NF to Close 400 Miles of Trail

A proposed Montana forest plan revision could set a dangerous national precedent by closing hundreds of miles of singletrack to bicycles. Montana’s Bitterroot, Flathead and Lolo National Forests are recommending a new policy that will ban bicycles from trails in many roadless areas where access is currently allowed.

More than 400 miles of trail in seven roadless areas near Missoula are at risk, including many epic routes cherished by local cyclists. Some of the best trails include Heart Lake, Monture Creek, Bluejoint Creek and Blodgett Canyon. The Great Burn area alone contains 139 miles of singletrack that will be made off-limits to bicycles.

Unless cyclists take action, the Forest Service will zone these lands as “Recommended Wilderness,” and will ban bicycles. Although most national forests around the country allow existing uses such as mountain biking to continue in Recommended Wilderness, the Bitterroot, Flathead and Lolo will not, thus setting a dangerous precedent.

Take Action!

Tell the Forest Service that you support continued access to the great trails in Recommended Wilderness in the Bitterroot, Flathead and Lolo National Forests.

If you prefer to mail your comments, the following address covers all three forests:
Proposed Land Management Plan Bitterroot National Forest 1801 North 1st St. Hamilton, MT 59840

Deadline

The Forest Service will accept comments until August 7, 2006.

Talking Points

  • Mountain bikers support the permanent conservation of Montana’s roadless areas from development and road building. However, if Recommended Wilderness will ban bicycles from the places we love to ride, please use the Forest Service’s “2.2 Backcountry Area” prescription to protect natural resources and allow continued bicycle use.
  • The “2.2 Backcountry Area” prescription should be used to protect the following proposed Recommended Wilderness areas: Great Burn (Lolo), Monture Creek (Lolo), Quigg (Lolo) and Stony Mountain (Bitterroot and Lolo). In the Blodgett Canyon (Bitterroot) and Blue Joint (Bitterroot) areas it should at least be used to create corridors containing trails #19, 137, 303, 614 and 627 – favorite mountain bike routes.
  • National Forests in Regions 2, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10 allow bikes in Recommended Wilderness. In neighboring Idaho and Wyoming, this includes at least the Bighorn, Boise, Caribou, Medicine Bow, Payette, Sawtooth and Targhee National Forests.
  • All forms of recreation should be managed objectively through science-based decisions. Mountain biking is a quiet, human-powered, low-impact activity compatible with wild places. Science shows that bicycles have similar impacts as hiking and far less than equestrian or motorized use.
  • The Forest Service doesn’t have to kick mountain bikes out of places they’ve been riding for years. Bicycles do not harm the land’s potential for future Wilderness consideration and their continued use of Recommended Wilderness areas should be allowed.

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