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Know the West

Enough is enough!

  Opening up wilderness areas, even "de facto" wilderness areas, to mountain bike use will set a bad precedent for the future of wilderness management in this country (HCN, 11/22/04: Racetrack). Allowing mountain bike use defies the basic principles of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

The comment made by Gary Sprung that "cycling in the backcountry is no worse for the environment than hiking," is misleading, in my opinion. Opening up backcountry areas to mountain bikes poses many problems: What about the trails built through meadows and steep areas of highly erodable soils? What about the disturbance this activity will have on wildlife? What about conflicts with other wilderness users such as backpackers and pack stock users? Lastly, while funding for wilderness programs in all of the four agencies responsible for managing these lands continues to dwindle, what impact will this have on budgets already stretched thin?

I’ve been an avid mountain biker for 17 years. I’ve also been a wilderness ranger in northwest California for the past six seasons. With all of the modern technology at our disposal these days, people are getting deeper into remote areas that in the past were not accessible, from snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park to OHVs in the Mojave Desert, and dirt bikes in national forests. Now mountain bikes in our wilderness areas? When do we start saying, "Enough is enough?"

Jerry Jordan
Weaverville, California