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U.S. Congress Passes Four Bike-Friendly Land Protection Bills

For Immediate Release 12/17/2014
Contact mark [dot] eller [at] imba [dot] com (Mark Eller)
IMBA Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 115

Image: Stone Creek, Montana. Photo by Bob Allen Images.

As 2014 draws to a close, the U.S. Congress succeeded in passing four land protection bills that mountain bikers can feel good about. The bills were attached to legislation that provides for military spending in 2015. The measure, which also expands the national park system, has cleared both the House and Senate and will be signed into law by President Obama in short order.

IMBA and its local supporting organizations have actively supported all four of the successful land protection plans. “Passing these bills is a testament to the collaborative approach mountain bikers have taken in recent years,” says IMBA Conservation Manager Aaron Clark. “Despite the highly partisan political scene in Washington, D.C., we were able to find common ground between conservatives and progressives, and help build bipartisan support for land protection that preserves natural areas while allowing for healthy, bicycle-based recreation.”

One of the four bills—New Mexico’s Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act—includes a boundary adjustment to a Wilderness parcel that was first drawn up for the original 1964 Wilderness Act. Fifty years after the Wilderness designation was created, the boundary will be moved to accommodate mountain bike access to a high country singletrack trail. The Del Norte Mountain Bike Alliance, an IMBA chapter, has actively supported the bill.

Highlights of the other bills include:

  • Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act: Mountain bikers in the state of Washington worked with Wilderness advocates to shape boundaries so the popular Middle Fork Snoqualmie trail would remain open to biking.
  • Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act: Colorado mountain bikers supported this bill because it utilizes a range of appropriate designation tools such as Wilderness, Special Management Areas, and Mineral Withdrawals to establish appropriate protections for approximately 107,886 acres in the San Juan National Forest.
  • Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act: Montana’s spectacular landscapes like the Rocky Mountain Front are valued assets for the bicycling community that draws visitors from around the country. This bill permanently protects 275,000 acres through Wilderness and a companion Conservation Management Area that provides continued access to historically important mountain bike trails in the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Last week, Congress also passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, known as the “Cromnibus” bill. The legislation continues to fund the day-to-day agency operations that keep our public lands open at levels consistent with the 2014 Continuing Resolution. Importantly for mountain bikers, funding for the Recreational Trails Program and The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act were both extended until September 30, 2015.