NPS Bike Ban Lifted
Anti-recreation groups and NPS advocacy groups go ballistic in opposition
POCATELLO, ID (July 12)–The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national trail-based recreation group, applauded a move by the National Park Service (NPS) early this month that could allow additional mountain bike recreation in National Parks across the U.S.
On July 5, 2012, the NPS released revised regulations (known as a “rule”) giving park superintendents the ability to allow bicycles on roads that exist on the ground but have been closed to motorized vehicles. The rule could, if approved via planning and environmental analysis, also allow mountain bike use on some existing trails.
Brian Hawthorne, BRC’s Public Lands Policy Director, praised the decision saying that the NPS needs to recognize that its dual mission requires it to fully consider meaningful and diverse recreation activities. “When creating the National Park System, Congress mandated that the Park Service ‘promote’ and ‘provide for the use and enjoyment’ of park resources and ‘leave [the park resources] unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.’” Hawthorne noted that these coequal mandates require the NPS to balance both interests when making management decisions for national parks. “Allowing Park Superintendents to allow mountain bikes is the right thing to do,” he said.
Environmental groups and NPS advocacy organizations howled in opposition, saying the agency “slithered” the new policy in on Independence Day, insinuating mountain biking in National Parks is somehow unpatriotic. The Center for Biological Diversity joined the National Parks Conservation Association and the Association of National Park Rangers expressing grave concerns the rule would circumvent public involvement and environmental analysis.
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