The IMBA thinks this is a big win:
“Together, they negotiated a deal whereby a section of less than a mile of trail that travels through the nearby Wheeler Peak Wilderness, interrupting a popular high-alpine singletrack near the town of Red River, would be opened to mountain bikers if they backed the Act to fully protect the study area.”
Even though it includes this little caveat:
“Taos-area mountain bikers for three decades had been riding the 75 miles of trails in the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area. According to Pickett, the rules in a study area are grayer than those dubbed ‘wilderness’ and the Forest Service historically didn’t manage that 45,000 acres in a way that prohibited mountain biking, so it was a common place to ride. With the new wilderness designation, riding there is strictly off-limits.”
This is a win in the eyes of IMBA: giving up 75 miles of trail in Taos to gain access to less than a mile in Red River. Great. At that rate we should lose all mountain bike trails in the country, and then gain 100 miles of new trail, which would give us 2 whole miles of trail per state. Awesome!
I know, I know, it sounds bad, but listen, we’re at the table now. That means something. They’re listening to us:
“It puts us at the table with this wilderness alliance. Before they didn’t want anything to do with us… Now we’re a member, we’re considered a member of the alliance and anything they do down the road, we have a say.”
So now, instead of just taking away trail like they did in the ’84 Wilderness Act expansion, now land managers, bureaucrats, and Congress will invite IMBA “to the table,” give IMBA a tiny insignificant carrot, and then take away all the same trails they planned on taking away anyway.
It’s the idiot test. If someone lowballs you in a negotiation, and you always take the lowball offer, then guess what? You failed the idiot test, and they’re always going to lowball you. Why would someone give IMBA prime rib, or even a whole piece of bread, if IMBA is willing to eat whatever scraps are left under the table.
Look at how pitifully low IMBA’s stated goals are for Wilderness expansion:
- IMBA is not advocating the introduction of mountain bikes in existing designated Wilderness areas.
- IMBA values the role the 1964 Wilderness Act has had in protecting wild places. IMBA believes that additional Wilderness designations are warranted and will support these when appropriate.
- Bicyclists must be at the table when Wilderness decisions are being made.
- IMBA is committed to protecting wildlands and open space while allowing for appropriate bicycle access.
GRRRRR!!!! Reading those talking points, you can almost hear IMBA getting their teeth out like a rabid tiger.
Will IMBA or any MTB advocacy group ever say no to any offer, no matter how insulting and low?
Will IMBA ever demand, ask for, or even define what most mountain bikers actually want?
My favorite thing is that in the original article [posted here, IMBA’s glowing press release can be seen here], no one talks about whether or not mountain bikes belong on the 75 miles of trail in the study area. Sure, mountain bikes were allowed on those 75 miles of trails for years and years and apparently the forest didn’t burn down and the bears and flowers didn’t die off, but if the Sierra Club wants to close that 75 miles off to mountain bikers forever, that seems reasonable. No argument. No discussion of the existing trail network, traffic rates, or how different user groups have coexisted on the trails over the past decade or so. Nope, if Sierra Club thinks the trails need to be “protected” from mountain bikes, then they must be right.
Mountain bikers in general, but IMBA especially, don’t view advocacy as negotiation, they view it as begging. Begging for whatever they can get, with no strong vision of success, only the vague notion that more access is probably better hopefully, but less would be okay too as long as it isn’t too much less, please. That could be a bumper sticker or a poster:
IMBA: More access is probably better hopefully, but less would be okay too, as long as it isn’t too much less, please.