To Whom it May Concern

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TDM and the W Pony contemplating Windy Lakes majesty on an overnight circuit…a rare  singletrack opportunity in this or any state of the union, and something now threatened.

There is a well-intended proposal for a new wilderness boundary with the Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal.  This current proposal may eliminate 233 miles of premium MTB single track in our back yard.  Most notably, the Lake Timpanogas area, Upper Middle Fork, Umpqua River Trail and the Rogue River Trail.   

The Trans-Cascadia  non-profit organization is acting as a vehicle to gather thoughts and opinions and get them to the right people, and TDM is 200% behind them on this.

If the loss of trails like the Umpqua Trail is something you would like to raise your voice about, TheDirtMagnet staff would like to salute you, and then provide these links to get involved.  Also helpful: post links on your social media and get word out there!

Please complete this  5 minute survey to help with this effort!

You might want to consult this list of trails and\or this map.  There are a bunch of classics on this list folks!

Below are my thoughts on the issue…a bit less TDM persona than usual, but…important

To Whom it May Concern

I am an Oregon Native who has been raised with conservation and wild places in the forefront of my personal and family life.  After living abroad for many years I returned to Oregon because of my love for many places and activities found here.   Despite the many rewarding opportunities I have turned down to live here, I would make this choice again.   These interests permeate everything in my life…my career is in the conservation field, and then on weekends I hike, fish, kayak, hunt, surf, and bike in areas that rival the best in the country for each pursuit and interest.  I do this alone, and with friends and family.  Sometimes these activities are large scale adventures, while other times they involve tiny outings with kids, my elders, or friends for whom these types of activities are new.  To me, the strength of this state has always been found in the balance of things.  We have one of the highest ratios of wilderness per square mile in the union…a fact that I have celebrated, fought for and enjoyed for all of my 48 years.  But we also have areas which are backcountry and wild by nature, yet remain accessible to a wider variety of uses and users.  I value these lands in equal parts, and for different reasons.

In recent years I have increasingly become aware of the amazing resources Oregon has available for mountain biking, and exploring both new and familiar spaces on a bike has become a large part of my personal and family life.  While there are a  number of trails open to bikes in the state, it is the trails which have a backcountry and/or high cascades aesthetic which have the most appeal for myself and many of my friends.  These trails are in much higher abundance in the southern half of the Oregon Cascades than almost anywhere else in the country, and they are not only a state treasure, but a national and international jewel, as demonstrated by the many foreign friends I have met in these places.  While there may be more of these trails found in this area than in the majority of other places, they are still a rare commodity.  This is part of why these trails are known internationally, and picked by cyclists from around the globe (and region) as their next vacation destination or annual pilgrimage.

While I can relate strongly to the desire to conserve these wonderful areas as a part of a designation that might protect them from various future threats, to me I find a greater risk in losing the balance of different types of engagement in the Oregon I love.  We have so much to share in this state, but ruling out one of the fastest growing and most proactive user groups frequenting these areas strikes me as short-sighted.  If these trails were not so beloved and perfectly suited to bike use I would likely not bother to protest, but in this case, many of these trails are among the finest and most well-loved cycling trails in North America, offering long sections of rare beauty, adventure and all with relatively easy access.  In particular the Umpqua Trail, The Brown mtn. loop, the upper Middle Fork Willamette trail, and the trails in the area of Timpanogas and Windy Lakes are considered iconic sections of trail in the world of mountain biking, recognized on every continent as reasons in themselves for visiting Oregon.

On a more personal note, the loss of bike access to these trails would be a tremendous blow to myself and my family and friends.  The fact that these trails can be linked together to create a huge variety of bike-packing options is one type of loss (as this characteristic is extremely rare, even in Oregon), but also I would lose the chance to explore areas on a bike that I might not otherwise venture…as an example I would not bother to use or recommend use of the Umpqua trail to hikers, as there are other locations nearby offering traits better suited to backpacking or day hikes. But on a bike…there are few trails in the world that I could recommend more, and I return annualy because of that. As it is I hope to someday visit nearly every trail on this list on my bike someday, and that is many years’ worth of weekends away where I get to stay in-state.  If these trails were to be lost to bike use, I would likely visit only a handful of these, and my current interest and engagement in these areas would fade quickly, lost to other places (of much lower quality) that allow me to occasionally ride my bike.

In my perfect life there are places and times for backpacking, horsepacking, and venturing into declared wilderness. In this same perfect life there are places and times where I might ride my bike on wild trails as well.  These two dreams need not occupy the same space and time, but as it is right now, they coexist in my home state, and I and my friends and family would be crushed if it were otherwise.

Regards, TheDirtMagnet

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2 thoughts on “To Whom it May Concern

  1. SB66

    Beautifuly written. Please send that to the Middle Fork District Ranger, Duane Bishop 46375 Highway 58 Westfir, OR 97492

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  2. A.P.R.

    “Wilderness,” as it is currently understood in North America, is a literary construct, a Euro-American invention. In practice, it is an artifact of genocide. This continent has been occupied and its ecosystems modified by, and for, human beings for about 15,000 years. The population explosion and crash of some prey species (the passenger pigeon, for example) can be directly attributed to the elimination of the original apex predator and keystone species, the native American Indian. Please read “Wilderness and Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences and the Original State of Nature,” Kay and Simmons, editors, for a scientific review of the evidence. The Wilderness Act intended to set aside roadless, non-motorized wildland recreation areas. Humans were never intended to be excluded, just motors and visible infrastructure. If we want to exclude humans, the National Wildlife Refuge designation can do this. Read the fine print at the end of the Wilderness Act. It allows the construction of dams, waterways, power transmission lines and the roads to service these facilities, if they serve the “greater good.” The Wilderness Act is a piece of legislation, not the gospels of Wordsworth, Thoreau, Muir, Leopold, and Abbey. The Wilderness Act is poorly named. Advocates read the title and stop right there, never reaching the end. It should be called “The Roadless Wildlands Recreation Act.”

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