Legislation to add bikes to federal wilderness threatens to crack conservation coalition (Blue Ridge Outdoors)

A bill to allow mountain bikes in federal wilderness areas appears stalled in the House, & would seem to be DOA in the Senate anyway. Still, this story is important for what it signifies in the conservation coalition.

At 1st blush, this may seem simple. The Wilderness Act is a bedrock environmental law in the US, & preserving wilderness is important. & yet, I had not thought about how wilderness is regularly added by Congress, & what that means for areas once home to well-used bike trails.

I break that dynamic down a bit in this story through the example of Dolly Sods in WV. Expansion of that wilderness a few years ago was trumpeted as a major victory, but it also involved a breakdown between mountain bikers & wilderness advocates.

Politics & personalities ultimately contributed to the final outcome, & there is still bad blood today over how it went down. That’s the real danger of HR 1349—that it may splinter the coalition between recreationalists & wilderness groups.

My story in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine digs into that dynamic, with voices from across the spectrum. Check it out in April’s issue or read it online here.