Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tracks of my Tears

I like to mountain bike too-so bear with me on this post-although I am more of a logging road type of biker than a trail rider, I see the fun and worth of this pursuit. But what I am growing more and more alarmed at over the years is the amount of backcountry degradation and disregard for land management rules that mountain bikers are responsible for. Granted, most mountain bikers are decent people who hold the natural environment in high regard-but I have found too many of them to be thrill seeking yahoos who don't. On a recent trip to the spectacular Columbia Gorge area known as the Coyote Wall, which is pretty much a mountain biking playground, you can see some serious environmental degradation. There are trails-or as the bikers like to call them-tracks- all over the place- gutted, rutted messes across gorgeous meadows- erosion-inducing gouges and flattened plants. I have seen motorized backcountry areas in better shape. And in the forest below the canyon wall there are all kinds of illegally built bike "catwalks"-again I have seen motorcycle areas in better shape. And this is just the Coyote Wall. I have seen plenty more fat tire mayhem on our public lands-it's growing. Harvey Manning was concerned about it back in the 1980s. I'm growing more concerned about mountain bikers on our public lands too-especially as they are getting more organized and demanding more land and trails being open up to them. Do you think that is a good idea? I love to mountain bike too-but I also realize that there are places that my bike shouldn't go. As the public weighs in on the Coyote Wall and nearby Catherine Creek, it's quite possible that two user groups (hikers and mountain bikers) that should be working together will instead be going to battle against each other. In the long run that is not good for either of us-or if you are like me-both of us. I think mountain bikers have to reign in more of their renegade riders. What do you think?

(photo- rutted track on the Coyote wall-and this is one of the good ones)

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Hi Craig. Saw this issue on your Facebook although about illegal bikes on the PCT. I suspect one reason this place was heavily impacted is because so many trails in the region are closed to mountain bikes. Could be mistaken, but the Clackamas River Trail is closed to bikes although it would be suitable. A lot of the Gorge trails are closed to bikes. The latest Oregon wilderness bill closed about 40 miles of trails of bikes. The Baker Lake trail up in WA is closed to bikes although it'd be suitable for bikes. Not that this is an excuse for what you saw but when a popular pastime is concentrated, there will be increased impacts. You ought to notify the Scenic Area about what you saw. They may do something about it like closing down the vigilante trails.

I wish the bikers would get off the metal and smell the flowers sometimes. But people are into gravity thrills and want the green tunnel roller coaster experience and don't care to examine nature that much.