Letter — Environmentalists vs. environmentalists
I respect and share Jim Hildinger’s passion for protecting the environment, but I beg to differ.
We’re living in a paradox with increased development versus environmental protection. While Tahoe was once a place of tolerance,
since the Boxer bill, misperceptions and animosity have surfaced. Unfortunately, people frustrated with change are using mountain bikers as the scapegoat.
We’re not the enemy. We’re part of the solution. Since 1988 we’ve worked on trails and educated riders to protect resources and minimize conflict. We bike commute to reduce traffic congestion and pollution because it’s our lifestyle and daily commitment to conservation.
We’re not debating the value of Wilderness. We understand its importance and appreciate it –we hike too. Our concern is about our right to access our public lands in a responsible manner. We’re grateful for the limited trails we have.
People seeking hiker-only trails have five existing Wilderness areas totaling 382,926 acres. Hikers enjoy 100 percent access to public lands. Mountain bikers don’t. And, bikers and hikers do co-exist. A Forest Service survey indicates the typical summer user mix in Meiss is 60 percent hikers, 30 percent bikers, and 10 percentequestrians.
More importantly, there is no scientific proof that bikers cause greater erosion than hikers. Just because you see our tracks doesn’t mean we cause damage. A Wilderness designation doesn’t fix trail erosion problems. Only good trail design can. Although the Forest Service has proposed a solution for Meiss and the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act protects it, the League and Wilderness advocates insist bikes be banned, using opinions rather than fact.
My friend summarized the irony perfectly, “The conflict doesn’t exist between environmentalists and cyclists; it’s between environmentalists and themselves. Wilderness advocates are alienating the very constituents who have the greatest interest in backcountry preservation.
Hikers, cyclists and equestrians are human-(or animal) powered, non-polluting outdoor enthusiasts who depend entirely on the conservation of open space to enjoy their pursuits. Advocates’ insistence that cyclists must choose between their bicycles and conservation is a fabricated choice. Cyclists want to protect our wild lands, but with an alternative offering levels of protection similar to Wilderness without banning bikes.”
South Lake Tahoe