Deals on wheels


"Thinking Outside the Timber Box" left out the struggles of the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance, which represents the thousands of mountain bike riders in Montana (HCN, 7/20/09). There is a middle ground of recreation that lies between the "motorheads" and the wilderness-loving hikers. Bicyclists have gravitated to the beautiful locations in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge that were not designated wilderness for the last 30 years. Now they are getting displaced, and communities are going to lose their seasonal revenue. Some area trails are going to fall into disrepair. There simply aren't enough federal staff out there to keep things open in all of the new wilderness.

The story contained lots of words about experimentation. I wish it was all an experiment, but wilderness is permanent. The elected officials who vote on it are clueless, subject to whatever hype or distorted facts are fed to them. If the process within Montana were more democratic, more people could get on board, even the bicyclists.

Bicyclists have supported a majority of the wilderness being proposed, but require a few minor adjustments in boundaries and use of corridors. Sadly, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership has been reluctant to make those adjustments — thereby converting a potential friendly group into a foe.