Mountain bike bill undercuts Wilderness Act, waters down backcountry recreation

May 29, 2018

Mountain bike parked at trail sign.

Michael Carroll
Recently, U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill to fundamentally alter the Wilderness Act by allowing bikes and other mechanized transportation in wilderness areas, which the Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits.

The bill, S. 2877, is similar in its intent to H.R. 1349, the “wheels over wilderness bill,” which was introduced by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).  More than 100 outdoor groups oppose H.R. 1349.

The Wilderness Society strongly opposes both bills and opposes all efforts to rewrite or undermine the Wilderness Act and the values the law protects. Mountain biking is already permitted on millions of acres of public lands but not in the nation’s wildest places.

Statement by Michael Carroll, Senior Director, People Outdoors Program at The Wilderness Society:

“Americans value wilderness areas for their solitude, tranquil pace and natural character. Senator Lee, in his latest attack on public lands, seeks to water down those values by opening America’s wildest places to mountain bikes and other mechanized uses.

“Over the past half century, Congress and the public have repeatedly resisted efforts to undermine the Wilderness Act.  Proposals like S. 2877 and H.R. 1349 that prioritize ‘wheels over wilderness’ only create controversy. They distract public land user groups from our shared goal of conserving wild places while improving and balancing access for all.

Members of Congress should affirm their long-standing support for conserving our wildest public lands and reject these bills.”

The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.