Taxes get wasted of a lot of foolish projects, government pork and corporate welfare. But did you know that there are tax dollars that are used to build sweet trail? It's a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the funding that goes towards motorized transportation, but it can amount to cool projects for cyclists. Recently a bunch of us went to DC to lobby for more funding for these projects. Things are drawing to a close and Congress is going to decide just how much cash will be put towards this (which goes by the name of the Recreational Trails Program). Tell them you want the bigger of the two proposals. See info below from IMBA.
-------------------------------- Singletrack Funding Threatened in Congress
Every six years, Congress reviews and reauthorizes the nation's transportation programs. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is just a portion of this behemoth bill, but it's vital for mountain bikers. That's why IMBA urges cyclists to take immediate action to protect the higher-funded House version of the program.
You can help by sending a letter to your U.S. Representatives with this easy-to-use form:
How much does your state stand to gain? Here are a few examples:
* In California, the difference between the House and Senate version is $12 million, enough to build 1,236 miles of new trails * In Michigan, the difference is $5 million, or 516 miles of new trails * In Oregon, it's a $3 million gap, or roughly 293 miles of new trails * In short, all 50 states would see massive reductions in funds for trails and trail-related facilities if the Senate's version prevails * The difference totals about $223 million. That could build 17,000 miles of new trails!
See how much money is at stake in your home state: RTP Funding
Please don't delay! The House and the Senate are in conference to reconcile the differences between the two bills. For the past two years, our lobbying team in Washington have pushed IMBA's message. All of that hard work will pay off if we make one final rally that convinces Congress to preserve and expand trail projects from coast to coast.
Fight the Power //
Thursday - May 26, 2005
For those who wonder why this space can frequently focus on trail access issues, read this long post and digest. Recently, after long hard work, IMBA reached an agreement with the National Park Service that would allow the possibility of mountain biking in areas that were previously banned. In reality, not much has opened up, but the future can sometimes come at a slow pace and you need to look at the big picture and how this can all move forward. Luckily MTBers have been getting more organized over the years and have been learning about the power of numbers (not so subliminal message: go sign up for IMBA and/or your local club now) but other groups are much further ahead of us and are much more experienced. So, it's not like it's an easy battle or things are all good just because we've become clued in with how we have to go about getting access and keeping it.
So with that introduction, see the following press releases/letters that are the result of the group PEER and their desire to crush this new MTB agreement with the NPS.
IMBA Official Memorandum
Regarding: Inaccurate PEER Commentary on IMBA/NPS Agreement From: IMBA Communications Department To: Senior NPS Officials Date: May 19, 2005
IMBA Contact: Pete Webber Communications Director firstname.lastname@example.org 303-545-9011 ext. 112
On May 19, 2005, the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released an inaccurate and prejudicial press release, titled "Mountain Bike Deal May Open Up Park Wilderness: 5.5 Million Acres of Wild Lands Vulnerable to New Mountain Bike Trails."
All of us at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) were saddened to see a PEER release that plainly seeks to derail the productive and positive-minded agreement that IMBA and the National Parks Service (NPS) recently forged. PEER's document is built on several glaring inaccuracies:
* That the IMBA/NPS agreement threatens Wilderness (or recommended Wilderness) parcels in national parks. In fact, the agreement clearly states that mountain biking will only be allowed in locations authorized by the NPS * That mountain biking is incompatible with the goal of offering quality recreation opportunities and resource protection in national parks * That park officials will be powerless to decide on a case-by-case basis where mountain bike riding is appropriate * That a simple partnership agreement could reverse Wilderness regulations
IMBA is planning a press release that will address the trumped-up PEER statement and present the IMBA/NPS agreement for what it really is: A straightforward statement of cooperation that will help bring new recreational opportunities and experiences to park visitors. The agreement does not weaken the commitment that the NPS has made to Wilderness.
PEER's attempt to misrepresent the agreement as a threat to park users is unfair and deplorable. IMBA invites NPS officials to send commentary that can be incorporated into our upcoming press release. Please send your remarks to:
IMBA Contact: Pete Webber Communications Director email@example.com 303-545-9011 ext. 112
For Immediate Release: May 19, 2005 Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337
MOUNTAIN BIKE DEAL MAY OPEN UP PARK WILDERNESS - 5.5 Million Acres of Wild Lands Vulnerable to New Mountain Bike Trails
Washington, DC - A recent agreement between the National Park Service and mountain biking interests may inadvertently throw millions of acres of proposed wilderness open to bike trails, according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Wilderness Society and PEER are asking the NPS Director to clarify that wild lands eligible for wilderness designation are off-limits to bike trails.
On April 21, 2005, NPS Director Fran Mainella announced a "General Agreement" between her agency and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). While in some respects that agreement is an improvement over the haphazard way that some parks allowed bicycle use on park trails, the agreement makes no provision to protect millions of acres of park backcountry that is recommended or proposed as wilderness. Already, mountain bicycle groups have proposed a new 25-mile trail through recommended wilderness in Voyageurs National Park.
During the past 15 years, the President has recommended that Congress designate more than 5.5 million acres as wilderness across nineteen parks. Outside of Alaska, the NPS or the Secretary of Interior has proposed more than 2.5 million acres be designated wilderness in nine parks.
"By this oversight, the Director of the National Park Service throws into question the undisturbed quality and serenity of vast tracts within 28 national parks," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that bicycle trail designation on lands proposed or recommended as wilderness would create a constituency that would likely seek to prevent wilderness designation. "In the name of partnership, the Park Service may actually be prescribing a formula for bitter conflict and recrimination."
Unless the agreement is clarified, if a park established bicycle use within recommended or proposed wilderness, that use would be immediately haltedonly if the land was eventually designated as wilderness by Congress. The Wilderness Society and PEER are asking NPS Director Mainella to inform the regional office and parks that recommended and proposed wilderness lands are off-limits to bicycle trail designations under the NPS-IMBA agreement.
By contrast to the confusion about proposed wilderness, the agreement did clarify that parks may allow bicycles on "administrative roads" outside of developed zones in parks without publishing a special regulation. Administrative roads are roads in parks that are closed to public motor vehicle use but routinely used by NPS vehicles for administrative purposes. NPS must still comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), however, and accept public comments prior to designating administrative roads outside of developed areas as open to bicycle use.
"Of course, anything that encourages visitors to get out of their cars in congested and developed park areas is great but bicycle use on park trails is not about getting visitors out of cars - cars do not operate on hiking trails," Ruch added. "This is about allowing mechanical transportation on backcountry trails that are now open only to foot or horse."
PEER and Wilderness Society Letter to NPS
Ms. Fran Mainella Director, NPS 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20240 May 19, 2005
Dear Ms. Director:
The Wilderness Society and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) have sought to ensure compliance with National Park Service (NPS) regulations that govern bicycles. The regulations at 36 CFR 4.30 require each park to adopt a special regulation to designate off-road bicycle routes outside of developed areas and special use zones. Regulations adopted in 1987 compel each park to subject off-road bicycle use to the "much more stringent decision-making process" of special rulemaking (51 FR 21844).
In the last few years several parks allowed bicycle use in violation of NPS regulations. A few brought themselves into compliance after PEER notified them. Among those parks was Saguaro National Park, which adopted a special regulation to allow off-road bicycle use in 2003. In May 2003 Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area removed signs improperly allowing off-road bicycle use because a special regulation was never promulgated. We commend these parks. Several other parks, however, remain in violation.
On March 17, 2005 the NPS signed a General Agreement (GA) with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), a group advocating trail biking in parks and on other Federal lands. The Wilderness Society and PEER are both pleased and concerned about the GA. On April 21, 2005 your office transmitted the GA to all NPS regional offices.
Recommended and Proposed Wilderness
We are concerned by the complete absence of the word "wilderness" in the transmittal memo or the GA. The memo does not alert parks of the need to manage recommended and proposed wilderness to the highest level of protection. The Wilderness Act prohibits mechanized transport, including use of bicycles. NPS regulations prohibit the simple possession of a bicycle in designated wilderness (36 CFR (4.30(d)(1)). NPS Management Policies require that ".management decisions pertaining to lands qualifying as wilderness will be made in expectation of eventual wilderness designation." Management Policies 6.3.1. Lands recommended by the President or proposed by the NPS as wilderness certainly are "qualifying as wilderness." Designating a trail for bicycles within areas recommended or proposed as wilderness defies Management Policies.
Bicycle trail designation in recommended or proposed wilderness would also be contrary to the President's and Secretary's long-term management objectives for the wild areas. Bicycle trail designation would perversely create a constituency of users that would likely seek to prevent eventual wilderness designation. For a park to establish bicycle use on former roads or on trails within recommended or proposed wilderness, a use that would be immediately halted upon eventual designation, violates common sense. This is a formula for conflict not partnership.
There are nineteen parks in which the President has recommended that Congress designate over 5.5 million acres as wilderness. There are 9 parks (outside of Alaska) in which the NPS or the Secretary has proposed over 2.5 million acres be designated as wilderness, in formally adopted documents (i.e. General Management Plans, Wilderness Studies, and Environmental Impact Statements).
The omission of the word "wilderness" in the GA and the transmittal memo is already leading to confusion and potential conflict. Following the NPS agreement with IMBA, an off-road biking group asked that a 25-mile bicycle trail be opened within lands recommended for wilderness designation in Voyageurs National Park.
The Wilderness Society and PEER request that your office inform the regional office and parks that recommended and proposed wilderness lands are off-limits to bicycle trail designations. Otherwise, individual park superintendents will be left to guess whether the fact that the GA made no mention of recommended or proposed wilderness in the 28 parks is because "it goes without saying" that parks may not designate bicycle trails on such lands. A clarification of the intent of the GA on this issue is pressingly needed.
Status of Administrative Roads
We appreciate that your transmittal memo clarifies 36 CFR 4.30(a) and (b) regarding the status of "administrative roads" outside of developed areas. Your memo states that, "any proposed (bicycle) route other than an administrative road that is not within a developed zone must be promulgated as a special regulation." Under your memo, the NPS may designate "administrative roads" outside of developed zones for bicycles without a special regulation. Although such roads are closed to public motor vehicle use, your memo implicitly places "administrative roads" in the category of "park roads" in the meaning of 43 CFR 4.30(a). Special regulations are not needed to designate a "park road" open to bicycles. No park can now dispute that bicycle routes outside of developed zones, other than "administrative roads," require a special regulation.
Including "administrative roads" within the meaning of "park roads" is a liberal interpretation of the term "park road," nonetheless it is a reasonable one. Your memo properly stipulates that the NPS must still comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and accept public comments prior to designating administrative roads outside of developed areas as open to bicycle use.
Based upon an inventory of bicycle trails conducted last year by NPS Headquarters, it appears that several parks have designated former roads, not "administrative roads," outside of developed areas, as open for bicycles without promulgating a special rule. Your memo clarifies that such conduct violates NPS regulations. We trust that you will inform these non-complying parks of your expectation that they conform to NPS regulations.
Jeff Ruch PEER Executive Director Leslie Jones Deputy General Counsel The Wilderness Society 1615 M Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20036
The Long Way //
Monday - May 23, 2005
Former Baltimoron and current Alabama resident Fred Powell sent me some high test coffee called "Crank" that he's having blended up for his shop Cahaba Cycles. I'm drinking a cup of this now and the stuff is good. A nice dark roast, I could tell the beans were fresh as soon as I opened the package. Word is it's blended from the top 1% of beans in the world. If you want some it runs $12 a bag. Contact Fred at firstname.lastname@example.org for the skinny.
Another Saturday, another epic ride. This time stringing together two tough rides into one super-sized feast of pain. With over 2 inches of rain Friday the only option was to hit rock. Out to Fredrock and into the Catoctin mountains. Big rocks, little rocks, nothing but rocks. That's all you get and that's why it holds up to the rain. Once again we started in the lower Gambrill lot, 1 dudette and 3 dudes, followed the route we've been doing into the Frederick Watershed and out to Hamburg road. Lately this has been the turn around point making for a nice solid ride. But this time we continue on, pushing deep into the Northern part of the watershed for approximately 20 more miles. Climbing the Death March, working our way out to Rattlesnake overlook, the Salamander trail, the Sand Flats and all of the tasty riding that grinds you down with the relentless technical challenges. Things that are mildly challenging on other rides turn tough when you are many hours in and the muscles are quivering.
We all survived - well, one of us cut it a wee bit short by peeling off onto the road near the end and skipping the last couple of miles of trail. I won't mention names but he speaks with a funny accent and drives a little wind up car. Overall I was feeling good. As the miles rack up the body starts to feel fatigued, the mind starts to not be quite as sharp, but I certainly wasn't feeling the bonk and could have gone on for more. I attribute it to the Crank coffee that started the morning and the mid-ride Guinness tall boy I packed.
No flats in the group once again although my bike took a nice dent in the down tube. No idea where it happened, Mark spotted it when we were sitting in the parking lot putting down post ride brews and food. Not much you can do about that one.