Epic Trail threatened in West Virginia
From Kyle Lawrence of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition:
I want to spread the word about a pending Wilderness bill in Congress that would designate 6,000 acres of Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia. It is likely that you have probably already heard of this bill through a number of IMBA action alerts and press releases by the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA). The initial bill was introduced by a lame duck politician, Allan Mollohan and as such the proposal is contained entirely within Mollohan’s own first district. In October, Senator Rockefeller introduced companion legislation in the Senate thus moving the bill one step closer to becoming a reality.
The problem is that if passed, Wilderness designation of the northern end of North Fork Mountain would permanently close the North Fork Mountain and Landis trails to bikes. As part of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation area, these trails have been designated an “epic ride” by IMBA. In addition, the northern end of the ridge contains the most “single-track” section of trail and is the most popular area for cyclists.
Right now it seems unlikely that anything will happen with the legislation in the closing weeks of the current lame duck congress yet we remain vigilant. As I write this, there is a public lands Omnibus draft bill floating around the Senate. While the North Fork legislation is not currently attached, there is concern that Senator Rockefeller may add it on at the last minute. As such we are asking for your help.
We currently have a petition out there that is falling far short of our goal of 2,000 signatures. I am asking fellow bike shops to please get all of their employees to sign the petition as well as spread the word with your customers. As of now it looks as if only a few hundred people care about the North Fork. We need to change that perception, even if you have never ridden the trail it would be a shame to never have the opportunity to ride your bike on such an amazing trail complete with even more amazing scenery and views. The North Fork is truly an epic destination worth protecting but not at the expense of bicycle access. If the Wilderness bill fails to pass, we plan on working with conservation groups in West Virginia to achieve future
compromises where both sides can agree upon protecting public lands while minimizing the impacts to bicycle access.
So I ask once more for you to please sign the petition to preserve bicycle access to the North Fork Mountain Trail.
More information including all the relevant press coverage can be found at the North Fork Blog.
You can also read IMBA’s ongoing coverage of the situation at their site.
Montana riders dismayed by Wilderness bill
And things are very much the same in Montana, where House Republican John Tester has proposed a bill that would enlarge both logging and wilderness areas, threatening 400 miles of trail. Despite IMBA’s work with the U.S. Forest Service and Tester’s office, the proposed bill fell well short of their ideal solution.
Tester is recieving even more criticism for attaching the bill to a spending package without undergoing a full committee hearing in both chambers.