A proposed Montana forest plan revision could set a dangerous national precedent by closing hundreds of miles of singletrack to bicycles. Montana's Bitterroot, Flathead and Lolo National Forests are recommending a new policy that will ban bicycles from trails in many roadless areas where access is currently allowed.
More than 400 miles of trail in seven roadless areas near Missoula are at risk, including many epic routes cherished by local cyclists. Some of the best trails include Heart Lake, Monture Creek, Bluejoint Creek and Blodgett Canyon. The Great Burn area alone contains 139 miles of singletrack that will be made off-limits to bicycles.
Unless cyclists take action, the Forest Service will zone these lands as "Recommended Wilderness," and will ban bicycles. Although most national forests around the country allow existing uses such as mountain biking to continue in Recommended Wilderness, the Bitterroot, Flathead and Lolo will not, thus setting a dangerous precedent.
For additional information about IMBA's plan to petition the forest service authorities considering the measures, please visit www.imba.com. The deadline to submit comments regarding this matter is August 7, 2006.