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BLM OHV Strategy Comments

U.S. Department of the Interior - BLM
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240.

December 21, 2000

Dear BLM Officials,

I am writing to comment upon the December 4th draft BLM National Off-Highway Vehicle Management Plan, and voice NEMBA's opposition to the BLM's proposal to regulate mountain bikes as motorized vehicles.

I'm sure that many people have commented about the injustice and the erroneous logic of regulating bicycles on BLM lands as if they were motor vehicles. I hope you all take these comments to heart and to mind.

Though I write as the executive director of a large New England-based mountain bike advocacy organization –a region that does not have BLM lands-- I wish to convey how important your decision is for recreational trail users throughout the country. Groups like NEMBA are one of the nation's greatest supporters of trails. We provide thousands of hours of volunteer labor and donate thousands of dollars each year to take care of trails and to preserve open space. We do this because our sport has made us acutely aware of the importance of public access to public lands and we have developed a strong belief in land stewardship.

We believe that the BLM's intent to regulate bicycles as if they were motor vehicles will have a negative impact in our organization's ability to harness the volunteer energies of our constituency. The draft plan would marginalize cyclists and prevent us from not only recreational access, but more importantly, would also dramatically inhibit our ability to care and maintain trails.

Mountain biking has brought millions of Americans on to public trails. This has been good for our public lands since such activity had engendered a strong sense of land stewardship. Organizations like NEMBA are part of the fastest growing movement of new environmentalists. In this political era of budget cuts, depleting land management staff and diminishing funds for trail preservation projects, mountain bikers are an important and critical resource for the volunteer care of public lands. Please use cyclists a resource for the good of the trails. Please do not banish us by erroneously asserting that we are the same as 4WD vehicles.

If the BLM's argument is based upon the mistaken belief that bicycles have similar environmental impacts as motorcycles, please read the following study which verifies that bicycle impacts are on par with those of hiking.

Off-Road Impacts of Mountain Bikes A REVIEW AND DISCUSSION. SCIENCE & RESEARCH SERIES NO.92, (1995) by Gordon R. Cessford (http://www.mountainbike.co.nz/politics/doc/impacts/index.htm ).

Thank you for your consideration,
Philip Keyes