Wallace Stegner referred to the creation of the National Park System as America’s best and most original idea, worthy of emulation around the world.
The centerpiece of this radical attempt is contained within a bill fallaciously labeled the SHARE Act. Its full title is the: “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (HR 3668).
Tucked away in the SHARE Act’s original 29 pages is Title IV, the “Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage Opportunities Act” which mandates that wilderness managers support and facilitate state wildlife agencies with access to, and use of federal public lands for purposes of protecting and enhancing public fishing, hunting and general recreation.
If attacking America’s second best idea–our system of Wilderness areas—isn't offensive enough, this assault also aims to take the public out of the public land management decision-making process. If successful, this one-two punch will devastate a landmark conservation law like no other effort in recent history.
The SHARE Act by itself is bad enough, it is accompanied by several other hydra-heads of anti-environmental extremism.
One is House Bill H.R. 1349 that would “amend the Wilderness Act to ensure that the use of bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and game carts is not prohibited in Wilderness Areas.”
This bill was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on December 13, 2018. Only one Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming voted against the bill, stating that: “While I believe we need to do all we can to provide access to our public lands, our wilderness areas are special and those who enjoy those pristine lands, including our guides and outfitters, should not have to worry about mountain bikes and other vehicles on our wilderness land and trails.”
A surprisingly bold, and commendable position statement yet it comes replete with inconsistency on the part of Wyoming’s Congresswoman.
As of the time of this writing, H.R. 1349 has not been scheduled for a vote by the full House and appears to be a low priority for House Speaker, Paul Ryan. Fortunately, if it were to get to the Senate, its passage there is considered by observers to be slim, but far from zero.
Passage of this bill is the singular mission of the non-profit California-based Sustainable Trails Coalition, and represents the second time in as many years that they have attempted to open Wilderness areas to mountain biking.
It must be noted that the International Mountain Biking Association has come out against this bill. Another vey commendable position but why haven’t they been more vocal in defending wildlands conservation?
In an inexplicable twist of position, a week after Rep. Cheney voted against the mountain bikes in wilderness bill, she introduced her own bill, H.R. 4697 that completely contradicts her earlier position.
This bill specifically targets three Wyoming Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs): the Palisades (135,840 acres), High Lakes (15,224 acres), and Shoal Creek (32,374 acres). It would legalize “…all recreational uses occurring within such Wilderness Study Areas on the date before the day of the enactment of this Act, including horseback riding [already allowed in all WSA’s], snowmobiling, dirt bike riding, mountain biking, and helicopter skiing.”
Yes, the bill would legalize snowmobiling, dirt bike riding, mountain biking, and helicopter skiing—accommodating these user groups that, to date, have defied the law governing wilderness study areas, invading those lands as trespassers.
This is only a portion of this long, well-researched article in the Mountain Journal. CLICK HERE to see the whole article and photos.