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Wilderness Alert

February 13, 2002

WILDERNESS ALERT FROM IMBA

California Wilderness Bill Introduction Approaching

During the last few months, IMBA volunteers have been studying hundreds of California maps and guidebooks to provide the mountain bike perspective on U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's draft Wilderness legislation. Boxer's bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Congress in the next few weeks.

Our volunteers have been working with local Wilderness advocates to identify areas of proposed Wilderness that we can support while making sure that the state's popular trails remain open for future bicycling enjoyment. IMBA advocates have met with local cyclists, bike shops, Wilderness proponents and Boxer's staff to help shape a Wilderness bill designed to protect some of California's wildest areas.

Designated Wilderness provides optimum long-term protection for pristine public land. However, bicycling is not permitted in Wilderness areas.

Senator Boxer Understands Mountain Bicyclists

Senator Boxer's staff has been tremendously helpful and understands the importance of preserving bicycle access to the trails that are popular for riding. They have provided maps, traveled to meet with cyclists and adjusted Wilderness boundaries to assure continuing bicycle access.

The original Wilderness proposal included dozens of trails that have long been popular mountain bike rides. Many of these have since been removed from Wilderness consideration, including trails around Downieville, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride near South Lake Tahoe, Placer County trails, trails in the Los Padres National Forest north of Santa Barbara, and paths in the Angeles and Cleveland National Forests of Southern California.

Areas Still in Discussion

Our goal is to support the bill. This intention is based on the assumption that we will be able to identify and remove from the proposal the trails that are currently ridden regularly by mountain bikers. We want all of the areas included in the original proposal to be protected, but not all through Wilderness designation.

While many of IMBA's concerns have been addressed, we are still concerned about several areas where there are conflicts with bicycling. Trails near South Lake Tahoe, Grouse Ridge, Mammoth Mountain and Sequoia National Forest, among others, remain contentious. IMBA representatives are meeting with the senator's staff to reconcile our differences in these areas, hopefully before the bill is introduced.

Need Local Trail Knowledge

California is the third-largest U.S. state. The most difficult part of this process has been to identify where mountain bicyclists ride. Specifically, we need maps or guidebooks detailing mountain bike trail opportunities in these areas:

- Mariposa County
- Kern County - Bright Star southeast of Lake Isabella
- Mill Creek Trail east of Red Bluff
- Ishi (Antelope Creek) northeast of Chico
- Areas adjacent to Marble Mountains Wilderness and Siskiyou Wilderness
- Mount Eddy and Girard Ridge near Mt. Shasta
- Humboldt County - Mad River Buttes east of Eureka
- Mount Lassic southeast of Eureka in Trinity National Forest
- Mendocino County - Yuki area northeast of Fort Bragg, west of Chico

If you, or the people you ride with, have information regarding these trails, please contact Gary Sprung at gary@imba.com or call him at IMBA 1-888-442-4622. Wilderness Bill is Different than Forest Management Review Process

It is important to note that Boxer's Wilderness legislation is separate from the current forest management planning process under review in Southern California. Every national forest in the country must revise their forest plan uses every 15 years. A few dozen forests around the country are currently in the middle of this multi-year process.

Stay Tuned

Once introduced, the Boxer Wilderness bill has a long way to go before it becomes law. It is a lengthy process and we appreciate the interest and involvement of California mountain bicyclists. Most of all, we thank the IMBA state representatives and other volunteers invested in this complicated process. Their hard work will help leave a legacy for future cyclists all in an effort to preserve pristine areas and access to some of the greatest mountain biking in the country.

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