Boxer is right on with her bill |

Boxer is right on with her bill

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2003 deserves our support even though it may restrict some kinds of use in certain areas. If mountain bikes were kept out of the Meiss Meadows area, it would certainly be a good thing for the environment. That watershed is the headwaters of the Upper Truckee River which is the major source of water for Lake Tahoe and that makes it even more important to provide the maximum protection possible.

We cannot afford to intrude upon our wild areas with our mechanized equipment — even our footprints must be guarded lest they, by their very numbers, destroy, or even alter, the pristine scenery we came to experience. Mechanized use can only exacerbate the problem and therefore should be prohibited in some areas.

Consider for a moment the extreme alternative. What if we had a Forest Service that said we needed a resort that would accommodate hundreds of people on the shores of every lake in the Sierra Nevada range? What if there were no restrictions on off-road vehicles? What if airplanes were permitted to fly 20 feet over your housetops? What if there were no noise restrictions on cars and boats? Yes, in this ever more crowded state ever more restrictions on human activity are necessary for our mutual well being.

With all due respect to those mountain bikers who also enjoy the wonderful trails available to them in the Tahoe area it is still true that hikers and bikers do not make a compatible mix of users. There should be large areas where hikers can be assured of a peaceful day on the trail without the presence of the ugly scars and erosive damage that is evident wherever bikes go.

It is unfortunate that hikers are not “organized” like the bikers are; the hiker must speak individually and not with the political power of organization. I would hope that our lawmakers recognize this inequity among user groups when they try to visualize the problems that face us.

I urge the bikers to back off and be satisfied with their present privileges. No one is saying that they cannot enjoy the pleasures of Desolation Valley or the Meiss Meadows area — its just that they shouldn’t take their bikes there because of the environmental damage they do and because of the incompatibility with other users.

Jim Hildinger

South Lake Tahoe

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