Published Jan 5, 2017
At first glance, an Op-Ed piece at PennLive published on January 3, 2017, written by Edward Zahniser, appeared to be bogus to my eye. Mr. Zahniser was concerned that the 1964 Wilderness Act -- that prohibits the use of "mechanical transport" -- might be circumvented by new legislation. Mountain bikes in Wilderness areas, now expressly forbidden, would be permissible.
In Edward Zahniser's words:
A new bill in the U.S. Congress, would radically alter this primary intent of the Wilderness Act by directing the U.S. Forest Service, which administers wilderness areas, to identify trails to be opened for mountain biking.
Local rangers would have just two years to identify trails that might be opened to bikes. That is an impossible task if the public is to be heard in the usual open process. If the deadline is not met, the trail will simply be opened to bikes.
The clear language of the 1964 Wilderness Act itself prohibits mountain bikes, as a form of "mechanical transport."
Senator Mike Lee of Utah introduced the bill he calls the "Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act" on July 13, 2016. You may read all it about it here.
Should mountain bikes be allowed on the Appalachian Trail? By definition, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail -- a part of the National Park Service -- is a "2,180+ mile long public footpath." A footpath. The AT is not a horse trail, a mountain bike trail or an avenue for any mechanic transport.
How many trails in other wilderness areas might be affected should this bill pass?
We urge you to read the proposed legislation. If you believe this act should not become law, please contact your legislators.
Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Conservation, Hiking Safety, Recreation, Information, mountain bikes on appalachian trail, 1964 wilderness act, and mountain bikes in wilderness areas
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