The Colorado Front Range’s most technical trail gets an extension
On February 18, 2016, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) announced on a press conference call that it will take a more active and assertive stance with regard to future Wilderness proposals that would affect mountain bike trails. IMBA will challenge existing Wilderness designations where mountain bike trails have been lost on a case-by-case basis.
IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel led the discussion. He explained that the organization’s 2016 advocacy position is based on three key points:
- Regarding future Wilderness proposals, IMBA believes it is unacceptable to lose access to trails currently enjoyed by mountain bikers.
- IMBA will investigate and pursue legislation that realigns existing Wilderness boundaries to re-open trails to mountain bikers.
- IMBA will not seek to amend the Wilderness Act of 1964.
Highlights from Van Abel's remarks include the following.
I want to assure all mountain bikers, we hear you. We strive to understand your priorities and preferred riding experiences. IMBA’s board and staff are all mountain bikers. And our resolve, and passion to meet our mission has an intensity and momentum that is unprecedented in my time here—IMBA’s membership is at an historic high.
IMBA will not expend its hard-earned political capital on an endeavor as politically risky as overturning the entirety of the Congressionally popular Wilderness Act when so much more access can be achieved on the vast majority of public lands that are not currently protected as Wilderness.
The heightened level of dialogue from mountain bikers on this issue speaks to the intrinsic value that community engagement adds to access of our trails and public lands. We look forward to the IMBA network learning from one another’s local experiences on access at the 2016 World Summit.
Van Abel also noted that IMBA is currently doing its due diligence pursuing the possibility of taking legal action in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana/Idaho. Should IMBA determine there is precedence for legal action, it will ask the court whether the United States Forest Service properly applied the National Environmental Policy Act in its determination that bikes would diminish the character of a landscape.
Listen to an audio file of the entire press conference below (it may take a few minutes to load).