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Mountain Bicycling and Wilderness Activists Adopt New Spirit of Cooperation
 
12/23/2002
Issued Jointly by the Following Organizations:

Bicyclists of Nevada County (BONC)
California Wild Heritage Campaign
California Wilderness Coalition
Campaign for America's Wilderness
Colorado Environmental Coalition
Colorado Mountain Club
International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)
Nevada Wilderness Project
Oregon Natural Resources Council
Oregon Wild
Quiet Trails
Tahoe Rim Trail Association
The Wilderness Society

Joint Statement of Commitments Released
Seeking to initiate a new era of cooperation, mountain bicycling and Wilderness advocates have agreed on a set of working principles that they hope will improve their sometimes tumultuous relationship.

Because current federal regulations ban bicycles from designated Wilderness, the negotiation of new Wilderness proposals has often been difficult for these two groups in places where both opportunities exist. The new agreement is intended to guide future relations between Wilderness and mountain bicycling activists.

"Since most mountain bike enthusiasts support protection of primitive federal lands through Wilderness and other designations, there is no reason not to work closely with Wilderness groups. This agreement signals the start of that cooperation," said Gary Sprung, senior national policy advisor for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

The newly released Statement of Commitments emphasizes early, open, civil and continued dialogue on the Wilderness issue. Both groups hope that adherence to these principles will preserve both the integrity of the National Wilderness Preservation System and important trails for mountain bike enthusiasts.

Representatives of the organizations listed above met in Reno, Nevada on March 19-20, 2002. An extensive series of discussions followed, culminating in the approval of the following Statement of Commitments by their respective groups. Patagonia and Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) co-sponsored the Reno meeting. It was facilitated by the Osprey Group of Boulder, Colorado, a well-known mediation organization.

Dan Smuts, Assistant Regional Director for The Wilderness Society in California added, "Wilderness advocates and mountain bikers often seek the same goals on public lands. Since mountain bikes aren't permitted in Wilderness, we need to work together to find ways to accommodate both sides. It's a worthy goal to protect pristine Wilderness and make sure that the most valued mountain bike trails remain open."

The signatories invite other groups to endorse these commitments and to join in the action steps identified.

Statement of Commitments
At the invitation of REI and Patagonia, Inc., a group of 14 mountain bicycling and Wilderness advocates* met in Reno on March 19-20, 2002, to address how their two communities can work more productively together. They committed to the following:

Commitments Reflecting Our Shared Values
Because we value recreation and solitude in wild natural settings that preserve clean air, clean water and wildlife habitat for this and future generations:

We commit to early collaboration leading to joint Wilderness/protection proposals where possible. Where not possible, we commit to good faith negotiations and willingness to compromise where feasible.

We commit to supporting and enhancing local communication, cooperation and boundary decision-making by showcasing success stories and providing strategic partnership advice.

Action Steps
We will take the results of the meeting back to our leadership, colleagues and individual groups to be widely shared and discussed.

Wilderness organizations and IMBA will each assign a point person to facilitate communication and cooperation among local, regional and national groups.

Wilderness and mountain biking enthusiasts will use their communication tools to share information about each other's views - e.g., we will encourage publication of pro-Wilderness perspectives in mountain biking media and pro-mountain biking perspectives in conservation media. Highlight success stories whenever possible.

Create a password protected website for sharing information (e.g., Wilderness Act history, political overviews, mountain biking priorities, contacts, perspectives).

We commit to clarify when unauthorized individuals misrepresent our organizations.

Identify, support and publicize model Wilderness/protection projects in which both Wilderness proponents and mountain bicycling groups engage in a collaborative effort with mutually acceptable results. We commit to the early sharing of and timely response to information, especially maps showing initial proposals, boundary definitions and trail locations, as a means to support collaborative planning and decision-making.

To encourage ongoing coordination, four to six representatives will be selected from this group to participate in a series of conference calls (May, July, September and November) with summaries of the calls shared with the entire group.

We commit to encouraging mountain biker participation in Wilderness events and Wilderness leader participation in mountain biking events.

www.imba.org



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