10/20/09 Warrior’s Society Weekly News

In this issue:

1. Commentary – Is Mountain Biking Access Going Backwards?

2. The County will be citing those accessing the Rose Canyon Trail

3. Vision Quest and Counting Coup transfer policy

4. Monument Status being proposed for the Santa Ana Mountains

1. COMMENTARY – IS MOUNTAIN BIKING ACCESS GOING BACKWARDS?

This commentary is written by Mark Flint, a member of the Warrior’s Society and our Arizona State Representative.

Mark Flint has been a mountain biking and trails advocate since the early 1990s.

His trail design experience includes trail systems in Oregon and Vermont as well as more than 100 miles in Arizona, including 35 miles of the Arizona Trail (a National Scenic Trail) in Southern Arizona.

In addition to his design work on the Arizona Trail construction project, he has served as project coordinator, event organizer, volunteer coordinator and steering committee co-chair.

For the past three years he has been doing trail design and construction supervision for the Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.

Mark participated on the team that developed the Bureau of Land Management National Mountain Bicycling Strategic Action Plan, an advisory document for planners in the United States Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management.

His awards include being named a FOX/IMBA Hero in 2006 for work on the Arizona Trail and with Saguaro National Park. He was given a Life Member Award by the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists in 2005, and the Pima Trails Association “Friend of the Trail” award in 2003. In
1996 he was named an International Mountain Bicycling “Shimano Action Hero” for trail advocacy, and received the Oregon State Parks Doug Newman Memorial Recreation Trail Award in 1995.

His contact information is:

Mark Flint
Southwest Trail Solutions
http://www.swtrailsolutions.com
Cell: 520-400-2050

COMMENTARY: IS MOUNTAIN BIKE ACCESS GOING BACKWARDS?

I tend to get testy with mountain bikers who act entitled, who think they should be allowed to ride wherever they want, make wildcat trails, build structures without permission and ride trails closed to mountain bicycling. There’s a reason for this, and if recent trends are any indication, we need more people to climb up anybody’s six who thinks that kind of thing is OK.

I came into mountain biking about 25 years ago, when we were few in number and had to prove ourselves constantly. The term “sweat equity” meant a lot more then. Without the hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours mountain bike advocates put in building and maintaining trails, raising funds and schmoozing with decision-makers around the country the riding opportunities we enjoy never would have come into being. It’s as simple as that.

We thought that as mountain biking became more popular it would gain more political clout, land managers would become more mountain bike friendly and we’d be over the hump. We may have made it over the hump, but we speeding smack-dab into a wall.

Two factors, one of which nobody I know saw coming, have come around to bite us.

The one that many of us did see coming is the failure of mountain bikers to understand that environmentalists are not necessarily our friends. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support environmental causes or be concerned about the threats to our planet. I happen to think we should. But as mountain bike advocates we need to have the political savvy to know who are our friends are, and who are our enemies. That is, or should be, Advocacy 101.

Wilderness advocates are not necessarily our friends. Organizations like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society are not friends of mountain biking. They see wilderness as a solution, when in fact it’s often overkill — not necessary and in some cases does more harm to resources than good. They’d rather sledge-hammer us with wilderness than work out solutions that allow mountain biking and other activities that have minimal impact.

IMBA, the one national organization that represents mountain bikers, never got this; many in IMBA’s leadership felt (and still feel) that we should align ourselves with environmental groups, the very ones who work to deny us access to public lands. I never got that, and was among those whoe tried to get IMBA leadership to see this for years. They wouldn’t listen. We weren’t saying go to war with the Sierra club, but we did think that cozying up to environmentalists would make it a lot harder to advocate for access. And so it has.

While I applaud much of IMBA’s work, this tactical error could prove a serious flaw in terms of costing us access to vast tracts of public lands. IMBA’s failure to provide a forceful argument against wilderness restrictions, out of fear of offending their “friends” in the environmental community, has cost mountain bikers critical ground in mountain bike access.

The second factor is the popularity of mountain biking itself, combined with technological advances to bikes.

As mountain biking became more popular, it took over many trail systems, crowding out other users, especially equestrians who are uncomfortable with mountain bikes on the trail.

As more people came into the sport, trails became populated with more mountain bikers who had no clue as to what it took to gain trail access, and with selfish and rude riders who don’t care about their effect on anybody else on the trail.

Even before rear suspension, disk brakes and ever lighter materials mountain bikers were considered the “cougars” of the nonmotorized trail users, covering far more ground than equestrians and hikers. Today’s bikes can cruise trails once thought impassable to anyone but hikers and equestrians.

Now, with so many mountain bikers on so many trails, and with an unfortunately high number of selfish and irresponsible riders, mountain biking has created a backlash, and the two factors are coming together to create a perfect storm of anti-mountain bike attitudes among land managers and the general public.

IMBA sent out an alert today that exemplifies this problem, an article in the New York Times:

New York Times Says Mountain Bikers Risk Losing Access to Thousands of Trail Miles

“Thousands of miles of alpine singletrack could be closed to bikers by 2013,” according to story published Oct. 10 in the print and online editions of the New York Times. Titled “Growth in Mountain Biking May Put Western Trails Off Limits,” the piece explores the implications of an evolving U.S. Forest Service Region 5 policy to ban bikes from places that might someday be adopted for Wilderness management. You can read it online at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/sports/11bikes.html?_r=1

Combine this with recent losses of access in Idaho, Oregon and California, to name just a few, and the writing on the wall is pretty clear: if we don’t clean up our act AND become more politically astute and strategic, we can look forward to fewer trails open to bikes.

–mark

2. THE COUNTY WILL BE CITING THOSE ACCESSING THE ROSE CANYON TRAIL

It has come to our attention that the probation department is cracking down on those descending down the Rose Canyon Trail. They intend to have the Sheriff cite those who they catch at the base of the trail where it crosses their property.

We will be researching this issue and plan on approaching County Supervisor Campbell, whose district the Joplin Boy’s Ranch is in, to see if we can reroute the base of the trail and address security concerns related to the Joplin Boys Ranch.

We may be seeking your help in this issue and may call upon you to email or call Supervisor Campbell’s office.

3. VISION QUEST AND COUNTING COUP TRANSFER POLICY

If you seek to transfer your spot in either the Counting Coup or Vision Quest you must mail a money order (no personal checks) in the amount of $25.00 made out to either the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund or to the UCLA Foundation.

You must also include with that money order the event application filled out and signed by the person who is taking your place, which we will provide you with.

Mail the money order and filled out application to:

The Warrior’s Society
11278 Roanoke Court
Cypress, Calif. 90630

Once the application and money order is received we will notify you and those taking your place that the change has been made.

The Warrior’s Society

4. MONUMENT STATUS BEING PROPOSED FOR THE SANTA ANA MOUNTAINS

A coalition of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, is proposing removing the Santa Ana Mountains from the jurisdiction of the Forest Service and transferring it to the National Park Service creating the Grizzly Bear National Monument.
As you know the Sierra Club has been pushing for wilderness status for the Santa Ana’s and their most recent proposal was defeated. Wilderness Designations ban mountain biking. The Forest Plan proposals, which were also defeated, also sought to ban mountain bikes from the Santa Ana’s.

As Jim Meyer of Trails4All ( www.trails4all.org ) pointed out in an email to me:

With very few exceptions, mountain bicyclists are treated very badly under “National Monument” status, and almost always limited to roads only. (Not quite as badly as under a Wilderness designation, but nearly so.) http://www.imba.com/resources/agencies/travel_rules.html

The Trabuco Ranger District currently offers some of the finest single-track access in the state.

Simply put, the Sierra Club, and big “W” wilderness proponents do not look out for the interests of our constituents, recreational trail users. Their idea of “recreation” and ours are not on the same page.

We will keep you informed as this campaign progresses and may seek your support in defeating it if we feel your access to the Santa Ana’s is threatened.

Shimano is the Major Component Sponsor of the Warrior’s Society

Rock N Road Bike Shops, El Pollo Loco and Switchback Cyclery are Major Sponsors of the Warrior’s Society

E2 Hydro is the official hydration drink of the Warrior’s Society

Hammer Nutrition is the official Nutrition bar and gel of the Warrior’s Society

The Warrior’s Society is a Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC) affiliated organization

The Warrior’s Society is a Tax Exempt Organization under 501 (c) 4 of the IRS Code

“Far better it is to dare mighty dreams, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take the ranks with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat!”

Theodore Roosevelt

www.warriorssociety.org

Comments are closed.