By Craig Stirling, Hamilton, Jo Gmazel, Hamilton, Robert Oset, Hamilton, James Haynes, Hamilton, Jerome Hammond, Hamilton, Kit Tilly, Hamilton, Joe Rimensberger, Hamilton, Charles Mabbott, Darby
We are Bitterroot Valley residents and long-time mountain bike enthusiasts.
We have observed the recent media attention and controversy surrounding the Bitterroot National Forest’s 2016 decision on mountain biking in the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas. We note that local and national-level mountain biking organizations have mostly criticized the Forest’s travel plan for not allowing bikes in the WSAs.
We have ridden trails in these WSAs in the past. The Blue Joint in particular is a spectacular riding experience. But at some point, we who value wild lands must decide to forego these opportunities in order to preserve the quality of the WSA and ultimately, to ensure the integrity of the Wilderness Act and the concept of wilderness itself. We are willing to put the land ahead of our own self satisfying experience and encourage other thoughtful bikers to join us. We are fortunate to have thousands of acres of public land to ride without intruding on the limited spaces still eligible for wilderness designation.
We support the BNF’s decision to restrict mountain bike use in the WSA’s.