Sunday, March 19, 2017

designed for failure

The Sustainable Trails Coalition was formed, supposedly, to fix the misunderstanding of "mechanized transport" as that phrase exists in Wilderness legislation.

However, instead of focusing on the problem --- an unsupported yet consistent allegation by US Forest Service/US Dept of Agriculture personnel and their assigned US Attorneys in which "mechanized" only bans bicycles and not nordic or alpine ski gear, nor any other mechanical assistance used by Wilderness travelers -- the brilliant team of strategists at STC have decided to pursue a piece of legislation instead.


Doubtless this proposed bill will have co-sponsors within a handful of Senators from among the 100 total in the Congress.  Grease enough palms and you'll get a wobbly "Yea" from those who perceive their wallets have been rendered marginally thicker.

But how will it play out in the Congress?  When was the last time the Congress admitted that it made an error 52 years ago and rectified that error with full passage of a separate piece of legislation, especially when that newer legislation doesn't correct the error identified?

Please feel free to offer your proofs.


The long-standing misinterpretation of "mechanized" is so durable that even the pseudo-authority Wikipedia follows the misinterpretation:

Additionally, areas considered as Wilderness should have no enterprises within them or any motorized/mechanized devices (e.g.; vehicles, motorbikes, or bicycles).

You will not find any statement within the Wilderness Act that explicitly prohibits bicycles while explicitly allowing nordic, randonnee or alpine ski gear.  You will not find any statement explicitly allowing winter Wilderness travel using such ski gear with a pulk.

You will not find anything which endorses the misinterpretation consistently offered as the real, honest understanding of the Wilderness Act.


The point of creating official Wilderness was and is to prohibit development of a sort which changes the "wilderness" into Just Another Place in McAmerica with McMansions and McStarbucks and McChipotle and McLuxury Suites.

The point was to preserve the land as it was, or as close thereto as possible, when the USA was founded.

But we have a few problems here.

Horses, and the mechanical means used by humans to ride them, are not prohibited from Wilderness travel.  In the Bob Marshall Wilderness found in the state of Montana, multi-animal pack trains of horses (and sometimes mules) have turned portions of the "trails" running through that Wilderness into what essentially are pockmarked, hammered, vegetation-free highways.  The fact that they are not paved with concrete, asphalt, macadam or crushed gravel doesn't make them any less modern or less antithetical to primitive "wilderness."  In the 1800s, the area now known as the Bob Marshall Wilderness was not a hotbed of horse riding traffic jams with attendant defoliation of a sort normally achieved through judicious application of Agent Orange.


The erosion caused by loss of vegetation is well known among fisheries biologists who study humankind's impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

If the point of Wilderness is preservation of an untrammeled, relatively pristine ecosystem, then we've got a big problem with consistently ramping-up (in recent decades, that is) horse-based travel in places like the Bob Marshall.

And that doesn't even reach the issue of immediately adjacent commercial development, which hastens the user impacts by making access to the Wilderness that much easier.

It also doesn't even begin to confront the real problem:  USFS/USDA/USAG personnel reading "mechanized" as prohibiting bicycles while allowing other mechanical assistance.


Be sure to BOOST the STC's profile and work, "industry" bro.

Since you don't know jack shit on the subject.

Hell, even Kevin "kidwoo" Bazar doesn't know jack shit on this subject, and he's your fucking go-to guy for everything.

--Charles F. Oxtrot, who knows more in this field than every single scrivener he's read.

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