Photo of the High Sierra

Hiker Alert - Tell Congress to Oppose Mountain Bikes in Wilderness

Deadline: ASAP!

Your letters are urgently needed to stop legislation that would allow bikes and other mechanized equipment into wilderness areas across the country. Utah Republican Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch have introduced a bill, "The Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act", that would allow mountain bikes and other forms of mechanized equipment into designated wilderness areas for the first time ever. The bill would also lift the ban on use of chainsaws in designated wilderness. The bill was instigated by the Sustainable Trails Coalition, one of the most anti-wilderness organizations to form in recent years.

Since its passage in 1964, the Wilderness Act has protected wilderness areas designated by Congress from motorized vehicles and machines of all types. This has meant, as Congress intended, that wilderness has been kept free from cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles, bicycles, and all other types of vehicles and mechanized transport.

This bill is an assault on the very idea of Wilderness and the values of the Wilderness Act. When Congress established the National Wilderness Preservation System, it defined Wilderness as "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man." Currently, these lands represent less than 2.7% of the total land area in the coterminous United States. Mountain bikes have their place, but it is not in this tiny fraction of the landscape set aside to preserve natural ecosystem function.

What You Can Do

Please join the High Sierra Hikers Association, Wilderness Watch, and more than 115 other conservation groups throughout the country by writing your Senators and strongly urging them to oppose S.B. 3205, the "Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act," as well as any and all other attempts to weaken the Wilderness Act by allowing mountain bikes and other mechanized forms of transportation in these precious areas. Remind them that the overarching purpose of the National Wilderness Preservation System was to shield these lands them from encroachment of human development and to allow ecosystems to function unimpaired. Point out that allowing mountain bikes, which can travel at great speeds and cover great distances, effectively shrinks the wilderness, making it even more difficult for hikers to find the truly primitive wilderness experience that was envisioned in the Wilderness Act. And finally, note that there are thousands of miles of roads and trails on public lands outside of wilderness where mountain bikers can enjoy riding.

If you live in California, contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein at the addresses listed below:

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3553
You can submit your comments online to Senator Boxer

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3841
You can submit your comments online to Senator Feinstein

If you live outside of California, find the appropriate contact information for your state’s senators here.

You can check the status of this bill.

What Else You Can Do

It has been a number of years since we have actively solicited HSHA members for donations. The reasons for this are straightforward. The HSHA has had sufficient funds in our bank accounts to maintain our daily operations and support ongoing activities related to monitoring agency activities and pursuing legal remedies when necessary. Equally important, we understand that there are many worthy causes out there and that, at times, the appeals for money from various groups can be overwhelming. Thus, the HSHA made the conscious decision to refrain from pestering our members with repeated appeals for money, choosing instead to solicit funds only when they are truly needed.

That time has come again. In May of this year, we filed suit against Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for failing to provide in a timely manner materials related to wilderness management that HSHA requested through the Freedom of Information Act. Stonewalling by the Park Service for more than a year made it necessary to obtain assistance from attorneys. Although we are receiving this assistance at a discounted rate, the costs are adding up, and we need your support. Please donate what you can so that we can keep up the fight to protect our wilderness areas.

Lastly, when you renew, please provide HSHA with your email contact information so that in the future, we can move toward entirely electronic communications. As always, we promise not to sell, loan, give or otherwise provide this information to anyone for any reason.

You can renew your membership online or by mail.