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Opinion: Mountain bikers are not asking for access to all wilderness trails

Mountain bikers ride down a trail at Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake, Calif. The ski resort runs a mountain bike park in the summer.
(Big Bear Mountain Resorts)

To the editor: I was disappointed in your Jan. 3 editorial “Keep mountain bikes out of wilderness areas,” as it misrepresents HR 1349 by claiming that the bill would “allow mountain bikers to cruise through the approximately 109 million acres of land designated as wilderness.”

Rather, the bill would allow the local land manager, at his or her discretion, to decide whether to allow bikes on wilderness trails based on the characteristics of the land and its historic usage.

We mountain bikers are particularly concerned about National Forest Service land with a long history of responsible mountain bike access. When such land is designated as wilderness, we applaud the extra protection against motor vehicles and logging but fear losing historic mountain bike access.

Also, we are concerned about small wilderness areas that separate larger nonwilderness areas that have long-established mountain bike access.

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Ross Finlayson, Mountain View, Calif.

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To the editor: Thank you for opposing bikes in wilderness areas.

Bikes are not only damaging to the environment, they also go a lot faster than humans and pose a serious risk. As a horse rider, I do not want a cyclist to whip around a switchback on a narrow trail and crash into me. Hikers also face a similar danger when they share a trail with mountain bikers.

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Horses and mules are used not only for the enjoyment of riding, but also for the necessary transportation they provide to trail maintenance crews that need special equipment.

Carol May, North Hills

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To the editor: This editorial uses the term “fake news” to describe the distortion by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) of the Wilderness Act’s ban on mechanical transport. This term was co-opted by the Trump campaign to impugn the honesty of our national news media.

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The news of McClintock’s position is not fake. What is fake is McClintock’s dissembling, which should be reported as a distortion or a lie.

The use of President Trump’s favored term here helps to propagate it as a meme and should be avoided. The term “fake news” should not be allowed to infiltrate our language when referring to the media’s honest reporting of a politician’s dishonesty.

Alfred Sils, Woodland Hills

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