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Reshaped Land Protection Bill in Colorado is Ready for Next Steps

For Immediate Release 9-30-2010

Contact Mark Eller

IMBA Communications Director

markeller [at] imba [dot] com

303-545-9011 ext.115

Months of discussions between IMBA, its affiliated clubs and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) have reshaped a Colorado land protection bill in significant ways. Known as the Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act, the bill includes portions of the Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal, a land protection plan that has been circulated in the state for more than a year. The bill includes approximately 82,000 acres of land appropriate for protection under the Wilderness designation (which prohibits bicycling), and 78,000 acres protected by Companion Designations (which allow for bicycling), IMBA is now ready to support the passage of the bill.

One change in the bill that will be popular with mountain bikers is that it restores bike access to the Reudi Overlook Trail, a classic ride that was closed years ago when a Wilderness Study Area was enacted. Additionally, some 67,425 acres originally proposed for Wilderness designation have been adjusted to accommodate existing mountain bike trails and future trail development. "Hundreds of miles of singletrack stay open to cyclists, including treasured rides like the Wheeler Trail, Son of Middle Creek, and current and future riding opportunities on the Bemrose Trail," said IMBA Government Affairs Director Jenn Dice.

Resources from IMBA’s recently created Public Lands Initiative were instrumental in sorting out this proposal. “Mountain bikers do not want to ride through damaged ecosystems — we understand and believe in the value of responsible land protection legislation,” said IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. “Our people have been working on these plans for more than a year now, scouring maps and attending meetings with various stakeholder groups. We’ve developed a productive dialogue with Congressman Polis, and we’re now pleased to support this important proposal.”

“Polis’s reshaped bill does not close any major mountain bike trails and establishes important new Companion Designations that protect riding opportunities,” said Van Abel. “Our remaining concerns include expanding the size of bike-friendly designations in Summit County, and in addressing the pending Forest Service Travel Management Plan in Spraddle and West Lake Creeks, near Vail. IMBA believes the Wilderness designation is not appropriate for Spraddle Creek, as it's so close to town. We will continue working on these issues as the bill progresses through Congress.”