The “Wheels Over Wilderness” bill, introduced by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA), carves a gaping loophole in the 1964 Wilderness Act. The bill would open America’s 110 million acres of wilderness areas to mountain bikes, an unprecedented assault on wilderness areas across the country. For five decades Congress has resisted efforts to undermine the Wilderness Act by opening wilderness areas to uses that are currently prohibited. These efforts have failed due to strong public support for wilderness. With less than 3% of the land in the continental United States designated as wilderness, there are plenty of lands— including public lands—that remain open to mountain bicycles outside wilderness. H.R. 1349 also attempts to use wheelchair access as a reason for amending the Wilderness Act. Section 507 of the Americans with Disabilities Act already makes clear that wheelchairs are permitted in wilderness.
We all know and love the Wilderness Act of 1964. For decades it has protected wilderness areas designated by Congress from motorized and mechanized uses. There have been many attacks on the Wilderness Act over the years, but the latest is H.R. 1349 , which seeks to drive a wedge between users groups and our allies. Friends of the Inyo supports mountain bike recreation and recognizes the need for more trails in areas outside of Wilderness. Proponents of HR 1349 are trying to erode the Wilderness Act piece by piece with misinformation.