A fight is gearing up over the use of e-bikes on public lands trails. The National Park Service says it has no current policy governing the use of electric motorized bikes or e-bikes, but that's about to change. While details have yet to be announced, the park service says it will release a new policy sometime later this year.
Opponents are geared up for a fight.
In a letter to NPS (PDF) acting Director P. Daniel Smith sent Friday, a large coalition of horse riders, trails and green groups warned that "federal land managers simply do not have the resources to police e-bikes on trails."
"We understand that federal land management agencies are currently considering policy changes to allow e-bikes on non-motorized trails," said the letter, whose signers included the Wilderness Society, Back Country Horsemen of America and the National Parks Conservation Association. "Such a policy is ill-advised and would undermine nearly a half century of management precedents and practices."
The groups said e-bikes "have a place on public lands and generally should be allowed where motorized vehicles are permitted." But they added that the "existing motorized trail system provides plentiful opportunities for e-bike use with tens of thousands of miles of trails currently open to their use."
The letter, which was also sent to the heads of the Forest Service and BLM, said allowing the e-bikes greater access on public lands would "send agencies down a slippery slope towards allowing further motorization of trails and potentially the entire backcountry."
The National Park Service had no comment specifically on the letter.
"We are working on developing a national policy and will be happy to share those details once the policy is complete later this year," said NPS spokesman Jeremy Barnum.
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