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IMBA Represents Mountain Bikers in California Wilderness Discussions
IMBA Represents Mountain Bikers in California Wilderness DiscussionsFor the past three months, IMBA representatives have been talking with California Wilderness advocates about the details of new California Wilderness proposals that are likely to be announced in the coming weeks. IMBA state rep Jim Haagen-Smit, board member Jim Hasenauer, former board member Michael Kelley and IMBA advocacy staff member Gary Sprung have met with California Wild Heritage Campaign organizer Traci Van Thull and others to identify areas of common interest and areas where there may be conflict because new Wilderness proposals will overlap popular mountain bike routes.

The goal of these discussions has been to reduce and resolve these conflicts. We want to find ways to maintain access to significant California riding areas while, at the same time, supporting Wilderness. One priority for IMBA's representatives in this process is to connect local California mountain bikers who know their local trails with Wilderness advocates.

Timetable & IMBA Philosophy
At this point, the California Wild Heritage Campaign is looking at all USFS and BLM roadless areas as potential Wilderness. (IMBA generally supports roadless area protection because it maintains the natural integrity of the backcountry and preserves appealing, undeveloped settings for riding and walking.) Clearly, not all of these areas will be proposed as Wilderness. It is also unlikely that existing roadless area boundaries and proposed Wilderness boundaries will be the same. We are expecting a formal announcement of proposed new California Wilderness areas in the coming weeks, though specific boundaries may not be determined or identified.

It has always been IMBA's position that mountain bicyclists need to be at the table when proposed Wilderness boundaries are being discussed. Proposed Wilderness designations are challenging for mountain bikers: while new designated Wilderness preserves public land in a natural state, it also mandates a complete ban on bicycle use - the result of a 1984 U.S. Forest Service interpretation of the Wilderness Act.

Study the Proposals
IMBA needs California mountain bikers to participate in this process. A first step for California IMBA clubs and individual mountain bikers is to develop a basic understanding of these new Wilderness proposals. Here are some websites to visit:

CWC (California Wilderness Coalition) web site:

On the California state page of the U.S. Forest Service roadless website, there are PDFs for each National Forest. Check out the ones close to you:

We'd like you to scrutinize these proposals - as they are announced - to identify important riding areas.

Share Your Knowledge & Stay Connected
A second step, for riders who have detailed local knowledge of the trails in the areas under consideration or are simply interested in receiving California Wilderness updates, is to visit and register for the IMBA California Wilderness Update List.

Later this year, IMBA may ask California mountain bikers to contact your two U.S. senators and U.S. representatives to provide specific recommendations. We'll continue to monitor this process closely and keep our members posted on new developments.

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