The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) was recently invited to join the Utah Wilderness Coalition (UWC). In response to this invitation, IMBA solicited input from its members and on April 25, 1998, hosted a Utah Wilderness Forum in Park City, Utah. In addition to IMBA's board, staff and members, represented groups included the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Bureau of Land Management, Emery County and Utah state officials, Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Utah Trail Machine Association, Utah Wilderness Coalition, and the Wilderness Society.
The IMBA board of directors voted not to join the UWC, but committed to work as a partner with the UWC to protect all of the lands in their proposal, although not necessarily all as designated Wilderness. IMBA's board also committed to working with the UWC on other mutual goals.
IMBA's policy regarding Wilderness is as follows:
1. IMBA is committed to protecting wildlands and open space while allowing for appropriate bicycle access.
2. IMBA values the role the 1964 Wilderness Act has had in protecting wild places. IMBA believes that additional Wilderness designations are warranted and will support these when appropriate.
3. Bicyclists must be at the table when Wilderness decisions are being made. IMBA is committed to maintaining access to traditional and important bicycle trails through attention to Wilderness boundaries and the use of alternative land protection designations (e.g., National Conservation Areas, Wild and Scenic River Zones, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, National Monuments, etc.).
4. IMBA is not advocating the introduction of mountain bikes in existing designated Wilderness areas. However, IMBA believes that bicyclists are appropriate, muscle-powered trail users that are compatible with the philosophy of the 1964 Wilderness Act and the intent of Congress to exclude motorized "mechanized transport" from Wilderness areas. In 1984, the definition of "mechanized transport" was extended to mountain bikes without adequate data, experience or input.
IMBA is a 10-year old organization that supports environmental initiatives such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and other efforts to acquire and preserve open space at local, state and national levels. In the mountain bike community, IMBA fosters the ethics of responsible minimal impact recreation, volunteerism and resource stewardship.
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