not this again

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Wandering Daisy
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Re: not this again

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Dec 20, 2020 8:50 pm

Mostly good points Harlen. Mountain bikes in wilderness is just one issue in a bigger picture of who/what the wilderness is for. In a way, the mountain biker is not that different from the PCT thru hikers or trail runners who are also not there necessarily for the wilderness experience but rather to make miles to reach a different goal. And what of climbers? My objective was to climb a peak, not look at flowers. I enjoyed the wilderness but not in the same way as I do when backpacking. And fishermen? Is their wilderness experience less because they are there mostly to catch fish?

The distinction, to me, who/what actually NEEDS the wilderness. The mountain biker, thru hiker and trail runner can also meet their goals in non-wilderness. As can some of climbers, but if your destination peak is within wilderness, there you go. If you are in the wilderness to immerse yourself in pure land with no sign of man, you cannot really do that in non-wilderness. And if you are an animal that depends on wilderness (where people would disrupt vital life processes) then you need wilderness. However more animals in the Sierra are often found on edges of wilderness. And regardless of the "user" at some point the sheer amount of use turns the wilderness effectively into non-wilderness. That is why I think if mountain bikes are allowed in, they also have to have some restrictions on how far they can go in, and even day-riders be under quotas, which really means that there will be fewer permits for backpackers. I certainly have a conflict of feelings on that! But I do not want to see mountain bikers in Ionian Basin! And mountain bikes on the PCT/JMT would be a disaster.

On one extreme are those who believe that wilderness should be banned to all human use and that we should be satisfied just knowing that there "is" wilderness. And then there is the other extreme of "freedom" says I can do anything I want. I am all for access and use, but within the LNT philosophy and with a reasonable quota system. Similar to politics, the very vocal but small minorities on both extremes could, if they had their way, either destroy the wilderness or not allow us to ever see it again. I am not sure the general public realizes how valuable and unique our wilderness areas are- few other countries have such public lands that are both preserved and used by a wide range of people. And the old saying holds; "you do not know what you have until you loose it."

And mountain bikes aside, what about all the other new technology that is subtly changing the wilderness experience? Where should the line be drawn on that? I think the mountain bike issue is just the tip of the iceberg.








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Harlen
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Re: not this again

Post by Harlen » Sun Dec 20, 2020 11:51 pm

WD writes:
Mountain bikes in wilderness is just one issue in a bigger picture of who/what the wilderness is for... And mountain bikes aside, what about all the other new technology that is subtly changing the wilderness experience? Where should the line be drawn on that? I think the mountain bike issue is just the tip of the iceberg.
and:
The distinction, to me, who/what actually NEEDS the wilderness.
And if you are an animal that depends on wilderness (where people would disrupt vital life processes) then you need wilderness.
Those points frame the deeper philosophic question: What is wilderness, and how should we treat it? A point was made in one of the journals I read today that is familiar, but may help us to set our compass straight:
It is important to note that recreation is not the same as conservation. In any dispute about whether to increase recreational use/access or place limits on recreation, protection of wildlife and wildlands should always receive top priority.
That last sentence is not a given. Many people believe that nature has no intrinsic value, but only as a resource basket, or playground for humans.
All Wilderness Acts, Park Mission Statements, etc. contain language upholding the two ideals of Wilderness Preservation on the one hand, and human use and Recreation on the other. The last sentence in the above quote is the hopeful dream of an environmentalist. If any of us study honestly the history of humanity's overall effect on nature, ie., the Earth's biosphere, it is a dismal record of abuse; at least no ecologist can see it any other way. Where we haven't developed nature to death, we are beginning to "love it to death" by excessive demands for access and recreation opportunities. So the next reference below, which I also found today, reminding us of the need to restrain ourselves, should guide our future land-use decisions- shouldn't it?
One of the philosophical values of wilderness is the idea of restraint. When we designate a wilderness area, we as a society are asserting that nature and natural processes have priority, and we accept limits on ourselves. It is a lesson that is increasingly important for all to learn in an age of climate change, population growth, biodiversity loss, and other major environmental issues.
In a world filled with such vexing and overwhelming issues, worrying about bicycles on trails can seem trivial and inconsequential. But it’s important to note that bicycles and other mechanical conveyances, and the lack of commitment to personal restraint that it can foster is indicative of the broader challenges facing society. Namely, how do we live on this planet without destroying it? Self-control and restraint will be critical to our future.
What do you think? Wise and cautionary words? A final Wandering Daisy quote provides a welcome positive message amid my gloom. We really should be proud of our home-grown American Wilderness ethics; they are pretty unique in the world, and worth fighting for:
I am not sure the general public realizes how valuable and unique our wilderness areas are- few other countries have such public lands that are both preserved and used by a wide range of people. And the old saying holds; "you do not know what you have until you loose it."
Thanks TahoeJeff for this thought-provoking post, and HST for the platform to air our views. I am learning a lot from this community. Harlen

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Re: not this again

Post by Shawn » Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:37 pm

This issue reminds me a bit of private property rights. On the central coast of California there have been many long and costly fights over the use of private property as a thoroughfare to access coastal areas. Property owners pay a fortune for the property, pay annual taxes, install fences and signs, and still people will invade their property to access the coast because somehow it is their "right" to do so. Perversely, the intruders have prevailed in most court battles and the private property owner must pay for and provide for public access across their land.

This brings me to the definition of entitlement:
the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Isn't a Wilderness Area supposed to be where impacts from human activities are minimal? Do we really want to erode wilderness areas for future generations? The bill defaults to allowing Wilderness Areas to allow bikes if "local authorities" do not determine otherwise in two years. The bill is rigged by the attorney who happens to be the bills author. Wouldn't it be better to provide two years for the "local authorities" to determine which areas could be removed from the Wilderness Area designation and therefore allow bicycles?

There is no remedy stated for other non-motorized wheeled devices, such as wheel chairs, baby strollers, skate-board looking things with huge wheels and so on (often seen kicked off busy trailheads like Bubbs Creek in KCNP). What about trail head quotas, increased demand on emergency response, and as others have mentioned - impact on the environment and wildlife?

I believe the larger issue is how the feds classify Wilderness Areas, but we certainly should not have a bill which has a default condition which opens up everything to bicycles. Because no matter how hard we may try to protect the wilderness, there will be people that feel entitled to violate any boundary and there will be no turning back.

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Re: not this again

Post by rayfound » Mon Dec 21, 2020 1:40 pm

Harlen wrote:
Sun Dec 20, 2020 6:49 pm
in my opinion, even the majority of mountain bikers are more in it for either the fun exercise, or adventure, rather than to appreciate and commune with nature. I am that guy too when I mountain bike.
Agree. Recently took up mountain biking and will happily admit that getting out in the wilderness is sometimes part of it, but it is MOSTLY the other stuff.

I do think the outdoors community needs to find ways to be more inclusive rather than balkanized in the approach to land/resource usage. On the other hand, the mountain biking community isn't as conservation-oriented as other outdoors pursuits... but one has to wonder if that is, in part at least, because of their exclusion from trail networks, wilderness areas, etc...

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Re: not this again

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Dec 21, 2020 3:10 pm

rayfound wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 1:40 pm
but one has to wonder if that is, in part at least, because of their exclusion from trail networks, wilderness areas, etc...
Yeah, the climbing community does a decent job of distinguishing between the two. Areas in wilderness *generally* are trad climbing areas with a minimum of fixed hardware, chalk left behind. Then sport climbing spots in more "trodden" areas have bolts & chalk marks everywhere. I could see mountain bikers on average following the same sort of ethic: building ramps in national forest areas where there are already logging roads and other impacts, but keeping wilderness areas more pristine by banning passage when wet or using quotas. Hell, limiting bikers to low elevation trailheads would do a lot, since no one wants to bike uphill :P

But getting rid of the bike ban for every wilderness area is an obviously bad idea.
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Re: not this again

Post by Lumbergh21 » Mon Dec 21, 2020 6:23 pm

c9h13no3 wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 3:10 pm
rayfound wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2020 1:40 pm
but one has to wonder if that is, in part at least, because of their exclusion from trail networks, wilderness areas, etc...
Yeah, the climbing community does a decent job of distinguishing between the two. Areas in wilderness *generally* are trad climbing areas with a minimum of fixed hardware, chalk left behind. Then sport climbing spots in more "trodden" areas have bolts & chalk marks everywhere. I could see mountain bikers on average following the same sort of ethic: building ramps in national forest areas where there are already logging roads and other impacts, but keeping wilderness areas more pristine by banning passage when wet or using quotas. Hell, limiting bikers to low elevation trailheads would do a lot, since no one wants to bike uphill :P

But getting rid of the bike ban for every wilderness area is an obviously bad idea.
I think a big problem is the transformation of NF into Wilderness either through reclassification or through mandates by the person tasked with managing the NF (or other national and state lands). There's a National Recreation Area near where I live that was overseen by someone who seemed to want to turn it into wilderness, e.g. closing some trails to all people, only hand tools for trail maintenance (on the rare occasion any was done), etc. When the bikers start losing places to ride, they find a way to keep riding. Sometimes that is by ignoring new designations and restrictions figuring nobody will stop them, sometimes through legal means, like this bill. I think both solutions make things worse off than what an even handed approach that values all land users would have.

As an aside, I am happy to see the constructive discussion on this thread. I remember a similar thread years ago where at least one person was advocating bodily harm to cyclists.

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