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|IMBA to Testify in Front of Congress Today
|The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) will testify in front
of Congress today regarding a proposed Oregon Wilderness bill. IMBA board
member Chris Distefano will speak before members of a subcommittee of the
Senate Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C. to explain how the
bill would impact mountain bikers. While IMBA supports the preservation of
primitive public lands in an undeveloped condition, the Wilderness
designation bans bicycles.
"IMBA is committed to representing mountain bikers at the highest level of
government," said IMBA government affairs director Jenn Dice. "By influencing
decisions in Washington, D.C., we're able to provide more trails on the
ground, or in cases like Wilderness bills, help prevent trail closures for
mountain bikers across the country."
IMBA local clubs, Wilderness advocates, Oregon elected officials, recreation
groups and others have been working for months on the bill. Distefano will
say that IMBA supports the goal of protecting the undeveloped roadless areas
of the Mount Hood National Forest, but the bill would close about
approximately 200 miles of trail to bicycling.
The bill, called the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2004,
includes an unusual provision to protect bicycling access. Senator Ron Wyden
(D.-WA), the sponsor of the bill, has proposed the "Mount Hood Pedalers
Demonstration Experiment Area," which would manage 13,000 acres like
Wilderness while allowing for continued bicycle access.
"IMBA generally supports the intent of the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood
Wilderness Act because our members value protecting pristine lands from
development," said IMBA senior national policy advisor Gary Sprung. "On the
one hand, they want to protect the areas they ride, but on the other, they
don't want to lose access to the trails they have ridden for almost two
decades. Consequently, IMBA believes that the proposed Mount Hood Pedaler's
Demonstration Experiment Area is a positive step forward in public land
policy regarding Wilderness as it protects the land while allowing bicycling."
For more information on IMBA's work regarding the proposed Oregon Wilderness
bill, visit www.imba.com/resources/wilderness/oregon
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