designated as an IRA and be >5,000 acres in size. By re-designating roads as trails we can now have Wilderness that includes old roads, which is wonderful. What's happening now is the wilderness groups are going through the maps and nominating every polygon that is an IRA > 5,000 acres for the "maximum wilderness" alternative in each forest plan amendment and pushing those to be designated RW. The baseline alternative (no changes from current) is always there, and then there are usually an alternative or two somewhere in between, each with varying loss of access for bikes. I believe to be designated as RW areas also have to be assessed by the management plan process to possess wilderness characteristics. A guy here in SD was able to talk to someone high up in the Wilderness Society recently, and that person said their group is pissed over the STC push on bikes in wilderness and will be re-doubling its efforts towards influencing forest plans - that they may re-direct staff from recreation efforts (whatever those might have been) to responding to management plan updates.

    We fought new designations of RW in both the Cleveland and Angeles forests here in Socal, taking solid arguments as far as the objection phase on those plans. In both cases, the forest service decided to keep the proposed RW on the basis that "well congress will do whatever it wants in a wilderness bill eventually anyways, so omitting this area now won't change anything in the long run". In one case they did agree to not put in place a closure order for bikes in RW, which they acknowledged is required for bikes to be banned from RW. They just have to manage it to preserve wilderness characteristics. If bike traffic is low, they can be considered compatible. Regardless, the decisions they made certainly seemed premeditated. We lost access to maybe a 1/4mi of trail but that unfortunately blocked access to another 4-5 miles on private land that is part of the San Diego River Trail as well as future sections of that trail that are only now being envisioned. I don't know if this is the answer but I've been thinking that MTB groups should go ahead and propose our own wilderness bills that specifically exclude areas we want to maintain access to. We'd be giving up potential to whatever areas are included as Wilderness, but if we could permanently exclude areas of our choice, that may be an acceptable loss. We almost always seem to lose when the proposals come from the wildernuts.

    For bike access we seem to be victims of a perfect storm of opposition and apathy.

    We don't have enough pull because:
    - we're not a big enough or well funded group to begin with compared to our opposition
    - only a small % of riders actually ride backcountry trails
    - only a portion of those seem to want access to Wilderness
    - only a small portion of riders travel to and therefore care about some of the areas where we're losing access
    - only a small % of bikers are willing to take the time to write in comments
    Apply venn diagram to the above and there are very few riders fighting to maintain access. It would be nice to have a national org dedicated to responding to all of them but we've all seen how IMBA fights wilderness....

    Meanwhile, our opposition is well funded and effective because:
    - most of the public doesn't know that bikes are banned in Wilderness. Most people probably wouldn't care. The wildernuts certainly aren't going to point this out.
    - "protecting" areas has pretty much universal appear. Nevermind that there is seldom a specific threat that needs protecting from. They also don't point out that there are other designations that will often do an adequate job of protecting. Even a backcountry non-motorized designation will protect against development and motorized use. Not permanent, but good til the next management plan update in ~20 years.
    - they have lots of funding, paid staff, paid attorneys and plenty of environmental laws to turn to

    So how can we overcome this to protect access? Can Zinke save us? Trump is great at pandering to single issue voters. This is something that would actually sway me...not that I can vote down here.

  8. #58
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    Evdog, thought provoking post, thanks!


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  9. #59
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    The last comment period/discussion in February gave me the understanding that IRA can be a first step problem (it's often a lie based on an incomplete inventory of roads) but the next step is to decide how to manage it, which is where the ROS comes in. The Recreational Opportunity Spectrum includes any and all forms of recreation, and generally within any IRA of significant size there is supposed to be a spectrum of use, from motorized to hikers.

    I think our comments need to point out the need for trails offering solitude, long distances, and quiet, scenic views to backcountry bicyclists. These kinds of rides occupy a specific place on the ROS which is essentially identical to the experience sought by hikers and equestrians who travel deep into the backcountry, but we choose (or are pushed by physical, economic or environmental considerations) to use a bike instead of a horse or a few extra days with a pack and tent.

    Closure of these trails represents the destruction of a federally-owned resource, since the trails disappear without maintenance or use, and the recreational opportunity (itself the resource of value) goes with it. Trails in this category represent a large investment, whether by volunteers, the USFS or the WPA, and the land managers are tasked with protecting these investments. Letting roads fall off the map presents the same problem for motorized users (and others, like loggers, which is why it's a popular idea with conservationists). Letting the FS call an old road a "trail" is doubly problematic: roads make shitty trails in a now "roadless" area.

    It probably benefits mountain bikes to reach out to motorized users in that respect: if they can keep roads open there are less 5000-acre targets. That's where the Wildernut strategy of alienating bikers backfires, but all evidence points to dogma over logic there anyway, so unless (until?) they turn around and support the STC bill, any hope of cooperation with that crowd is just hand wringing and wishful thinking.

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by jono View Post
    I think our comments need to point out the need for trails offering solitude, long distances, and quiet, scenic views to backcountry bicyclists. These kinds of rides occupy a specific place on the ROS which is essentially identical to the experience sought by hikers and equestrians who travel deep into the backcountry, but we choose (or are pushed by physical, economic or environmental considerations) to use a bike instead of a horse or a few extra days with a pack and tent.

    Closure of these trails represents the destruction of a federally-owned resource, since the trails disappear without maintenance or use, and the recreational opportunity (itself the resource of value) goes with it. Trails in this category represent a large investment, whether by volunteers, the USFS or the WPA, and the land managers are tasked with protecting these investments. Letting roads fall off the map presents the same problem for motorized users (and others, like loggers, which is why it's a popular idea with conservationists). Letting the FS call an old road a "trail" is doubly problematic: roads make shitty trails in a now "roadless" area.
    I've been including a similar thoughts with any comments I've sent in for management plan updates and other processes lately. I'll often describe that that there are different types of mountain bikers who are each looking for different experiences because I don't think a lot of people think of bikers that way. For example there are downhillers who want vert, features, challenge, XC riders who might want distance, connectivity, variety of terrain, local riders who just want to throw down laps on nearby front country trail systems, and backcountry riders who want remote, primitive backcountry trails where views, solitude, self-reliance and challenge are prevalent.

    The latter are who ride in areas that are continuously being proposed for RWA/WSA or via wilderness bills, and those riders are constantly losing access to the areas that meet their needs. I also point out that backcountry riders are there for a similar experience as hikers and horseback riders moreso than other types of riders, but that we aren't always looking for the same destination - hikers usually aim for a peak, viewpoint, waterfall, lake whereas bikers might be more likely to desire a rideable loop or point to point route. Maybe a peak or lake but how rideable a trail is can filter out a lot of riders. I'll go on to explain that a lot of backcountry rides aren't likely to ever see a ton of bike traffic due to difficult access and difficult riding. A lot of riders just don't want that experience or aren't willing to put in the effort. That's a big reason I don't think allowing bikes in wilderness would realistically be a big deal. Where it is, land managers have the tools and experience to deal with it (permits, closures, etc). But since we don't have access to Wilderness, and since we are continually losing more access to remote areas, our needs as a user group are not being met.

    I've been wondering if it would be wise or at all persuasive to do an inventory of backcountry rides across the west including those we have lost access to with each new designation. Quantifying it might be a way to fight with facts rather than emotion.

  11. #61
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    I don't have anything to add at the moment, but I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all of the thoughtful posts in this thread. I will probably approach my not-infrequent conversations with people who work for the Wilderness industry a bit differently going forward.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by jono View Post

    It probably benefits mountain bikes to reach out to motorized users in that respect: if they can keep roads open there are less 5000-acre targets. That's where the Wildernut strategy of alienating bikers backfires, but all evidence points to dogma over logic there anyway, so unless (until?) they turn around and support the STC bill, any hope of cooperation with that crowd is just hand wringing and wishful thinking.
    Anecdotal evidence from Montana advocates is that Wilderness people despise mountain-bikers. They won't work with you. Period. That is in of itself very sad.

    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post

    I've been wondering if it would be wise or at all persuasive to do an inventory of backcountry rides across the west including those we have lost access to with each new designation. Quantifying it might be a way to fight with facts rather than emotion.
    Trailforks has a mapping schema going to show where trails are being lost because they're included in the holy trinity of RWA/IRA/WSA. It's not complete by any means but is here - https://www.trailforks.com/trails/landmanager/rwa/

    There's also this discussion started by the STC https://www.facebook.com/Sustainable...65802373528554

    STC needs your help. Next month, we'll be discussing H.R. 1349 and S.2877 with U.S. House of Representatives and Senate staff. Those are the two bills that would fulfill STC's vision to let Wilderness land managers try out mountain biking access where they think it might work.

    We'd like to prepare with examples of where tiny (a mile or so, or less) Wilderness, Recommended Wilderness, or Wilderness Study Area segments cut off mountain biking on a trail or force a detour around it.

    We don't mean large Wilderness blockages, like on the Colorado Trail.

    Rather, things like these examples (see also the images below):

    (a) The Maah Daah Hey Trail is cut off (North Dakota).
    (b) Elkhorn Crest Trail is cut off from Dutch Flat Trail (Oregon).
    (c) Dyke Trail near Crested Butte is rerouted (Colorado).
    (d) The CDT is cut off because of small RWA/WSA intrusions (Montana).

    We'd like to add to this short list. If you know of someplace, be it in West Virginia, California, or anywhere, would you let us know? Please post here or send us an email at info@sustainabletrailscoalition.org. Thanks.

  13. #63
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    And nowthis news from the Bitterroots

    https://ravallirepublic.com/news/loc...1d2d6a120.html

    "The deadline to submit objections is Oct. 9, 2018.

    Only individuals or entities who submitted timely and specific written comments during the Bitterroot Forest’s Travel Plan scoping or on the DEIS may file an objection. All objections must be focused on the mountain biking issue.
    "

    So only those who submitted objections and/or comments before can do so now. Quite the whitewash

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    such horseshit

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by 406 View Post
    Thanks...I have been trying to parse the suggestions by MMBA on facebook for what we should write. We should be for Alternative C except keep allowing bikes in the North/South (?) Elkhorns, correct?

    I always wonder how much of the comment process is a popularity contest vs. trying to come up with something that triggers the USFS to reply or do additional justification. Seems to depend on the stage of the process and agency. Mtb advocacy really needs a western expert on these travel plans that can get us dentists to submit letters that have more of an impact.
    As a short answer, that works. But be sure to tell the USFS why you want that.

    Regarding IRAs, the following snippets are from the 2001 Roadless Rule:

    Primitive, Semi-Primitive NonMotorized, and Semi-Primitive Motorized classes of dispersed recreation. Roadless areas often provide outstanding dispersed recreation opportunities such as hiking, camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, and canoeing. While they may have many Wilderness-like attributes, unlike Wilderness the use of mountain bikes, and other mechanized means of travel is often allowed. These areas can also take pressure off heavily used wilderness areas by providing solitude and quiet, and dispersed recreation opportunities. (p3245)

    and:
    Inventoried roadless areas provide a remote recreation experience without the activity restrictions of Wilderness (for example, off-highway vehicle use and mountain biking). Maintaining roadless areas would likely lessen visitation pressure on Wilderness compared to the baseline. (p3267)

    https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/roadl...lessRuleFR.pdf

    In other words, IRAs have always been seen as appropriate landscapes for mountain biking.

  16. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    Trailforks has a mapping schema going to show where trails are being lost because they're included in the holy trinity of RWA/IRA/WSA. It's not complete by any means but is here - https://www.trailforks.com/trails/landmanager/rwa/
    Thanks for the link, good to know. I only see New Mexico trails though? I have some great examples I can send them of places where access to short sections within Wilderness would open up access to much larger rides. Even if the STC bill does not go through I always thought it would be a reasonable ask to amend existing wilderness bills to modify the boundaries so that such trails are completely outside wilderness. Trade some additional acreage in other spots to compensate. It is mindblowing how little thought has gone into recreation when it comes to wilderness bills.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    So only those who submitted objections and/or comments before can do so now. Quite the whitewash
    The process actually makes sense to me, but it only works if you were aware of the process to begin with. The problem the USFS was having is they were constantly getting sued for all kinds of shit even after years of public comment processes and then making a decision. Now you have to comment on something during the original comment period or on another comment period after the draft decision is released, and then when the final decision is released and you don't like it you can only object to aspects that you actually commented on. I've filed objections twice and gone to the meetings - they don't actually seem to be that strict on it, though if you came back with something totally out of left field they might tell you to take a hike. They bigger problem is they seem to be totally prejudiced in their decisions and the process now allows them to listen to your objection and then say we've considered it but based on our analysis the decision remains x. And you really have no recourse at that point. That is the whitewash.

    In one objection I thought we had a bulletpoint case for them to change the decision, and it was such a minor change it was laughable. A local non-profit SD River Park Foundation owns a bunch of land in the San Diego backcountry. As part of their mission to protect the river and its headwaters they are developing a trail from the beach all the way to Julian which will help build awareness for conservation and get people interested in the river. They are great at raising money and are constantly buying more land, and they're bike friendly. This trail is on the County's general plan and they have pretty much everyone on board. The trail runs through a few miles of their land at one point before crossing over a small corner of Forest service land before hitting a road. That corner is part of a bigger plot of forest land that was designated as RW in the management plan amendment. We were asking for that little corner, we're talking a few hundred feet, to be excluded from RW. Despite everyone's comments they didn't remove it. So objections were filed. SD County Park & Rec filed one since the trail is on their general plan as a multi-use trail. The River Park Foundation filed one as the group behind the trail. The local bike club filed one as the user group affected. I filed one myself as a user. The idea in the meeting is to come to a reasonable resolution to the objection that works for everyone. They listened to all of us and then basically said well when there is an eventual Wilderness bill brought forward it won't matter what we do here - it could include or exclude that corner, or do something completely different - so we're not changing the decision. We got pretty much the same answer the second time, though in that one they agreed not to issue a forest order closing the now-in-RW trails to bikes. Not sure if they ever did that here. Hence my thought about bringing forward our own wilderness bill. We could exclude the area we'll need to make the whole trail open to bikes and the rest is a sacrificial trade off.

    Of maybe we should start a letter campaign to Zinke and Trump telling them how the Obama loving wildernuts are taking away our freedoms, and all they need to do is force the USFS to change its regulation re bikes in wilderness. Some reverse psychology might do the trick.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Of maybe we should start a letter campaign to Zinke and Trump telling them how the Obama loving wildernuts are taking away our freedoms, and all they need to do is force the USFS to change its regulation re bikes in wilderness. Some reverse psychology might do the trick.
    Something like that. That would be a solid way to avoid the need for STC's bills, but I doubt we could get their attention. On the other hand, a lot of people would like to stop the practice of managing RW/WSA as Wilderness. The fact that that could be done by the executive seems like proof that it's a violation of the Wilderness Act in the first place, but I digress.

    It's possible to preserve the land without managing it as Wilderness if they barred uses that change the land but not those whose only sin is against the human users of Wilderness. That would leave open a lot of sled and MTB access. The USFS's choice to take it further in order to modify the political playing field (and brazenly saying so in their explanation of decisions) is just the sort of story the Trump camp should love--especially the part where it happened during the Obama administration when the bureaucrats were feeling most safe.

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    This is one of the all-time most depressing threads on TGR. Fuck.

    Interesting that the Winter Wildlands Alliance is basically anti-bike since they're anti snowmobile. Our local group of anti snowmobile assholes finally changed their charter to become a year-round "quiet use" group (that is seeking to close bike trails while we go through local forest revision). So to sum up, fuck the Winter Wildlands Alliance.

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    Isn't the wildernut complaint about bikes that they are too quiet, and scare dimwitted hikers when we approach silently?

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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Isn't the wildernut complaint about bikes that they are too quiet, and scare dimwitted hikers when we approach silently?
    Unless they flip it around and complain that we are too loud and harsh their buzz by having fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenboy View Post
    This is one of the all-time most depressing threads on TGR. Fuck.

    Interesting that the Winter Wildlands Alliance is basically anti-bike since they're anti snowmobile. Our local group of anti snowmobile assholes finally changed their charter to become a year-round "quiet use" group (that is seeking to close bike trails while we go through local forest revision). So to sum up, fuck the Winter Wildlands Alliance.
    I checked out the WWA site, and the ED, Mark Menlove is also co-founder of the Outdoor Alliance. The Outdoor Alliance works to "ensure those lands are managed in a way that embraces the human-powered experience." The OA also numbers among their partners IMBA.

    Quite the tangled web.

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Isn't the wildernut complaint about bikes that they are too quiet, and scare dimwitted hikers when we approach silently?
    I believe the argument is that bikes are both too loud and too quiet, simultaneously.

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    I thought this was useful in showing how the Wilderness movement thinks and how they mythologize their own purity while demonizing any and every other activity that doesn't fit their own vision https://www.nationalgeographic.com/a...-conservation/

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    ^^^ Good piece, pretty even and balanced.

    Thx.

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    +1. Thanks for posting that. Will be looking into the Outdoor Alliance.

    I do wish we could get past that repeated fallacy of Wilderness being the most protected land in the country, though. The miners are still at work on the wilderness and its ardent "protectors" spend all their time worrying about the "impact" of seeing people in colorful boats and hats.

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