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Green Wheels: IMBA's Perspective on Shared Land and Shared Values

Mountain bicyclists are passionate about the outdoors. We believe in managing public lands as a public trust and a priceless national treasure. We cherish the places where we can still take epic forays into the backcountry. We love our trails and are the first to volunteer to build and repair them. We share a concern with other trail users that the pressures of growth and industry threaten the qualities that make our favorite rides special.

Mountain bikers want to see the forests and mountains where we ride protected in their natural state, with clean air and clean water, so we welcome opportunities to join with others to protect America's shared public lands to ensure current and future generations can enjoy high-quality outdoor experiences away from development, noise and pollution.

That's why Wilderness is such a difficult issue for us. Existing Wilderness protections near some of our favorite trails contribute to the peace, quiet and solitude that make them special. At the same time, Wilderness expansions and new Wilderness designations sometimes take away access to those same trails.

The good news is that land protection proposals can be crafted to include mountain biking, as they have been in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Georgia and Virginia. When mountain bike use is properly recognized, IMBA supports new Wilderness proposals. IMBA champions other land protection solutions - such as National Scenic Areas, Recreation Areas or Protections Areas - that both safeguard the land and preserve local mountain biking traditions. We believe that there are many tools in the toolbox to protect public lands.

As mountain bikers, it's in our interest to seek lasting alliances with the conservation community. We have far more in common than what sometimes divides us. We believe it's in our mutual best interest to work together. Conservation organizations can help to preserve and enhance mountain bike access to public lands. Mountain bikers can add a valuable new voice to campaigns to protect America's forests, water, wildlife and scenic landscapes.

We bring a lot to the table. Nationally, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) reports that mountain biking has 40 million participants and 7 million enthusiasts (2004). OIA estimates that cycling contributes $136 billion annually to our nation's economy. IMBA has inspired, trained and organized one of the most committed volunteer trail corps in this nation's history. We're proud that our members have embraced the ethic of trail stewardship so wholeheartedly and we will continue to promote riding that respects all trail users. We will continue to protect the water, wildlife, clean air and backcountry landscapes that are the foundation of America's matchless outdoor recreation heritage.