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STC applauds bill that would end blanket ban on bikes in Wilderness areas

Published March 6, 2017

WASHINGTON  (BRAIN) — The Sustainable Trails Coalition is applauding legislation introduced last week that would end a ban on bikes, wheelchairs, strollers and game carts in federally designated Wilderness areas. The bill, introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., would let federal land managers regulate the use of such vehicles on Wilderness trails. 

STC was founded in 2015 to lobby for reversing bike bans in Wilderness areas as well as in Recommended Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas, on the Pacific Crest Trail, and on parts of the Continental Divide Trail.

The group says that Congress intended to allow human-powered travel in Wilderness areas when it passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, and for years afterward bicycling was allowed. According to the group, in 1984 the Forest Service overturned a regulation that allowed locally based federal employees to decide where bicycles could be ridden in Wilderness areas, replacing it with a nationwide blanket ban. Other agencies followed.

“Congressman McClintock’s bill will give mountain bikers long-overdue relief from agency misunderstandings,” said STC board member Ted Stroll.

STC board member Jackson Ratcliffe said, “It’s important to understand that reversing the ban is not an open permit. ... Land management agencies already have the authority to regulate campsite locations, hunting and where horses are allowed, or not. This legislation will simply return decision-making back to local authorities.”

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