Today I grabbed my mountain bike and went for a ride on a favorite trail in Sedona, AZ. The scenery was unparalleled, the silence absolute and the solitude humbling.
If a proposed Forest Service trail closure goes into effect, what I did today, will be illegal and punishable and will make me a criminal for riding on a trail I have ridden on for years.
The irony is that this trail and many like it would remain open to all hikers, trail runners and equestrians. Only mountain biking would be banned.
This is not happening only in Arizona. Recent proposed or actual closures in Montana, California and Colorado point to a disturbing trend in Forest Service management policies indicating a discriminatory bias towards mountain biking, but that may encompass other user groups in the future. (Link: trail-access-for-southern-california-mountain-bikers-under-threat) (Montana Closure)
The most common reason put forth by the Forest Service regarding mountain biking restrictions involves environmental degradation. But the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has referenced numerous scientific studies that assert that mountain bikes create similar environmental impacts as hikers, and less impact than equestrians. (Link: Environmental Impacts of Mountain Biking: Science Review and Best Practices)
Further economic studies show that mountain bikers bring in millions of dollars to communities. The USFS should be working hard to encourage valuable ecotourism opportunities like mountain biking. A Forest Order that restricts mountain bikers and has a negative economic impact on local businesses and taxes is irresponsible and counterproductive. (Link: Jackson Hole Trails Project Economic Impact Study) (Link: Economic Benefits of Trail Tourism)
Public lands belong to all of us. It is time for the U.S. Forest Service to create a national policy that sets mountain bikers on equal footing with hikers and equestrians and provides us with equal trail access opportunities.
Please sign this petition and send the message to the U.S. Forest Service:
That it is time for a consistent and non-discriminatory federal policy that addresses mountain bike trail access.
Stop the proposed Forest Order Closure in Sedona, Arizona because DISCRIMINATION IS WRONG
Some people are wondering what the actual Forest Closure Order states. We have scoured the Coconino National Forest web site and for some reason...they have neglected to post the order there. Please contact , Heather Provencio, Chief Ranger at the Sedona Red Rock District, firstname.lastname@example.org and ask her where you can read the Forest Closure Order.
Inorder to clarify the Forest Closure Order until we actually get the FS version I have been asked to include the following comment:
The Temporary Forest Order would implement a cross-country travel closure to apply only to MTB use. Hikers and equestrians would be unaffected. Since use of unofficial trails and routes (not part of the FS officially recognized system of trails) is considered “cross-country travel,” all non-system trails would be off limits to mountain bikers. This represents roughly half the trail miles currently available to MTB use. Meanwhile, the unofficial trails will still exist and continue to be eroded by hikers and horses until such time as the FS decides what to do with them. In this light, it’s difficult to believe the RRRD has protection of resources in mind. It seems to be a discriminatory measure.
A “temporary” order can be implemented for one year, with an option to extend an additional year, with no need for a NEPA study. This means the District has up to two years to conduct a NEPA and make the closure permanent. As one experienced advocate at the meeting pointed out, this is what has historically happened in these situations. And, it is not logical that the FS would simply let the closure run out and allow MTB users to go back to the currently allowed use of unofficial routes.
Sedona is not alone. The same thing is happening in Moab. The next closure may be coming to a trail near you!