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December 20, 2017

What about Wilderness?

Surrounded by expansive public lands, we are fortunate here in Telluride to have seemingly endless access to explore the unforgiving terrain that abounds in Southwestern, Colorado but specific land designations create either opportunities or constraints of us as mountain bikers. A recent debate regarding federally designated Wilderness areas is buzzing right along on the interwebz with a spectrum of opinions, ideas, and solutions for how to protect and preserve land while still allowing the public to experience these amazing places.

The debate at it’s core is simple; does the human powered nature of mountain biking warrant their acceptance in to Wilderness areas and does the current state of mountain biking warrant opening up the Wilderness Act to allow mountain bikes and other forms of human powered wheeled travel?

On December 13, the House Natural Resources Committee voted 22-18 to move to the House floor a bill, HR 1349, sponsored by California Republican Tom McClintock that would allow bikes into wilderness areas. A companion bill, S.3205, has been introduced in the Senate. If passed, the bills would overturn the longstanding ban on bicycles in federally designated wilderness areas and give local land managers discretion to open trails they deem appropriate to bikes.

This bill could prove good or bad here in San Miguel County and in our surrounding public lands. But no matter what happens with this bill, we need your help to bring a cohesive, knowledgeable, and professional voice to the mountain bike community to help move things forward on public lands and with land management agencies.  At SMBA, we value the need for Wilderness areas and their standards of protection and believe in and support IMBA’s stance. If you’re curious how you can be involved in the Wilderness discussion, Mountain Bike advocacy or trail development efforts here please reach out to us: max@telluridesmba.org or sound off on our facebook page

If you’re unfamiliar with this debate here is some reading to get you up to speed:

IMBA’s Response

Pinkbike Coverage

Sierra Club Opinion

Where do YOU stand on this highly divisive issue?