This particular push for wilderness was championed by Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, and in most respects, it’s a giant victory for cooperative land preservation in an era where seemingly every big decision gets made by the courts and by executive order.
In fact, the one thing that brought about a legislative solution was Obama’s recent willingness to use the Antiquities Act, as other presidents have done in the past, to designate large swaths of the American West as national monuments.
But it has also left many local mountain bikers, who’ve long ridden trails in the Boulder–White Clouds, disappointed that they’ll no longer be allowed in.“My heart is broken, and the politics have left a very bitter taste in my mouth,” wrote professional endurance mountain biker and longtime Sun Valley resident Rebecca Rusch of the wilderness designation.
The entire process has put riders in the increasingly familiar and uncomfortable position of opposing wilderness legislation.
If hikers and bikers are at each other’s throats, the only interest group that will benefit is the one that would prefer extraction and development.
Personally, I don’t think there’s a place for bikes in the wilderness, but I do think they should be encouraged just about everywhere else.
There are very real threats to the wilderness right now, and I think that the growing animosity among recreation interests is every bit as dangerous as the Big Creek mining road.
Recently, just north of the Boulder–White Clouds in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the largest contiguous wilderness area in the Lower 48, American Independence Mines and Minerals Co.
But, insists Brooks, those trail exclusions weren’t just for motorized users. “Mountain bikers had a huge influence on this bill.” The Wilderness Society also points to other success stories where riders and wilderness advocates have been able to come together, notably the designation, last December, of wilderness and mountain biking areas in the Hermosa Creek Watershed just north of bike-crazy Durango, Colorado.
Still, when it comes to Boulder–White Cloud, members of the cycling community have been up in arms.
”According to the Outdoor Foundation’s most recent participation report, there are roughly 8 million mountain bikers in America and 10 million backpackers.
And mountain biking, which didn’t exist to have a seat at the table when the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, is only getting more popular.
The new bill, now law, laid out three separate wilderness areas that look a bit like a three-armed amoeba.