Congress is currently considering legislation that would undermine a bedrock law that protects America’s iconic landscapes, our traditional way of life, and the wild landscapes that we’ve safeguarded for generations. This shortsighted proposal should be defeated.
H.R. 1349, introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), would re-write the Wilderness Act of 1964 to permit mountain bikes in America’s wilderness, where they have been prohibited for more than a half-century.
The National Wilderness Preservation System, created by the 1964 law, ensures that some of our remaining wild country remains as it has been for hundreds of years. By law, wilderness areas do not allow road building and other forms of development, and prohibit motorized and mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes.
America’s public lands provide for a variety of recreation, including mountain biking, hiking, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. As outdoorsmen and women, we treasure the quiet outdoors experience that wilderness areas offer. These lands are vital to our traditional way of life. They are the places we ride, hike, hunt, and fish.
But wilderness experiences are becoming increasingly rare in our rapidly mechanizing world. Wilderness provides a place to unplug, escape the modern hustle and enjoy the freedom and physical tests that generations before us have challenged themselves to among our nation’s most natural and wild environments. Wilderness also prevents the fragmentation of essential fish and wildlife habitat that keeps wildlife populations healthy and diverse. Increased mountain bike and recreational disturbances can have negative effects on big game species.