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January 2003 Wilderness Update

IMBA signs controversial "Joint Statement of Commitments" and
agrees to push mountain bikers to support Wilderness Areas

Is IMBA an "access organization" or a "wilderness organization"

On December 23, 2002 IMBA released a "Joint Statement of Commitments" with wilderness advocates heralding it as a "New Spirit of Cooperation." To read this agreement click here.

We have grave concerns over the direction IMBA has taken with this "Joint Statement of Commitments." The wilderness advocates have everything to gain - and we have everything to lose. Our concerns begin with the following statement:

"Since most mountain bike enthusiasts support protection of primitive federal lands through Wilderness and other designations, there is no reason not to work closely with Wilderness groups. This agreement signals the start of that cooperation," said Gary Sprung, senior national policy advisor for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)."

"The newly released Statement of Commitments emphasizes early, open, civil and continued dialogue on the Wilderness issue. Both groups hope that adherence to these principles will preserve both the integrity of the National Wilderness Preservation System and important trails for mountain bike enthusiasts."

I do not believe "most" mountain bike enthusiasts support the protection of primitive federal lands through the Wilderness Designation. If this were so, there would not be a "sometimes tumultuous relationship" as is stated in this "Joint Statement of Commitments" between mountain bikers and wilderness advocates.

As far as "other designations", where in this "Joint Statement of Commitments" is it stated that wilderness advocates would support the "other designations" that IMBA mentions in this "Joint Statement of Commitments" that would still allow recreational activities such as mountain biking?

Why is it only non-wilderness or wilderness that is being negotiated? Why haven't the wilderness advocates agreed to allow the disputed areas in the current wilderness bill to be removed and placed under these "other designations" IMBA always talks about, designations that would protect the land but still allow historical recreational access?

Did you notice how this was left out of the "Joint Statement of Commitments?"

Is it because the wilderness supporters won't accept "other designations," that for them it is wilderness or nothing at all? Is the reason for this reluctance to support "other designations" because in a future wilderness bill they hope to include these agreed upon "non-wilderness" areas and "other designations" would make this more difficult?

Now note that the total Forest Service Inventoried Roadless Areas for California is 4.416 million acres and they were originally going for 7.4 million acres of designated wilderness in this bill.

So the California Wilderness Coalition apparently thinks lands that don't even meet the criteria for Forest Service Roadless Areas should be designated as Wilderness. While the amount of acres in the current wilderness bill is about a third of the original 7.4 million acres, as in the past, they will be back with future wilderness bills to attempt to get the remainder.

Even if they had gotten the original 7.4 million acres, you can only imagine how much more land will suddenly achieved "wilderness character" in the future to allow for more wilderness beyond the 7.4 million acres they originally demanded.

We were told in past IMBA announcements and correspondence that IMBA was working in cooperation with the wilderness advocates and Senator Boxer. What makes this agreement different from the past conditions IMBA and the wilderness advocates operated under? Here is the wording of the "Joint Statement of Commitments":

"We commit to early collaboration leading to joint Wilderness/protection proposals where possible. Where not possible, we commit to good faith negotiations and willingness to compromise where feasible."

"We commit to supporting and enhancing local communication, cooperation and boundary decision-making by showcasing success stories and providing strategic partnership advice."

What about the following statement?

"Wilderness and mountain biking enthusiasts will use their communication tools to share information about each other's views - e.g., we will encourage publication of pro-Wilderness perspectives in mountain biking media and pro-mountain biking perspectives in conservation media. Highlight success stories whenever possible."

So are we to ignore the "Mountain Biker's For Wilderness" fraud? Should Mike Ferrantino in Bike Magazine and Richard Cunningham in MTB Action not describe the treatment of IMBA and mountain bikers by the pro-wilderness folks as:

"I never really expected 'victory' to feel this much like getting bent over and reamed, but hey, you learn something new every day..."


"The resilience title goes to IMBA which was slapped in the face by California Senator Barbara Boxer's people."

Jim Hasenauer, an IMBA leader and founding board member, also admitted at the regional Southern California IMBA Club meeting last spring that the Sierra Club has not lived up to the Park City Agreement on mountain biking.

This "Joint Statement of Commitments" also stated:

"We commit to clarify when unauthorized individuals misrepresent our organizations."

Can IMBA give an example of someone who has done this? Is he referring to our accusations regarding the "Mountain Biker's For Wilderness".

which we have documented as a fraud? Is the true meaning of this to mean they will do damage control when either one of them is legitimately criticized for their pro-wilderness actions?

This also is very telling:

"Create a password protected website for sharing information (e.g. Wilderness Act history, political overviews, mountain biking priorities, contacts, perspectives)."

A private controlled website for IMBA and wilderness advocates to discuss the wilderness bill. Now they can work in secret to get this wilderness bill passed. Why don't they have a private website with other recreation activists to push for "other designations" and to form a powerful political block that would force the wilderness advocates to accept "other designations"?

What about these statements from the "Joint Statement of Commitments"?

"Wilderness and mountain biking enthusiasts will use their communication tools to share information about each other's views - e.g., we will encourage publication of pro-Wilderness perspectives in mountain biking media and pro-mountain biking perspectives in conservation media. Highlight success stories whenever possible."

"We commit to encouraging mountain biker participation in Wilderness events and Wilderness leader participation in mountain biking events."

So IMBA agrees to help promote (and encourage the mountain bike media to promote) a designation that is detrimental to its members? Why not promote the "other designations" instead?

Regarding the second statement, what do the wilderness advocates have to lose by their "participation in mountain bike events"? We stand to lose riding areas by participating in pro-wilderness events and promoting wilderness areas. What the heck is IMBA thinking?

IMBA's association with Patagonia, even after one of their chief spokemen supported the actions of the "Mountain Biker's For Wilderness," also puzzles me. The spokesman, John Sterling, Director of Environmental Programs at Patagonia, in the words of Tom Stienstra "dissappeared" when he asked for a statement for his followup story on the "Mountain Biker's For Wilderness" that exposed the truth about this organization.

How deep is Patagonia's support of Wilderness and the Wildlands Projects Nationwide?:

What about other political organizations they support using the dollars you provide by buying their products:

Take a look at just one organization they support that is listed on the previous page:

Can Patagonia be trusted to protect mountain bike access?

This "Joint Statement of Commitments" IMBA signed with the wilderness advocates, is in spite of the way they have treated IMBA, is a grave political and strategic mistake. There is nothing in their history to validate this trust. This "treaty," like all others in the past - was made to be broken.

The leadership of IMBA is apparently enamored with the agenda of the environmental movement, an agenda that poses a great threat to our ability to access the forests for recreation. This strategy comes at the expense of the mountain bike community, and will prove to be a foolish and costly mistake.

History has shown that the wilderness advocates cannot be trusted. Do we accept them at their word or will this agreement be violated like all the rest. What do you honestly think?

Those who forget the lessons of history will only repeat the worst of its mistakes. IMBA is proof of this.

By accepting this agreement, IMBA is like a wife who has been cheated on and abused by her husband - but keeps coming back for beatings because "he will change."

But IMBA should heed the warning of Machiavelli when siding with the wilderness advocates - instead of with other recreationists:

"...it ought to be noted that a prince (or entity) should avoid joining forces with someone more powerful than Himself for the purpose of attacking another unless necessity compels him to do so, as I explained above; for by winning he then becomes a prisoner of his ally. As far as possible a prince should avoid being left in the mercy of someone else."

Does Machiavelli's warning ring true? How has IMBA been treated for their "support" of new wilderness areas? You know the answer to that.

What philosophy governs the wilderness advocates and supporters of the Wildlands Project?

The following is taken from "THE ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ROADS" by Reed F. Noss (He is currently working in California for the state as a consultant developing "linkages" for wildlife corridors. The attempt to designate the Santa Ana Mountains here in Southern California as a wilderness area is part of this program and the Wildlands Project.)

"The more inaccessible we can keep our remaining wild areas to these cretins, the safer and healthier these areas will be. Those humans who respect the land are willing to walk long distances. If this is an "elitist" attitude, so be it; the health of the land demands restrictions on human access and behavior."

Here is another quote taken from THE FOREST COMMONS By Al Fritsch, Mary Davis, Paul Kalisz, Wendell Berry, Susan Duggan, Eric Freyfrogle:

"The Commons is more than a concept; it is also a reality that has flesh. It may be great territories or parcels of land and tracts of forests, all of which can be measured and designated. We may use this land in a just manner or alienate it and privatize the land for special purposes. Furthermore, individuals who have some degree of access to the common lands may damage them. Thus abuse of the commons can occur and has occurred down through the ages; this leads to questions of proper management of privately owned land that is actually part of a global environmental commons.

As our Minnesota representative Candace Outhout so eloquently stated:

"What happens to so many of us who enjoy natural open space experiences is that we do emulate the concepts upon which the Sierra Club and others were founded. What we miss is that these organizations were founded by individuals who are less about preserving and conserving the land and more about setting civilization back several thousand years. They are not saving the earth for future generations. They are trying to eliminate future generations to save the earth. There are those that believe they can infuse moderation into the environmental movement. They have not yet realized the depth of the agenda that they are attempting to oppose from within. Unfortunately the basic concepts taught in any environmental program on any campus for the last thirty or so years has been that man is the enemy and must be subdued and controlled at all costs. It is impossible to meet these folks on common ground because no common ground exists. What the members of IMBA or many other user group organizations miss is it is not about recreation or grazing or logging or mineral rights. It is about personal freedoms, private property rights and the rights of taxpayers to govern the use of public lands."

The current leadership of IMBA's loyalties apparently lie with the green movement. Mountain biking is secondary. How else can you explain their behavior? How else can you explain their embrace of appeasement as a strategic policy, a policy that only empowers its opponents and will result in defeat?

IMBA sounds like Prime Minister Chamberlain of Britain when he returned from negotiations with Hitler which allowed him to occupy the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

"Peace in our time" Chamberlain stated on his return. But this did not stop the winds of war, but instead resulted in the destruction of Europe.

At the recent IMBA Board meeting on January 17th, two board members resigned out of dissatisfaction with the direction IMBA has taken on advocacy and with the way the executive director manipulates the board. It is our hope that the IMBA board some day realizes that mountain bicyclists need an organization that fights to protect responsible mountain bike access, and not an organization that promotes the wilderness designation - there is a 3.1 billion dollar environmental industry that is having no problem doing that.

Will our future Wilderness Update state:

"Defeat the Boxer/IMBA/Wilderness Coalition California Wilderness Bill"

For the sake of mountain biking I hope not.

Information resources:

All wilderness proposals are part of the Wildlands Project which was initiated by Reed Noss and Dave Forman, the founder of Earth first.

The California Wilderness Campaign touts its support of the Wildlands Project on its web site.

The following site provides information on the Wildlands Project using the words of the founders of the movement, including Dave Forman, one of the founders of Earth First!

Wilderness bills, as well as the movement to remove dams and reservoirs, are just a fraction of the agenda to bring the Wildlands Project to fruition. Earth First! describes this campaign on their web site.

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