Access in the Bitterroot
Yesterday afternoon the Senate passed a historic, bipartisan public lands package that includes bills IMBA has been working on for months and years. It improves federal funding for trails and designates millions of acres of public land in a variety of new land protections that have been vetted and influenced by IMBA, IMBA Local groups and other recreation partners. Together we have ensured these bills are protecting and enhancing mountain bike trails across the country with balanced and lasting solutions. Advancing our mission includes dedication to defending and conserving not only trails, but our beautiful public lands, forests and deserts as a whole.
This package includes programs like permanent reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Every Kid Outdoors Act, and great protections and enhanced opportunities for mountain bike trails with the Emery County Public Lands Initiative, McCoy Flats designation and Mountains to Sound Greenway bill.
The last time sweeping public lands legislation this monumental was passed, in 2009, mountain biking took some serious hits. A decade later, we’ve tipped the scales in a big way thanks to active and engaged mountain bikers across the country. Together we’ve protected trail access, expanded new opportunities, and set policies to replicate elsewhere.
The next step for this package is a vote in the House. If you support the package, please write your Senators to thank them for passing the package, then ask your House members to vote on it quickly. Send both messages with one click.
What’s on deck for mountain biking in this big, bipartisan package? Here are a few examples.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) received permanent reauthorization! Thank you to the mountain bikers who have taken action time and again on this important program, submitting over 3,200 letters to Congress last fall when the program expired. LWCF is a popular, bipartisan program that reinvests royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling into recreation and conservation projects all across the country, including eight IMBA EPIC trails. The next step for LWCF will be working to get the program fully funded.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide all fourth graders (and three adult friends) with free access to national parks and other fee areas on public lands, to expand opportunities for children to experience and appreciate our iconic public lands. More kids outside means more kids on bikes.
The Emery County Public Land Management Act protects mountain biking and bikepacking in central Utah’s San Rafael Swell landscape, while creating new opportunities for trails. We worked to modify boundaries to protect trail access and create a 217,000 acre bike-friendly National Recreation Management Area rather than the precarious National Conservation Area that was originally proposed. The bill also requires a study of the new recreation area to expand mountain biking.
The McCoy Flats Trail System bill—about a series of trails in Vernal, Utah—“codifies,” or formally designates, McCoy Flats to protect it from threats of oil and gas extraction and other pressures. An individual protection specific to mountain biking like this sets good precedent for future, similar designations to protect more trails.
The Mountains to Sound Greenway bill designates a National Heritage Area outside of Seattle, Washington, and creates new opportunities for trail building and mountain bike access. Our friends at Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance have collaborated on recreational trail projects within the greenway for many years. It is rewarding to see this joint investment in mountain bike trails protected through a National Heritage Site designation.
Mountain bikers can’t celebrate just yet—the House must pass the same package to move this process along. If you support the package, tell your House representatives to pass the package!
Thank you for being an awesome advocate!