[Cdt-l] Mountain Bikes

Jim Wolf mail at cdtsociety.org
Wed Nov 18 21:46:03 CST 2009

As the Forest Service explained in the recent amendments to the 
Comprehensive Plan for the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, 
"the nature and purposes of the CDNST are to provide for high-quality 
scenic, primitive hiking and horseback riding opportunities and to 
conserve natural, historic, and cultural resources along the CDNST 

When these amendments were under consideration, CDTS submitted comments 
that advised that "in backcountry (and, especially, alpine) settings ... 
bicycle use should be authorized rarely, if at all." The amended plan 
now leaves it to the consideration of individual forest units to 
determine whether bicycle use "will substantially interfere with the 
nature and purposes of the trail."

The Forest Service has indicated its intention to address the mitigation 
of bicycle use in its planning processes. This implies that bicycle 
advocates will need to demonstrate the compatibility of bike use - 
rather than placing the burden on hikers and equestrians to show that 
the impacts are adverse. Nevertheless, in reviewing the forests' travel 
planning proposals, we expect to highlight aesthetic (quiet and 
solitude) and ecological aspects of bicycle use that, in our judgment, 
would result in "substantial interference with the nature and purposes 
of the trail."

When the CDNST was designated as a national scenic trail in 1978, 
mountain biking had not yet appeared on the horizon. The trail was 
intended, as noted, for hiking and horseback riding. An experience apart 
from the noise and hustle of the everyday world was to be fostered and 
protected. We will continue to promote this original vision -- and, of 
course, in national parks as well as national forests.

Continental Divide Trail Society
Jim Wolf, Director

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