Bikepacking Roots is launching a series of initiatives to quantify a range of the economic impacts of the bikepacking community. This is critically important for better understanding the positive financial impacts that we have on communities and services along popular bikepacking routes.
If you have 5 minutes to spare, we would greatly appreciate if you would complete our "Spending Habits of Bikepackers" Survey to help with this study.
We’re excited to announce that Courtney Zotts as the winner of the Binary Bicycles titanium frame that we're giving away as part of our summer membership drive! And we're even more excited to hear that Courtney is planning to ride her new frame on the southern part of the Wild West Route while on a break from school this next year!
We'd also like to welcome and thank everyone who joined Bikepacking Roots during our membership drive! Our membership has now topped 4,000 individuals and continues to grow steadily, strengthening our ability to advocate for the bikepacking community.
The US Forest Service is revising NEPA regulations and has proposed eliminating the requirement of public input for many land management decisions. Now is the time to speak up to preserve scoping and public commenting - the somewhat ironic comment period closed on 26 August.
(Note: This comment period has closed)
8 August 2019
Public lands need public input. Seems simple enough, right? Maybe not. Right now, the Forest Service is trying to eliminate public input from many of the decisions affecting public lands.
The Forest Service manages all the National Forests, where extensive bikepacking takes place in most every region of the United States (to learn more about the history of Forest Service lands, check out our public lands history article). Whenever the Forest Service makes a decision that significantly affects these lands or our access to them, the agency is required to seek input from us, the public. The law that guarantees our opportunity to tell the Forest Service what we think is called the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
The Forest Service is currently revising the regulations it uses to implement NEPA. As part of this revision, the agency wants to get rid of the Scoping phase of public input for projects that require an Environmental Assessment or that fall into a Categorical Exclusion. Basically, this means the agency wants to eliminate the initial phase of public input from certain types of projects, types of projects that are already streamlined compared to larger and more drawn out decisions that require a full environmental impact study.
That may not sound like much, but Scoping is particularly important. Scoping is often when we learn about projects. Scoping also gives us the chance to tell the Forest Service what we know and what we want at the very beginning of the process.
Somewhat ironically, the Forest Service is looking for public input on its proposal to eliminate public input. This is our chance to tell the agency why public input matters and why getting rid of it is a bad idea. Bikepacking Roots encourages you to learn more and submit a comment at https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/revisions/index.shtml
Comments are due August 26, 2019. The Forest Service really notices unique comments, so make your comments your own. Here are a couple of points you can use:
Bikepacking Roots' Wild West Route (WWR) showcases the wild and public lands of the American West. At more than 2,700 miles in length, the WWR is among the longest bikepacking routes in the world. It's development involved collaboration with public lands managers, private landowners, Navajo Nation Department of Parks and Recreation, and 50+ bikepackers.
The WWR is more than 80% dirt, ranging from graded gravel to seldom-traveled dirt roads to rough 4x4 tracks. It offers bikepackers a remote, rugged, expedition-scale riding experience balanced with resupply options in small communities generally spaced a few days apart. Nearly 70% of the WWR's length is on public lands, passing through 18 National Forests, 6 National Parks and Monuments, 4 areas with BLM National Conservation Lands designation, and 2 tribal parks.
Bikepacking Roots is proud to offer a suite of resources for the route, including a comprehensive 82-page print or digital route guidebook with maps and conservation/public lands educational content, GPS data for navigation with ~1500 waypoints (services, water, campgrounds, etc.), and a smartphone app.
Our mission at Bikepacking Roots is to advocate for the bikepacking experience and for the landscapes through which we ride. As such, we have been soliciting comments regarding the ongoing threats to the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the federal agency that manages the monument, is seeking comments between now and November 30, 2018 on a draft management plan and environmental impact statement (you can view the plan and other documents here or download a PDF of it here).
In December 2017 President Trump unlawfully slashed Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Proclamation 9682. It is currently in court and should be overturned as the Antiquities Act only grants a president the authority to designate national monuments, not to revoke or diminish them. Meanwhile, the BLM has moved forward with passing a new management plan for the shrunken monument and the lands now outside of the monument. The plan proposes four management scenarios, or “Alternatives”, of which the agency has identified Alternative D as the “Preferred Alternative.” Alternative D poses substantial threat to the future of the lands that GSENM house, and should be a concern for bikepackers.
To ensure a future for bikepacking, recreating, learning, and preserved landscape within GSENM, please submit a comment to the BLM identifying one or a couple points outlined below that you are not in support of and why it personally matters to you. A story or anecdote is extremely valuable to include in your comments, and specific references to chapter/section numbers is a critical part of your comment (see our talking point suggestions below)
How to submit your comment
You can also mail a hard copy to:
Bureau of Land Management
Attn: Matt Betenson
669 S Hwy 89A
Kanab, UT, 84741.
And email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking the time to advocate for bikepacking and the landscapes through which we ride.
Concerns and recommended talking points
Here we take you through the points of concern in the Preferred Alternative and the impacts these changes may have.
Note that the law requires that National Monuments be managed to protect the resources for which they were designated; GSENM was designated a National Monument for its paleontological resources and spectacular geology, clear air and dark skies, cultural significance and archeological sites, and extensive biological soil crusts.
The “Preferred Alternative” or “Alternative D” presented in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Kanab-Escalante Planning Area Draft Resource Management Plans and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) present the following management "solutions" that are of concern to us, as bikepackers and advocates of healthy landscapes.
Chapter 2, section 3.13
Mineral leasing for oil/gas/geothermal, Alternative D (Preferred Alternative) opens nearly all of the lands removed from monument status by the president to oil gas and coal development.
Chapter 2, section 3.14
Plan D opens up lands to cross-country off-road vehicle play and increases the number of legal off-road vehicle routes in the backcountry.
Chapter 2, section 3.71
When outlining management of vegetation, destruction of native piñon-juniper forest for range improvement to support increased cattle grazing
Chapter 2, section 3.12
Increased cattle grazing will have a detrimental impact to the biological soil crusts of GSENM lands; reduced biological soil crust coverage will decrease air quality as dust is increased.
Chapter 2, section 3.5
The Preferred Alternative calls for allowing “casual collection” of fossils by anyone. This would legalize the removal of any fossils by anyone, opening up the risk of rare specimens being removed from GSENM.
Alternative D presents a management plan that dramatically reduces protection of landscape and would have a notable impact on the quality of bikepacking experience and opportunity in GSENM. Opening the landscape to mineral extraction would increase traffic, noise, and developed landscape. Increasing logging of native and old-growth piñon-juniper forest for rangeland improvements would transform the riding experience from forest habitat to rangeland inhabited by cattle. Allowing cross-country off-road travel would trample vegetation and develop unregulated roads, and have the affiliated traffic. Lifting protection of paleontogical sites and resources would result in the irreversible loss of opportunity for science and education that is preserved in the GSENM geologic story.
Bikepacking Roots has established two long-distance bikepacking routes that visit GSENM (the Plateau Passage and the Wild West Route). The reasons that inspired the initial designation of Monument status are congruent with the reasons we as bikepackers seek backcountry travel by bike through GSENM. The entire planning area is one of the most scenically pristine areas in the United States, including for nighttime dark skies. We value clean air to breathe, and dark skies to sleep under. Many of us live in parts of the country where this is not an option, and bikepacking across this landscape provides a rare and valuable opportunity. As bikepackers, we value the opportunity to ride through open, wild landscapes with minimal human development. GSENM as managed as a monument offers rare opportunity for solitude, remote travel, and healthy, minimally impacted landscape.
Ultimately, the Preferred Plan dramatically reduces protection of the resources integral to the health and future of the GSENM lands; this poses a notable threat to the future of this landscape and our bikepacking opportunity for generations to come.
In your comments, also identify what you urge the BLM to consider, a couple options that would be in the best interest of the monument and bikepacking experience are:
|Bikepacking Roots -- Explore. Inform. Connect. Conserve.||
News and updates
All content and route data copyright 2016-19 Bikepacking Roots
Bikepacking Roots is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization (EIN 81-2622394)
Bikepacking Roots is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization (EIN 81-2622394)