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NPS streamlines process for trail expansion

Published July 6, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN) Friday July 6 2012 1:07 PM MT—The National Park Service has updated its regulations around bike access in its parks nationwide. The new rule streamlines the process of trail expansion.

In a press release, the NPS said the rule gives park superintendents the authority to allow bicycles on roads that are closed to motor vehicles—like fire roads and roads used by park maintenance vehicles. Bikes are allowed on park roads open to vehicles. It also moves decision-making about where bike use is appropriate from a regulatory to a planning process.

But new trails will still be subject to environmental compliance requirements and public comment before opening. New trails outside of developed areas will continue to require a park-specific special regulation approved by the director of the National Park Service. The NPS will still prohibit bike use in eligible, study, proposed, recommended and designated wilderness areas.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association, which has been a formal partner of the NPS since 2005, welcomed the rule change.

“With this adjustment, it’s easier to bring a new trail online and develop areas of the parks. It reduces the amount of time spent on paperwork and the bureaucracy of that process,” said Mark Eller, communications director with IMBA. “Before, a proposed new trail had to go through many more layers of paperwork. We’ve advocated for this change.”

Eller said the NPS still has many safeguards in place for developing trails and he doesn’t expect a ton of new trails to open as a result, but “this should make it a more streamlined process. It will hopefully help us create more opportunities for mountain biking. It’s clearly something people are interested in.”

The National Park Service currently allows mountain biking in 44 of its nearly 400 properties, Eller said.

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Topics associated with this article: Advocacy/Non-profits

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