In response to Howie Wolke’s anti Mountain bike opinion piece.
Wow Howie what biker ran over your toes? It is pretty hard to take someone serious when they preach the virtues of horse packing and usage over mountain bikes in the backcountry. For every picture of mountain bike damage you can document in roadless areas I can send you a hundred caused by horses. I can also send you plenty of examples of abusive backpacker use in the wilderness. You are staking your claim on a historical definition and not on reality. Some things need change. We used to use outhouses. We don't anymore. There all kinds of things we did as traditions or lack of knowledge in the past but now we know there are better ways. Would you advocate the required wilderness use of cooking fires and all that goes with that over the use of mechanical stoves? Yes mechanical… as in lots of other wilderness gear.
Your views are emotional and not logical. You put mountain biker users in the same category as motorcyclists, snowmobilers and other motorized users. Mountain bikers are on your end of the impact scale even more than a horse user, yet you don’t demonize the horse. You further state “When mechanized mountain bikers demand access to proposed and designated wilderness…”. I do not know of any proposal by mountain bikers to seek access to existing wilderness. No one would take on that lost cause. Access to roadless areas… yes.
How do mountain bikers passing you and your clients diminish their “hard earned wilderness experience” any more than a horse packer going by you with all the animal feed, mechanization and excesses that horses bring into the wilderness? For one thing if your clients see mountain bikers then you are not in a wilderness. Horse and stock feed is a much larger “trolling for grizzlies” nuisance than any biker moving through the woods. I am curious as to why you feel you can force feed the definition of wilderness on these adjacent and unspoiled lands that you also happen to be exploiting for profit right along with traditional wilderness?
If you’re your point truly is protection of the land then you would have to address the “sacred horse”. No legal animal or use of wilderness is as damaging as the horse. If you are the backpacking outfitter you claim to be then you know this for a fact and would never refute it. You know that discussion is “off limits” as it a “tradition”. So instead you turn your wrath again to bikes in non-wilderness settings.
Perhaps it is time to start with a clean sheet when it comes to policy on wild, but currently, non-wilderness lands. Let's consider a “horseless” interface that only allows horse usage via corridors of access to get to existing wilderness areas. The balance of the “roadless interface” would be for use by other non-motorized users. I assure you that in 20, 50 or 100 years that this roadless and horseless interface will be in much better shape than our existing wilderness.
You need to pick your fight with the true degraders of the wild areas. How about cattle grazing on public lands? That “sacred cow” is almost as sacred as the horse… Don't get me started. “Let’s be frank”, you should look around and see who your low impact comrades truly are.
Dear Rev. Strong,
Perhaps “we” are at war with ourselves …and you have chosen to vent on us.
Pattee Canyon, Blue Mountain and the Rattlesnake are Missoula’s backyard playground. I don't think anyone has the illusion that Crazy Canyon is a wilderness. I suspect that you live in a house that has a yard that you maintain at a higher level than Crazy Canyon even with it’s thinned trees. Our urban interface recreation areas are similar in that “for the greater good” they require more intensive management than wilderness to accommodate the most legitimate needs.
The more wild woods you seem to seek are just about a mile further out. If that still isn't sufficient we have lots of true wilderness available… really close.
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