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Sen. Lee reintroduces Wilderness bill

Published June 12, 2019
The Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act would allow land managers to permit bikes and other human powered vehicles in federal Wilderness areas.

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Sen. Mike Lee has reintroduced Senate bill S. 1695, the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act, which would allow local managers to permit bicycles on existing trails and roads in federal Wilderness areas. 

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The Utah Republican introduced similar legislation in 2016 and 2018. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the House in previous sessions but has not been introduced in that chamber so far this session.

The Senate bill will not open Wilderness trails to mountain biking unless the federal agency in charge of a Wilderness area authorizes it or takes no action within two years. Trails would open to nonmotorized, human-powered travel, letting agency staff observe the result. They would still be able to restrict or prohibit mountain biking, just as they can other recreational activities.

The bill does not require creating trails or modifying existing ones to facilitate bicycling or other human-powered uses. It calls for the character of a Wilderness area is to be preserved.

“The National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy our country’s priceless natural areas,” Lee said. “This bill would enrich Americans’ enjoyment of the outdoors by expanding recreational opportunities in wilderness areas.”

The legislation is supported by the Sustainable Trails Coalition, a mountain bike group. 

“STC trusts Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service rangers to manage their land,” said STC's president, Ted Stroll. “The only people who will be opposing this legislation are those who question the skills of USFS, BLM, and NPS employees and think they’re incapable of regulating human-powered travel.”

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