US Forest Service issues guidance pertaining to mountain bikers

The US Forest Service issued an agency memo that could benefit mountain biking in American National Forests. The memo, written by Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop, "clearly defines mountain biking as simliar to hiking and equestrian use, and activity to be managed separately from motorized travel," according to IMBA. Previous studies have shown similar impact among hikers and mountain bikers and both user groups share many common objectives.

Forest Service director for recreation, heritage and volunteers Jim Bedwell, made the announcement at the IMBA World Summit and said the document has been distributed to agency staff regionally and locally.

"I want to emphasize that mountain biking is a non-motorized use of National Forest System trails, along with hiking and horseback riding. In our planning and policy documents, a distinction between mountain biking and motorized uses...should be made," said Holtrop in the memo. This guidance could aid the efforts of mountain bike advocates involved in National Forest planning and management processes.

According to an IMBA statement, "Bedwell's announcement comes at a time when some national forests have applied similar restrictions to bicycles and motor vehicles. IMBA believes most Forest Service staff understand bicycling is a quiet, non-motorized, low-impact activity, and hopes the letter provides the guidance necessary for consistent treatment of mountain biking on every national forest."

The memo also recognized the importance of the partnership between IMBA and the US Forest Service. The two parties work together under a Memorandum of Understanding that has been renewed three times thus far.

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