Take a hike, mountain bikers | AspenTimes.com

Take a hike, mountain bikers

Dear Editor:

I recently read a letter from Chris Beebe of Carbondale and his opinions on why wilderness doesn’t work (letters, Sept. 28, The Aspen Times). My love for the forest and the wildlife it holds has compelled me to reply to Chris and all the other people out there who agree with his views.

Clearly Chris is a mountain biker and has taken things personally here. It’s not as if the Wilderness Workshop decided to launch this movement with the primary goal being to “get bikes off the trails.” The point is to protect our hidden gems from natural gas and oil drilling.

Wilderness Workshop cannot be held responsible for polarizing our community; it’s the people opposing this logical proposal that are responsible. So you want to ride your bike, at what cost? At the cost of leaving these wonderful places exposed and vulnerable to oil, gas and timber companies? Seems terribly selfish. And just because over-land travel is not restricted on many public lands, and there is no process for designating new bike trails, that does not make it OK to just ride all over the place! That’s exactly why these places need protection: To prevent people like you from creating miles of new trails and justifying it by saying it’s “not illegal.” It should be!

And whether or not you can compare motorcycles to bikes is irrelevant if you don’t have protection and motorcycles can ride these trails anyway. There is no logic here! Chris, your letter makes me want to puke. It’s hard to connect to the wilderness when you have machines and mountain bikes raging through the wild. And up to this point all users have had the chance to experience our beautiful places, and instead of cherishing these places, they shred them, creating new trails off of old ones and expanding the human influence into the deepest parts of the forest; creating noise and air pollution and driving wildlife away, causing them to burn energy that they depend on during the winter.

I checked your “third-party” studies (www.imba.com). Talk about a biased resource – the International Mountain Bicycling Association. What a joke. You’re right: Some users have more potential for destruction than others; it’s time to get off the bike and hike, Chris. I was born and raised in this wonderful valley and I have seen the change in our forests as more and more people use them for recreation, and more people are coming.

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We need to unite right now, putting aside our selfish personal interests and protect our middle-elevation ecosystems. The White River National Forest is not growing, and no, 35 percent is not enough. That leaves 6 percent open to destruction by big money and idiots who have no respect for the wilderness.

Turn the tunnel vision off and see the big picture. Without wilderness protection we won’t have any wilderness at all! I’m fired up, and I think everyone else should be too. Where are the forward-thinking people of the Roaring Fork Valley? Speak up!

Zach Hayes

Carbondale