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Omnibus Lands Bill Unlikely, But IMBA Stands Ready

For Immediate Release 12-2-2010
Contact: Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
markeller [at] imba [dot] com
303-545-9011 ext. 115

A massive omnibus land protection bill has received attention, but seems unlikely to move through the U.S. Congress during the lame duck session. "In the current political climate, we think it's doubtful that lawmakers will put an omnibus proposal on the fast track," said Jenn Dice, IMBA government affairs director. "Nonetheless, IMBA is meeting with congressional leaders and agency staff, and keeping them appraised of the bike-friendly solutions that exist for protecting America's cherished wild places."

Several of the current land protection proposals have been shaped by IMBA's recently announced Public Lands Initiative. Key strategies that IMBA employs include:

  • Emphasize the importance of bringing local cyclists and other stakeholders together with congressional sponsors to shape legislation
  • Negotiate bills so that conservation, recreation and other goals can be balanced with input from all parties
  • Champion Companion Designations, boundary adjustments and other measures that allow for bicycle trail access
  • Look for innovative solutions, such as bike corridors in Wilderness areas, that make land protection inclusive for the millions of bicyclists in America

IMBA and its affiliated network of clubs, chapters and bike patrols have long promoted the view that land protection doesn’t have to come at the expense of bicycle access. "Over the years, we have supported dozens of land protection bills, including ones that contain large Wilderness proposals," said Dice. "Even though Wilderness areas, as they are currently managed, ban bicycle travel mountain bikers can still support bills where bike access has been protected, usually through the use of boundary adjustments and alternative designations that supplement Wilderness areas."

See below for examples of land protection campaigns that IMBA and its local affiliates have helped shape or are working to address.

Arizona Proposal

H.R. 6155 Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness Act
Sponsor: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)

IMBA supports this 80,725-acre Wilderness bill on the border of Arizona and Mexico and has asked Chairman Grijalva to consider a non-Wilderness corridor for important trails in the heart of the proposal to allow our continued access.

California Proposals

H.R. 3444/ S. 3744 Pinnacles National Park Act
Sponsors: Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

This bill would upgrade Pinnacles National Monument to a National Park. IMBA supports this bill.

H.R. 4040 Big Sur Forest Management Act
Sponsor: Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA)

This act would add 2,000 acres to existing Wilderness and protect several rivers with Companion Designations. The trails that would habe been closed by this bill have all been removed. IMBA now supports this bill.

H.R. 4304 Beauty Mountain Agua Tibia Wilderness Act
Sponsor: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

This bill would expand existing Wilderness by 21,000 acres. The Wilderness in this bill is mainly desert, in areas where there are no mountain bike trails or potential cycling. IMBA supports this bill.

S. 2921 The California Desert Protection Act
Sponsor: Sen. Dianne Fienstein (D-CA)

IMBA supports this bill that would create 250,000 acres of Wilderness, several National Monuments and a Companion Designation of a Special Management Area that allows for mountain biking.

Colorado Proposals

H.R. 6280 Eagle and Summit County Preservation Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)

IMBA has worked with local clubs, the bicycle industry and Congressman Polis’s staff for 18 months to insure that this legislation will be bike-friendly. All current legal mountain bike trails in the bill will remain open and the important Reudi Overlook Trail will be re-opened to bicycles. IMBA supports this bill and is working to sort out final issues in four areas regarding future trail opportunities. These include Spraddle Creek and West Lake Creek in Eagle County and Williams Forks, Acorn Creek and Ute Pass in Summit County. This bill has appropriate Wilderness and several Companion Designations of Special Management Areas.

H.R. 4289 Colorado Wilderness Act
Sponsor: Rep. Diana Degette (D-CO)

IMBA testified before Congress against this bill in March but has worked closely with Congresswomen Degette’s staff since then to maintain bicycle access to all existing mountain bike trails. Only one area of concern remains for this bill, the Lorax Trail in the Thompson Creek proposed unit. IMBA is working with the BLM to find options for officially establishing this area as a mountain bike trail.

H.R. 3914/ S.2762 San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act
Sponsors: Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)

IMBA supports this bill. The San Juan bill has been crafted with existing trail systems in mind and incorporates appropriate Wilderness and Companion Designations to allow our continued bicycle access. The bill protects important remote scenic areas from oil and gas development and does not close any mountain bike trails or impeded future trail development.

Idaho Proposal

H.R. 5205/ S.3294 CIEDRA/Boulder White Clouds
Sponsors: Rep. Michael Simpson (R-ID), Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID)

With the introduction of the Public Lands Initiative, IMBA has been able to re-engage in the discussion about this bill. The important Germania Trail and Big Boulder to Little Boulder trails will now remain open. However, additional trails including Fourth of July Creek to Ants Basin to Warm Springs will be closed in the current version of the bill. IMBA is working with Rep. Simpson’s staff to find a way to keep these trails open while protecting this important roadless area. This proposal would likely be omitted from a omnibus bill.

Michigan Proposal

H.R. 4558/ S. 2976 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act
Sponsors: Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)

No mountain bike trails will be affected by this bill, which IMBA supports.

Montana Proposals

S.1470 Forest Jobs and Recreation Act
Sponsor: Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)

Last October, IMBA sponsored important meetings with local Montana advocates including the Montana Mountain Bike Association and members of the Montana Wilderness Alliance. This meeting produced a list of outstanding issues that would need to be resolved to make the Tester bill bicycle friendly and gain IMBA's support. Senator Tester’s staff is aware of these issues, which include maintaining bicycle access to the important Tahepia Lake Trail among others. Energetic negotiations continue on these remaining issues. This bill also includes Companion Designations and 600,000 acres of Wilderness mountain bicyclists can support.

New Mexico Proposals

S. 874 El Rio Grande Del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act
Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

IMBA supports this proposal, which makes use of bike-friendly Companion Designations.

Oregon Proposals

S.1689 Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act
Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

This act includes 270,000 acres of Wilderness and 110,000 acres of a Companion Designation, National Conservation Area, a model, which IMBA is working to replicate in other areas where more land can be protected to compliment Wilderness designations.

H.R. 2888/ S. 1272 Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act
Sponsors: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

IMBA supports this bill. It protects a remote area that is not desirable for mountain biking.

S. 2963 Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock Wilderness Areas Act
Sponsor: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

These two 8,000 acre Wilderness areas would protect the banks of the John Day River. IMBA supports the bill.

H.R. 2890/ S.1271 Lower Rogue Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
Sponsors: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

IMBA supports this bill, as it is critical for the protection of this coastal eco-system and the recreational economy that depends on it.

Tennessee Proposal

S.3470 Tennessee Wilderness Act
Sponsor: Rep. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

This 20,000-acre Wilderness bill does not close any existing mountain bike trails, but plans for a new highway through nearby Forest Service lands could close important trails. Replacement trails could be built but not if new Wilderness prohibits it. IMBA is working with SORBA and local advocates in Tennessee to halt this bill until the new highway route is chosen. This bill will likely be held over until the next congressional session.

Utah Proposals

H.R. 1925 / S. 799 America’s Red Rock Act
Sponsors: Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)

IMBA has been working on this 9.4-million acre bill for more than 10 years. We have completed three state wide inventories and continue to collect data through out the state. At this time, the proposed Wilderness would protect the Porcupine Rim Trail from extraction threats while allowing continued bicycle access. IMBA continues to work with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to sort out issues on future trail areas if this long-standing bill ever gains traction. This bill will not be included in a public lands Omnibus bill and doesn't have political momentum in the next Congress.

H.R. 5009 Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Management Act
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT)

IMBA supports this bill and has worked with Congressman Matheson and Save Our Canyons to protect this important area and its nearby trails just outside Salt Lake City. The bill’s Wilderness boundaries have been drawn with existing trail systems in mind and will protect continued bicycle access.

Washington Proposal

H.R. 1769/ S. 721 Alpine Lakes Wilderness and the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act
Sponsors: Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

IMBA supports the expansion of these existing Wilderness areas and the Companion Designation that would allow continued cycling.

West Virginia Proposal

H.R. 5965/ S. 3863 Monongahela Conservation Legacy Act
Sponsors: Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV)

IMBA presented testimony against bill H.R. 5965 the Monongahela Legacy Act of 2010 on Sept. 16, 2010, asking that the bill be modified in one of two ways, a non-motorized corridor or continued protection by the existing Companion Designation. Active negotiations continue on this area.