Posts Tagged With: mountain biking

Who Owns the Forests? Mountain Bike Trail Riders and Park Pros Weigh In

Originally posted on NRPA’s Open Space blog on June 19, 2014.

Trailblazers

Mountain bikers and park agencies often butt heads over illegally built trail systems, but some have found ways to collaborate and create exciting networks available to all. Photo: International Mountain Bicycling Association.

When I began my research for the feature article on collaboratively built mountain biking trails  for the June issue of Parks & Recreation Magazine, I started out by watching Pedal-Driven, a 2011 documentary that looks at both sides of the debate surrounding illegal mountain bike trail building in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests near Leavenworth, Washington. There, the U.S. Forest Service manages more than 4 million acres along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range, and in recent years, the land has been inundated with problems due to illegal trail building by mountain bikers in the area.

It’s a dilemma that public land managers see every day, and it gets to the heart of the preservation vs. conservation debate. Is it better to preserve publicly-owned lands for the future and make them inaccessible to humans who might harm them, or should we open them up to the public, accept the reality of human impacts on the landscape but nurture the next generation of environmental stewards? Also, what should be the role of government in the protection of publicly-owned lands, and what right does the government have to ban citizens from enjoying lands that they collectively own? Continue reading

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Congress passes bill to support year-round outdoor recreation

West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort offers downhill mountain biking, geocaching, sport shooting, fly fishing, lift rides and more during the summer.

In the wake of an ugly year of partisan politics, there’s at least one thing both sides of the aisle can agree on — the benefits of year-round outdoor recreation. The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 765, S. 382), which amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, has just passed in both the House of Representatives (394-0) as well as the Senate (unanimous consent), and given President Obama’s declared support of the bill, he’s expected to sign it into law in the next few weeks.

Under the 1986 legislation, the 121 ski areas in the country that operate on public lands (located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming) were only authorized to support nordic and alpine skiing. So technically, snowboarding on ski area lands leased by the federal government was illegal. And there were no provisions for ski areas to provide for non-winter sports and activities, though many facilities are perfectly suited to offer a wide range of year-round opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The new bill fills in the gaps and opens the umbrella for things like mountain bike terrain parks and trail systems, frisbee golf courses, zip lines and ropes courses, but don’t worry — it specifically excludes things like tennis courts, golf courses and amusement rides. After all, the first specification listed in the bill is that each federally authorized activity and facility shall, as its primary purpose, “encourage outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature.”

So what does this mean for the outdoor community? More opportunities for both business and adventure. Continue reading

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