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Utah's senators introduce bill that would make it easier to mountain bike in Wilderness Areas

Published July 18, 2016

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Utah's Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch are supporting a bill that would allow local land managers to decide whether to allow and how to manage mountain biking in federally designated wilderness areas, something that some mountain bikers have been advocating. 

The Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act, introduced by Lee, also would allow the use of chainsaws and wheelbarrows for trail maintenance and construction in wilderness areas. 

"Our National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy the solitude and recreational opportunities of this continent's priceless natural areas," said Lee. "This bill would enrich Americans' enjoyment of the outdoors by making it easier for them to mountain bike in wilderness areas." Senator Lee further expanded upon his comments on his official website.

Bill co-sponsor Hatch said, "This bill presents a reasonable approach to allowing the use of mountain bikes on trails and grant federal land managers the ability to do necessary maintenance."

A 1984 Forest Service ruling overturned a longstanding regulation allowing locally based federal employees to decide where bicycles could be ridden in wilderness areas, replacing it with a nationwide blanket ban. 

The Sustainable Trails Coalition applauded the move. STC board member Ted Stroll said, "Sen. Lee's bill will modify outdated blanket bans on human-powered travel and relieve a worsening situation. The Forest Service in particular continues to impose bans on mountain biking. These bans drive cyclists away even as the Forest Service admits it cannot maintain trails and needs volunteers to do the maintenance it no longer performs."

The bill is SB3205.

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