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Just presenting facts here, no BS or misrepresentations, unlike OregonWild Reps do:
As presented to the US Congress and Senate in April 2008:
Thank you for the opportunity to offer some observations on House proposals (Oregon Treasures) related to land protection legislation for Mt. Hood.
The new House proposal would close approximately 123 miles of trails to mountain bike access. To the best of our knowledge all these trails are open to bikes in compliance with Forest Service rules and regulations and are actively used by mountain bicyclists. Critical among these trails are those located in the Boulder Lake/Bonney Butte/Twin Lakes/Barlow Butte area, one of the region's most significant riding areas. The House proposal restricts access to more than 20 additional miles of trail beyond that in the committee-approved Senate version (S. 647). These are some of the few areas left to mountain bicycling on the South side of Mt. Hood after the Senate proposed closures at Twin Lakes and Bonney Butte.
As you know, mountain bicyclists are avid trail stewards who support protecting primitive lands around Mt. Hood, and contribute thousands of hours of volunteer trailwork across the state and on Mount Hood. In July 2004, IMBA and ORMBA submitted testimony in support of the Mount Hood Stewardship and Legacy Act (HR 5025), stating they were "pleased the bill includ[ed]:
- An investment of almost $800,000 of unobligated special use permit fees to be retained for trails and recreation on Mount Hood
- Consideration for high use recreation areas that are popular within the mountain bike community ? that these trails were left outside proposed Wilderness boundaries to allow for continued bike access
- A seat on the Mount Hood National Forest Recreational Advisory Council for a mountain bike representative
- The suggestion that the Forest Service consider creating singletrack trails open to bicycles from decommissioned roads
- Recognition of recreation as a dynamic social and economic component of Mount Hood."
Now, it is very frustrating to the mountain bicycling community to see that each iteration of this legislation has gradually closed off more lands from mountain bike access. The Mount Hood Stewardship Act (HR 5025) closed approximately 58 miles, less than half that now in the Oregon Treasures proposal (approximately 123 miles closed). The Senate committee-approved bill (S. 647) closes approximately 100 miles of trails. If more lands are designated Wilderness, and thus made off-limits to cyclists, an important constituency will be shut out. It does not need to be this way.
Land protection efforts do not need to focus exclusively on Wilderness; they can be more inclusive of other designations that are equally conservation minded but allow mountain bicycling to continue in traditional areas. We need a toolkit of strong protections to apply the right designation to suit each area?s distinct history and its future.
That is why the mountain bike community was so encouraged by S. 647 which creates the Mount Hood National Forest Recreation Area (NRA) that will allow mountain biking to continue in areas such as Fifteen Mile Creek, Boulder Lake, and Shellrock Mountain. When combined with the boundary adjustments for other trails in the area, S. 647 preserved access to the most popular and scenic places for cycling such as Fifteenmile Creek, Larch Mountain, Dog River, Surveyors Ridge, Boulder Lake, Shellrock and Mount Defiance.
Instead of taking away trails our community has enjoyed for decades, National Recreation Areas are a way to protect Mount Hood for future generations to enjoy and also to engage more of the Oregon bike community in land protection. National Recreation Areas have been used in many places around the country and on National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and USDA Forest Service lands. Furthermore, the legislative language for NRA's can be narrowly drafted to limit or prohibit motorized uses, permanent structures, mining and extractive uses and so forth (we are very pleased to see these elements are included in the new draft House bill). Inclusion of this designation in S. 647 was very promising. Also promising, was seeing NRA's endorsed by House Concurrent Resolution 305, which states:
"Resolved by the House of Representatives, That the Congress [...] (2) supports policies that [...] create bicycle-friendly Federal land protection legislation, such as national recreation areas, to encourage regulations and management practices for mountain biking as an environmentally friendly nonmotorized use of natural surface trails[.]"
It is difficult to understand why traditional mountain biking areas in the region, particularly on the east side of Mt. Hood, need to be designated as Wilderness when an equally effective land protection designation is readily available; and supported by members of the Oregon Congressional delegation.
We strongly endorse the NRA proposal and suggest expanding it to several other key areas. In particular, we request that the proposed NRA be used for Hell Roaring Creek and the entire Boulder Lake/Bonney Meadows/Twin Lakes/Barlow Butte area.
Designating these areas with an NRA would allow IMBA and the local trails community to work in conjunction with the Forest Service on a pilot, demonstration program to preserve wetlands in the Boulder Lake area. Mountain bikers care deeply about these areas and want the lands protected for our traditional and existing use. Sustainable trail building techniques would allow trails groups to improve and maintain a boardwalk through the swampy portions of the Boulder Lake area, thereby eliminating a hike and bike section through a sensitive wetland area. By working together on such a project, the partners could demonstrate that hiking, biking and recreation uses can co-exist successfully with ecological preservation. Simply restricting reasonable access by designating this area as Wilderness will foreclose this opportunity and squander the potential for a truly innovative ecological preservation project.
Alternatively, if this proposal is not acceptable, we suggest maintaining the NRA boundaries defined by S. 647; and preserving a popular trail, known as the Bonny Butte Trail (Trail #471) under the aegis of Wild and Scenic River status. The Bonney Butte Trail starts in the Twin Lakes area and travels east toward Boulder Lake. This 5. 2 mile trail provides a critical connection across three key areas for mountain biking - Boulder Lakes, Bonney Meadows and Twin Lakes area. It currently enjoys Wild and Scenic River designation status - one of the most protective land designations afforded by Congress. As proposed, the Mount Hood bill would change the status of the Bonney Butte Trail to Wilderness protection. Layering this area with Wilderness unnecessarily prohibits continued bike access and blocks a connector trail to other key trail systems. Keeping this trail protected by a Wild and Scenic designation, removes less than 1,000 acres from the overall proposal and only a few hundred acres if the boundary is narrowly drawn. As a low-impact, quiet and human-powered activity, mountain biking is compatible with Wild and Scenic areas. We ride on many trails protected under this designation.
As we've stated before, mountain biking is a healthy, human-powered outdoor activity with minimal environmental impact and a positive economic influence for Oregon. Oregon is known for being solutions-minded and looking for new ways to tackle old problems. We look forward to working with the Oregon delegation and interested stake-holders to achieve this goal.
Jill Van Winkle
ORMBA and CAMBA representative
IMBA Trail Specialist
Hood River, OR
ORMBA and COTA representative
Eatern Oregon IMBA representative
Western Oregon IMBA representative
posted 4 years, 4 months ago
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