Dems say fat chance that fat tires will tread on federal wilderness areas
Author: Dan Njegomir - December 28, 2017 - Updated: December 28, 2017
Doesn’t matter that Republicans control both the U.S. House and (just barely) the Senate; minority Democrats are convinced a GOP bill that would allow mountain bikes inside federally designated wilderness areas, including Colorado’s, is going nowhere. That’s despite the bill’s passage Wednesday on a near-party-line vote by the House Committee on Natural Resources, reports the Aspen Daily News. (Hat tip to Colorado Peak Politics for pointing us to the story.) Here’s more:
The bill, HR 1349, introduced last March by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), specifically states that it would “amend the Wilderness Act to ensure that the use of bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers and game carts is not prohibited in Wilderness Areas.”
Right now, able-bodied nature lovers are pretty much confined to hiking under the rules governing wilderness access; Democrats say wheelchairs already are allowed for the disabled.
And this is one time when the two parties aren’t splitting hairs or mincing words about their support for, or opposition to a policy. It’s flat-out, fundamentally philosophical:
“…We don’t believe bicycles belong in wilderness areas. That was the crux of the bill,” said Adam Sarvana, communications director for the committee’s Democrats. And Sarvana seemed pretty confident the ban on bikes isn’t going away anytime soon. As reported by the Daily Times:
“GOP leadership has to decide whether to bring this up for a vote of the full House, which we don’t expect to happen,” Sarvana said. “It’s not a priority for Speaker [Paul] Ryan, as far as we can tell.”
Sarvana said that’s not the only obstacle facing HR 1349.
“If it makes it out of the House it has almost no chance in the Senate,” he said. “There aren’t 60 votes for this as a stand-alone bill, and a Democratic senator would certainly filibuster it.”
Colorado contains over 3.5 million acres of federally protected wilderness spread across 41 distinct wilderness areas, according to the website Colorado’s Wild Areas.
Colorado’s Third Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton had to miss the committee vote due to a scheduling conflict, the Daily News reported.