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Mountain Biker's For Wilderness - The Truth Revealed!

Tom Stienstra just published a clarification for a story he wrote in his San Francisco Chronicle column. The story was titled "Mountain biking group wins a coup."

Based on the information Tom received from the "Mountain Bikers For Wilderness" organization, the story he wrote appeared to imply that mountain bikers as a whole were supporting the Wilderness Bill:

Who are the mountain bikers for wilderness? An organization of 125 "mountain bikers" as described in the Washington Post story "Mountain Bikers Up Against Calif. Conservationists:"

"...Some mountain bikers say they are prepared to make the sacrifice. A group of about 125 riders from across the state has organized to support the new wilderness protections. "This is worth preserving, even if it means we lose trails," said Don Massie, a software company employee who is leading the rebel group.

Other mountain bikers are calling them political puppets and say Boxer's plan plainly persecutes their pastime. They say she and conservationists could have proposed other protections for wilderness, but chose the only one that bans bikes."

To read the whole story see the Washington Post link that follows Tom's clarification (you may have to scroll down to read the text).

We thank Tom for his immediate concern over this. Tom in no way intended to misrepresent anyone; he thought this group had a much wider base of support.

Thanks Tom

Clarification on California Wild Heritage Act

Thursday, October 3, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Tom Stienstra

The largest mountain biking groups in Southern California have accused Sen. Barbara Boxer of "fraud" for claiming on her web site that mountain bike groups support the California Wild Heritage Act.

Others, including officials in Boxer's office, say this is a major over-reaction because of differing points of view.

"It's the implied contention on her web site that all mountain bikers support her bill," said Chris Vargas of The Warriors Society, a multi-chapter biking organization based in Orange County. "That's the fraud. It simply serves her agenda to manipulate public opinion."
Boxer and her staff adamantly denied the allegation, and said the reality is that several mountain bike organizations disagree with each other over future wilderness designations. They also said they have worked with mountain bike groups over the course of the evolution of S. 2535, The Wild Heritage Act, that proposes to add wilderness in large areas of national forest in California (see story in today's Chronicle Sporting Green by Paul McHugh). No form of mechanization, including mountain bikes, is allowed in federal-designated wilderness areas.

On a leg of the senator's web site is the heading, "Mountain Bikers Announce Support For California Wild Heritage Act," with the adjoining logo for Mountain Bikers 4 Wilderness (MB4W).

The Warriors and several other biking groups contend a deal was made between Sen. Boxer and Don Massie, leader of the Chico Paddleheads, a whitewater group, to work a political scheme. In this alleged deal, Vargas claims that Massie created MB4W as a front for Boxer. The intent, Vargas believes, was to make it appear as if Boxer had won support from a group previously reported to be against her, mountain bikers. In return, whitewater paddlers would get consideration in the future for more rivers to be designated as Wild & Scenic.

That is why the Warriors have posted a response on their website titled, "Senator Boxer resorts to fraud!"

This theory is endorsed by several large mountain bike organizations in Southern California.

"They (MB4W) were drummed up by Boxer," said Dave Moore of the Southern Sierra Fat Tire Association.

Boxer staffers reacted with disbelief and amazement over the charges.

"We don't do conspiracies," responded Tom Bohigian, deputy state director for Sen. Boxer.

"We did not engineer the creation of this group or any other group," Bohigian said. "This thing (the bill) has taken a long time to get to legislative form. We've spent countless hours talking to stakeholders. We've had a lot of meetings where we sit down with mountain bikers, environmental interests and the Forest Service, and work things out over specific areas. We're trying to strike a balance, and we've been able to resolve conflicts for mountain bikers in a lot of cases.

"Mountain bikers, like any other group, have a wide range of opinions," he said. "These people get spooled up. They think we're trying to erase them."

This past summer, it was reported in an SF Gate outdoors notes column by this writer that MB4W supported the Wild Heritage Act after Boxer removed 300,000 acres in her proposal where mountain bikes would have been ruled off limits.

At the same time, John Sterling of Patagonia, one of the world's largest manufacturers of outdoor clothing, including products for mountain biking, also announced support for the bill. He originally said: "As a company that both makes mountain biking products and employs avid mountain bikers, we fully support S 2535 (Boxer's proposal) -- it's a balanced and fair proposal."

A week after the initial story appeared on the internet in mid-August, Sterling left Patagonia, confirmed Lou Setnicha of Patagonia. This led Vargas of The Warriors to claim that Sterling was involved in what he considers to be a scheme.

Massie of MB4W denied any scheme. He said he simply disagrees with Vargas over the level of wilderness protection in Northern California.

"What we do is totally about mountain biking," Massie said. "We're a riding group in Chico, and we ride weekly. We were seeing (stories) that all mountain bikers oppose wilderness. That's not true.

"We believe it's worth protecting a few areas (as wilderness) even if we can't ride there," Massie said. "So we decided to get a letter together to see if more mountain bikers would join us."

Massie said it is true that he is also an avid whitewater paddler, a leader of the Chico Paddleheads, and that he had proposed a whitewater park on the Feather River when the Oroville Dam was subject to relicensing. He says that is why the Southern California groups have accused him of making a deal with Boxer.

"They are not accurate," Massie said. "We're just a group of mountain bikers in Chico. We did what we thought was the right thing to do."

The chief players in this story, Massie of MB4W and Vargas of The Warriors Society, have never talked to each other.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]


» This article online
» Read the original story "Mountain biking group wins a coup" which this story corrects
» Read our expose of this fraud
» Read the Washington Post story mentioned in the opening paragraph


What actions should you take?


In November vote for candidates that support rational management policies


Oppose the Wilderness bill


Vote Senator Boxer out of office in two years


Boycott Patagonia and let them know your feelings regarding their participation in the "Mountain Biker's For Wilderness" fraud


Senator Feinstein has not yet endorsed the bill and is concerned about not only our access but also the economic effects this bill would have. The first action you can take is to contact U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Senator Feinstein's support is crucial to the advancement of Senator Boxer's bill. Senator Feinstein is carefully examining the proposal and is listening to her constituency. The time to influence her is now!

Due to security concerns, mailed letters are not the best way to convey your concerns. It takes as much as a month between mailing and the opening of a letter by congressional staff. Please send a fax or place a telephone call, then follow with a mailed letter.

PLEASE FAX YOUR LETTERS with the subject line: Oppose Wilderness Bill

Honorable Senator Feinstein
One Post St., #2450
San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (619) 231-1108
Fax: (310) 914-7318
Fax: (415) 989-3242
Fax: (202) 228-3954
Fax: (559) 485-9689

Fax a copy of your message to Senator Boxer.

Honorable Senator Boxer
1700 Montgomery St., #240
San Francisco, CA 94111

Phone: (415) 403-0100
Fax: (213) 894-5012
Fax: (909) 888-8613
Fax: (619) 239-5719
Fax: (559) 497-5111
Fax: (415) 956-6701
Fax: (916) 448-2563

If You Can Do More...

WRITE A HOUSE SPONSOR OF THE BILL -- U.S. Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) will introduce companion bills in the House for northern California and U.S. Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA) will do the same for southern California. They, too, are examining the details of Senator Boxer's proposal. Fax your letter to:

Honorable Mike Thompson
119 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0501

Fax: (202) 225-4335
Phone: (202) 225-3311

Honorable Hilda Solis
1641 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0531

Fax: (202) 225-5467
Phone: (202) 225-5464

WRITE YOUR CONGRESSPERSON -- Find the name and address of your member of Congress. Ask your member to speak to Representatives Thompson and Solis about bicycling and the Wilderness bill.

WRITE YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER -- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Learn the address of your local paper.

Messages to television and radio stations, web news sources and discussion groups are also appropriate. Letters to media should be short -- around 200 words. Reasoned discussion is always preferable to inflamed rhetoric. The goal is to persuade others, not to yell.


* State your concern that some of California's best trails will be closed to bikes through Wilderness designations. If you have specific knowledge of areas in Senator Boxer's proposal that overlap great riding, provide that information.

* Mountain bikers support conservation and would support alternative designations such as the Backcountry Designation http://www.sharetrails.org/backcountry.htm

* California is the birthplace of mountain biking and home to 2.5 million off-road cycling enthusiasts. We are an important constituency that generates millions of tourism dollars for the state of California. Bicycling adds more than $2 billion annually to the state's economy.

* Citizens need detailed maps of all proposed Wilderness areas to carefully examine this geographically based proposal.


To pass, this bill must go through a committee process in the Senate, then a vote of the full Senate. The bill must go through a similar process in the House of Representatives. Once both bills make it through their respective chambers, they must then go to a conference committee to iron out the differences. If the bill doesn't, pass by November, the entire process must start again next year.

The wilderness bill is part of a bigger plan called the Wildlands Project, which seeks to put 50 percent of the United States under the same restrictions or more severe restriction than the Wilderness Act. We will have more information on the Wildlands project in the second part of our two part commentary "Do The Mainstream Environmental Organizations Deserve Your Blind Support?" We also have other examples of the corruption used to fool the public into adopting the more extreme policies of the environmental movement.

There are many other actions attempted to be taken that will affect our access and support the Wildlands Project. AB1130 - The Sierra Nevada Conservancy Bill also being pushed by Senator Shelia Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) will also have an effect if it is enacted. This is part of the California Legacy campaign, also part of the Wildlands Project, being supported by the Wilderness supporters and their allies in State Government. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy will result in more closures for mountain bikers.

While held up last week from moving out of the Senate Resource & Wildlife Committee, it has been shoved into AB997, a bill dealing with stream bed alteration also authored by Dickerson.


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