at bikes in wilderness
THE WEST– Should mountain bikes be allowed in wilderness
areas? That’s a sore point among both wheeled and nonwheeled
advocates of wild places, and one that Wild Earth (Spring 2003)
addressed in a half dozen essays.
By all accounts, there’s a “natural affinity between
the mountain bike and the mainstream environmental communities,”
says Jim Hasenauer, a professor from California who has served
on the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s
Board of Directors since 1988. But the ban on mountain bikes
in designated federal wilderness has so annoyed many mountain
bike organizations that they see the conservation community
as an enemy. Some, siding with the motorized group, the Blue
Ribbon Coalition, accuse the “environmental industry”
of “locking out citizens from their lands.”
Part of the debate tilts on whether the Wilderness Act of 1964
specifically excludes mountain bikes. Hasenauer concedes the
law bans “mechanized transport,” but he argues that
this was defined in 1964 as “propelled by a nonliving
power source.” Doug Scott, a wilderness historian as well
as lobbyist for several conservation groups, disagrees. He points
out that the plain language of the law separately prohibits
both “motorized” and “mechanical,” suggesting
the two are not the same.
Also disputed is the erosion caused by mountain bikes. Some
bicycle riders contend their impacts are no greater than hikers.
But Dave Foreman, publisher of the magazine and chairman of
the Wildlands Project, says that argument defies visual evidence
and common sense. “The basic difference between feet and
tires is that tire tracks are continuous and foot tracks are
discontinuous. Water finds that narrow, continuous tire tracks
are a rill in which to flow. Also, because many mountain bikers
are after thrills and speed, their tires cut into the ground.”
Foreman concedes that trails engineered for mountain bikes
have minimal damage but asks how many trails meet such standards.
“Moreover, I regularly see mountain bikers cutting off
cross-country, even on steep slopes, for more of a challenge.
They seem blind and deaf to the damage they cause.” Most
bicyclists don’t go into the backcountry for contemplation
or to experience self-willed land, he adds. “They want
an outdoor gymnasium. They’re after speed and thrills.”
Dog rules come to Winter Park
WINTER PARK, Colo. – In comparison to most resort valleys,
Winter Park and the Fraser Valley are about as gussied up as
a pair of rumpled Dockers. But changes are afoot – the
first $1 million home has been completed, a recreation center
is being built, and now there are even poop-bag dispensers for
This is, says Harry Williamson, editor of the Winter Park Manifest,
(July 30), evidence that life is changing – perhaps for
the worse. “Not only are city folks taking over,”
he says, “they are bringing their damn, prissy dog manners
with them. City mores are becoming the norm in Winter Park and
the Fraser Valley.”
Although Williamson has been a consistently vocal supporter
of the Intrawest development at Winter Park, he says the days
of dogs in the back of pickups, big-slobbering dogs on hiking
trails and construction sites rife with dogs will soon be gone.
Idaho down-valley towns booming
WOOD RIVER VALLEY, Idaho –The two principle towns downvalley
from Sun Valley and Ketchum were among the fastest growing in
Idaho during the first two years of the millennium. Hailey’s
population grew 12 percent, to more than 7,000. Bellevue grew
6.5 percent, to more than 2,000 residents.
The growth in Hailey is due more to redevelopment. Applications
for single-family-home permits have actually fallen off. “The
trend in Hailey is going to remodels, partly for lack of lots,”
said Gene Seymur, who directs a building trades group. However,
commercial building is reported to be going “haywire.”
The Idaho Mountain Express (July 16) suggests that a host of
problems, including some testy traffic issues, can be traced
to bad or nonexistent land-use planning, which resulted in an
absence of affordable housing in Sun Valley and Ketchum.
Mountain bikers flood Whistler Mtn.
WHISTLER, B.C. – The Whistler Mountain Bike Park one
day this summer recorded 1,115 riders, not including downhill
competitors, which Pique newsmagazine (July 19) says is clear
evidence of the viability of mountain bike tourism. While the
Whistler Summer Gravity Festival was the draw, mountain biking
seems to have a steady presence at the resort. One local group,
the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association, has 1,000 members.
Study confirms lynx in Yellowstone
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – Genetic testing has
confirmed the presence of a Canada lynx and her kitten in Yellowstone
National Park. This news surprised National Park Service biologists,
who feared the species might be extirpated, or no longer living,
in Yellowstone. Nearby, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest,
biologists monitored a small population of lynx during the late
1990s, but that population seems to have disappeared.
Bears force hikers into groups of six
BANFF, Alberta – Recently a grizzly bear followed 20
meters behind a woman who was hiking in the Larch Valley region
of Banff National Park. After shadowing her for about 20 minutes,
the bear backed off, and she joined another group of hikers.
She was, of course, frightened.
But as a consequence, Parks Canada has mandated that hikers
in certain areas of the national park hike in groups of at least
six people, and horse riders in one valley must be at least
in tandems. Such restricted access has been tried for several
years as a way of providing maximum public safety while minimizing
how much bears get habituated to people. Once habituated, they
usually become more bold around people. As is, park officials
fret that the bear population is perilously small, given that
a certain population threshold is needed to ensure reproduction.
Republican groups gather in Aspen
ASPEN, Colo. – Somebody must not have been told that
Vail is for Republicans, Aspen for Democrats. During August,
two GOP factions were to meet in Aspen. One was the Republican
Pro-Choice Coalition and the other Empower American, described
by The Aspen Times (July 31) as an ultraconservative group.
The newspaper didn’t say, but Aspen and surrounding Pitkin
County are among Colorado’s most reliably Democratic precincts.
Hungarian woman feels U.S. blues
SILVERTHORNE, Colo. – Is America the promised land? Apparently
it wasn’t for one Hungarian woman who basically destroyed
the apartment near Silverthorne where she had been staying.
Kitchen drawers were emptied on the floor, the glass-topped
kitchen table was broken and the microwave destroyed. The woman
was found in a bedroom, two kitchen knives nearby.
Through a translator, the woman told sheriff’s deputies
she was angry at not having been paid and also a bit homesick.
Asking if immigration authorities would be contacted, she seemed
to be happy when told that they would, reports The Summit County
Independent (July 29).
Aspen’s first Olympian dies at age 67
ASPEN, Colo. – Aspen was eulogizing its first Olympian,
Max Marolt, who died of a heart attack while skiing at Las Lenas,
Argentina. He was 67.
Roger, one of his sons, said: “The shadows of Aspen Mountain
will seem a bit longer now. But if heaven is anything it’s
cracked up to be, you can bet that Max is taking a couple of
A native of Aspen, Max Marolt joined the U.S. Ski Team in 1954,
and after a daring run at the FIS Championships in 1958, he
was invited to represent the United States at the 1960 Winter
Olympics in Squaw Valley. Although he didn’t fare as well
there as he had hoped, finishing 15th in the downhill and giant
slalom, says the Aspen Times (July 28), he paved the way for
dozens of locals with dreams of gold medals. Among them was
his younger brother, Bill Marolt, who competed at the 1964 Winter
Following a massive heart attack in 1975, he resolved to quit
smoking, drinking and working so hard, which included being
a county commissioner. However, he didn’t give up politics
altogether. In 1995, he was elected to the Aspen City Council.
Marolt is to be inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame
-compiled by Allen Best