In recent weeks, the national discussion around bicycles in Wilderness areas has reached a fever pitch. Here at NWTA, we wanted to take this opportunity to let all of our members know where we stand on the issue.
As many of you know, HB 1349, championed by the Sustainable Trails Coalition and sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock of California, has passed the House Committee on Natural Resources. This bill would amend the Wilderness Act to ensure that the use of bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and game carts could be allowed in federally designated Wilderness Areas if deemed appropriate by local land managers. Prior to this bills passage in committee, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) provided written testimony to the Committee, speaking for its 35,000 members, and stating as an organization they did not support the bill.
NWTA recognizes that bicycle access in Wilderness Areas is a complicated and at times, polarizing issue. We would like to communicate to our members that we do not support IMBA’s testimony. This is not based on picking one side over the other, but rather we believe our niche of the recreational community is too small for divisions over access strategies that take away from overall goals. This testimony, as well as the debate in the media that has preceded it, has done much to drive a wedge amongst the mountain bike community. Nowhere is this more apparent than in western states like Oregon, where access to some of our most cherished trails has been lost in recent years.
No matter the issue, we want our members to know that our primary goal is to (and will always be) to create, enhance, and protect mountain bike riding opportunities in the northwest Oregon, Southwest Washington and Portland areas.