Wilderness Bill Is a Dead End for Bicyclists

A letter to the editor

Source of this article – Los Angeles Times, Letters to the Editor, February 26, 2005.

Re “Lost Coast Finds New Guardians,” Feb. 20: As a mountain bike advocate and environmentalist, I have spent more than 18 years trying to build a coalition between mountain bicyclists and the environmental movement. On most things we agree, but designated wilderness is certainly our most thorny issue. The 1964 Wilderness Act did not ban bikes, but when 1984 regulations did, they positioned mountain bicyclists and wilderness advocates as opponents. This need not be the case.

Bicyclists love and want to protect wild places, but wilderness is not the only way to do it. Such alternative designations as national conservation areas or protection areas can provide all the environmental protection of wilderness and still allow bicycles. Wilderness advocates often claim wilderness is the only way, but it’s not. In the case of the North Coast, bicyclists should not have to give up 170 miles of trails when these other alternatives can work as well. It’s disheartening to read Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) claim that he has addressed “all the legitimate issues” when he knows that appropriate recreational access to wilderness and public lands is a legitimate issue that’s emphasized in the Wilderness Act. I want to be able to support this new wilderness bill, but it isn’t ready.

JIM HASENAUER Woodland Hills

(This letter is a response to this article in the LA Times.)

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