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International Mountain Bicycling Association

Mountain Bike Groups Release Proposal for Mount Hood National Forest

Boulder, Colorado

The Oregon Mountain Bike Alliance (ORMBA) and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) have released a proposal that would protect the undeveloped lands of the Mount Hood National Forest using a combination of diverse designations, rather than just a federal Wilderness designation. Bicycling is prohibited in all federal Wilderness.

The ORMBA/IMBA plan includes a detailed map covering all the lands in the "Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act," proposed in 2004 by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. The groups estimate that bill would have permanently closed more than 200 miles of trails to bicycling. While endorsing some lands for new Wilderness designations, the mountain bike groups suggest conserving the forest's roadless areas with additional designations that will address the concerns of a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

"Bicycling in the Mount Hood area is an essential ingredient of the tourism and recreation economy of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington. Opportunities for mountain biking are particularly important to many of the one million people who live near this national forest," said Roger Louton, a board member of the Portland United Mountain Pedalers. According to bicycle tour company owner Woody Starr, "The future of the local bike economy -- comprised of bike shops, outfitters/guides, and manufacturers -- depends on access to these public lands."

"Bicyclists want to ride in roadless, pristine lands -- like hikers, we relish the opportunity to visit these places. Our proposal demonstrates that Wilderness is not the only way to protect public lands," said IMBA Representative Paul Thomasberg, a leader of the Bend-based Central Oregon Trail Alliance.

The bicycling groups propose four designations other than Wilderness:

1) National Protection Areas: NPAs have all the fundamental land protections of Wilderness, prohibiting mining, timber harvest, construction of roads and dams, and motorized travel. But NPAs allow bicycling and do not include the complex, restrictive philosophy of Wilderness.

2) Hood Pedaler's Demonstration Experiment Areas (PDX): Senator Wyden proposed this new designation in his 2004 bill. These lands would be managed just like Wilderness, except bicycling and clearing trails with chainsaws would be allowed.

3) National Conservation Areas: NCAs represent a middle ground between Wilderness and regular national forest management. The ORMBA/IMBA proposal improves on previous NCA designations by prohibiting the construction of new roads and water projects (NCAs can encompass existing roads.) This designation would also allow limited, sustainable logging, as well as motorized travel on designated routes.

4) Singletrack Trail Designations: Bicycling groups propose some areas be adopted as Wilderness, but with special allowances for mountain biking on specific trails.

"We want the backcountry to remain roadless and protected. Our plan will safeguard more lands more quickly by using a variety of approaches," said Mark DeJohn, an IMBA representative in Bend, Oregon.

"Closing the remaining backcountry to bicycling is just unacceptable," said Douglas Van Zandt, board member of the Columbia Area Mountain Biking Advocates in Hood River. "Our goal for this proposal is to accommodate existing users while experiencing no net loss of trails."

The cycling groups have already presented their proposal to the members of Congress representing these lands, the USDA Forest Service, local county commissioners, and Wilderness proponents. ORMBA and IMBA wish to hear from all interested parties and plan to continue dialogue on protecting and preserving public lands while allowing recreation opportunities. The groups are encouraged by the continuing efforts by members of Congress -- on both sides of the aisle -- to work toward a compromise that will address all interests concerning Mount Hood.

Maps detailing how the proposed designations for Mount Hood might be administered can be downloaded from IMBA's web site:

About the Cycling Groups:

ORMBA is a network of Oregon groups, clubs, individuals and companies with an interest in enhancing mountain biking opportunities while protecting our nation's forests.

IMBA is a national and international education and advocacy organization with 550 member clubs, 32,000 individual members and more than 400 corporate partners and dealer members. IMBA creates, enhances, and preserves trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide.

Additional Contacts:

Roger Louton: Oregon IMBA representative, Portland, OR 503-702-4590;

Mark DeJohn: Oregon IMBA representative, Bend, OR 541-948-0993;

Paul Thomasberg: Oregon IMBA representative, Bend, OR 541-383-2243;

Mark Eller: IMBA communications specialist, Boulder, CO 303-545-9011 ext.115;

Gary Sprung: IMBA senior national policy advisor, Boulder, CO 303-545-9011 ext.116;


International Mountain Bicycling Association

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