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Decades of Adventure: The White Rim

View of Washer Woman formation on the White Rim trail, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah.

A Biking Legacy: The White Rim Trail

There are very few established mountain bike routes that are as well known as the White Rim. For good reason, this iconic ride has been in the hearts and minds of mountain bikers for decades. But why? What draws riders here season after season? Here is a quick history to put this biking legacy into context.

The National Park system has been one of the keystone aspects of land conservation in the United States. The White Rim is nestled within the heart of Canyonlands National Park and crosses a 190 square mile piece of conservation history. To be able to ride through this place is truly unique. Around each canyon bend, up and down every wash the rider will wonder, “Has anyone ever stepped foot here?” The remote nature of this place is at the forefront of each visitors mind.

Interested in the MAP of the White Rim?

Hikers on the trail to Fort Bottom ruins from the White Rim trail near Moab, Utah. Canyonlands National Park.

“Not only is the mere beauty of the landscape something to savor, but the geologic history is something to ponder”

Anyone who steps foot on the White Rim cannot help but wonder how the canyons have developed. Not only is the mere beauty of the landscape something to savor, but the geologic history is something to ponder. Layers and layers of rock have been carved and shaped by water and wind over the millennia. Bikers are given a front row seat to this story because their tires are rolling across the most prominent piece of this history: the White Rim layer of sandstone. This layer of stone is much harder than other layers and therefore erosion of this rock happens at a much slower pace. Some moments can feel almost effortless and others are quite slow going, but every biker can appreciate the experience of riding across this unique surface.

Here is a VISUAL AID for the layers of sandstone found in the Canyonlands National Park

Mountain biker on the White Rim trail, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah.

“The undeniably rugged nature of the trail holds years of history and travelers cannot help but tap into that history while passing through.”

Evidence of the humans that inhabited these canyons for centuries can be witnessed along the trail. Ancestral Puebloan rock art and dwellings are scattered among the cliffs and canyons. As Westerners came to the region this area was used for winter cattle grazing before it was designated a national park. Riders will notice that many of the names come from those early ranching days and bear the names of the families that grazed their cattle in the canyons and mesas of the region. However, the White Rim Trail wasn’t created by ranchers. It was blasted and carved out of the canyons by uranium miners during the 1950s when the nuclear arms race was in full swing. The undeniably rugged nature of the trail holds years of history and travelers cannot help but tap into that history while passing through.

Camp along the White Rim trail, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah.

“Outfitters like Western Spirit have been guiding people around the White Rim since the early days of mountain biking.”

Outfitters like Western Spirit have been guiding people around the White Rim since the early days of mountain biking. Year after year people continue to pursue this adventure. Endurance cyclists circumnavigate the 80-mile trail in as fast as 1 day, but most riders choose to ride in 4 days to allow for ample time to experience the awe and wonder of this place. Each campsite has something unique to offer such as side hikes, new vistas, and places to explore. The wildness and remote nature of this place quickly draws you out of everyday life and into something very new and different. Many of our guests who rode the White Rim back in the 1990s have returned with their children, spouses or friends to share the cherished adventure.

Every bike ride has the potential to be great, but by reaching out for new experiences and adventures we can re-inspire our lives. The White Rim offers this type of adventure and for this reason it will continue to inspire more and more bikers throughout history.

Ride the White Rim with us.

Mountain bikers on the White Rim trail, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah.

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What is Outerbike?

With Spring Outerbike right around the corner we thought we’d share a little Outerbike history.  Outerbike is a consumer demo event dedicated to helping riders pick their next bike. It was founded by Western Spirit owners Ashely Korenblat & Mark Sevenoff of Moab, Utah. With changes in sales channels and continual improvements in design and technology, todays cyclists want to try new products and test ride bikes on real trails before they purchase.

For the first several years Outerbike took place each October at the MOAB Brands Trailhead. A few years later a spring event was added and then a summer venue in Whistler, BC followed by Crested Butte, Colorado.

The 2018 Outerbike schedule will be: Moab Spring Outerbike 4/6-8 Crested Butte Outerbike 8/17-8/19 Moab Fall Outerbike 10/5-10/7 Bentonville Outerbike 10/26-28

In 2018 Western Spirit will be partnering with the OZ Trails to bring Outerbike to Bentonville.  “The riding in Northwest Arkansas is truly world class and the OZ trails are a perfect place to test your dream bike” says Mark Sevenoff. 

“Outerbike is focused on one thing: providing world class demo opportunities for riders. We are working to give riders across the country a chance to get in on the action, and the amazing OZ Trails in Bentonville will be a great compliment to Outerbike in Crested Butte and Moab.” said Ashley Korenblat, CEO, Western Spirit Cycling. “By adding new dates and locations, more cyclists will have the chance to try before they buy and meet the companies directly.”

Outerbike events so far have attracted riders from all 50 states and 8 foreign countries. Cyclists start lining up at 7am  for the 9am Le Mans-style start into the exhibit area, and while the morning dash to the bikes is thrilling—before the weekend is over, everyone will have had a chance to try a wide variety of models. Several trails right from the Outerbike venues give riders a chance to compare bikes back to back on the same trails, while additional rides on nearby purpose built singletrack take place each day via shuttles.  In Crested Butte the chairlift starts spinning at 9am taking riders to the top to access the Evolution Bike Park and trails beyond.  Lunch is served to exhibitors and attendees under the big tent from Outerbike chef Ken Moody. Friday and Saturday’s beer garden is brought to you by our friends at the Moab Brewery ,Upslope Brewery  & Bike Rack Brewing.

Scot Nicol, of Ibis Cycles said, “Ibis has participated in every Outerbike since its inception. Outerbike is the perfect storm for manufacturers who want riders to try their bikes in real-world conditions that are essential to evaluating a bike’s capabilities. Held in world renown cycling destinations, Outerbike is not only fun, it provides an easy upgrade path for riders to determine which dream bike is going to be next for them. The format allows for test rides that are long enough and with enough varied terrain for a legitimate test. Customers frequently validate our participation by telling us ‘I bought my Ibis after test riding it at Outerbike’.”

“I know a great event and vibe when I see it. From the beginning Outerbike has manage to keep it all about riders who want to demo bikes. Outerbike is the best. There are other great independent events but few/none of them are as consistent year over year,” said Jordan Huckee from Orbea.

“The location!! Outerbike always does a great job of organization and the Crested Butte venue was icing on the cake!” said Tristan Brandt, Demo Coordinator, Pivot Cycles.

“We love the Outerbike events. They stand alone as a way for us to work directly with consumers. Outerbike is our favorite event,” says Ken Miner, Director of Sales Haibike USA. 

For more information, or to speak with Mark Sevenoff Contact: mark@westernspirit.com, 435-259-8732 .

Western Spirit Cycling is headquartered in Moab, UT, and runs multi-day bicycle tours and outdoor events on beautiful public lands throughout the country. Our trips cover a life-time of bucket list destinations whether you’re a first time beginner or a hard core expert. “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!”

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This season sees the Western Spirit guides putting 100%’s line of cutting-edge eyewear through its paces while guiding. While on the bike, 100% sport performance models such as Speedcraft and Speedcoupe will offer the clarity and protection our guides demand. “We’re stoked to bring new insights into the performance needs of our guides and guests and offer a refreshing perspective on the evolution of trail riding” says Western Spirit owner/guide Mark Sevenoff. “The guides are the heart and soul of our company and demand the very best. They’re outside seven days a week in the most extreme conditions you can imagine.” When traveling the West, or back at camp, they’ll be sporting active lifestyle models including the Centric & Type-S sunglasses.

About Western Spirit

Western Spirit is a cycling company who organizes road and mountain biking trips in our National Parks, National Forests and BLM lands. The trips range from mellow family-style outings to 5-day package rides above 10,000 feet on world-class single track. They also run product launches, press events and team building trips for corporations interested in giving their employees and corporate partners a challenging bike experience that will be both emotional and physical. It’s all about connecting people with their equipment, the trail, their guides and themselves.

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About 100%

The roots of 100% date back to the early 1980’s, when the popular logo graced the jerseys of the biggest stars in motocross. Thirty years later, the passion for the Spirit of Racing is greater than ever, being now an influential icon in mountain biking and cycling that inspires a whole new generation of racers, still asking them, “How much effort do you give?”

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Bike Love – Part 1

I have seen bike love in many forms.  When I was 27, I became the president of a small company called Merlin.  I’d just graduated from business school and put everything I learned to work.  I had to order titanium in the same quantities as Boeing, six months in advance.  To do this I had to raise private capital and create a board of directors who were committed to cycling.

At the time, Merlin made arguably the best bikes int he world and for about five years we simply could not keep up with the orders.  People sent us photos of the Merlin logo tattooed on various parts of their bodies.  While I was flattered by their devotion, I have to admit the photos were kind of frightening.

I briefly dated a professional tennis player.  We were at a party once and two men in their fifties found out I was the president of Merlin.  They walked over, got down on their knees and bowed before me.  My date was not impressed – what was I thinking, dating a tennis player?

After half a decade at Merlin I was ready for a new challenge, and Saucony, the shoe company, offered to buy the company.  Hoping I had left it in good hands, I moved to Moab to run Western Spirit Cycling.  My focus was no longer the bike itself, but where to ride it.

We run multi-day trips in the national park and forests.  Many riders return year after year and so the pressure is on us to always find new places to explore.  The trips range from fun and cruisey to five days above 10,000ft, and we have a very wide range of people, from core cyclists who have all the skills and fitness to those who really only ride once a year with us.

About half bring their own bikes.  Sometimes when they arrive before a trip, the mechanic shakes his head.  These bikes have been loved too much.  We do worry that the bike won’t make it through the week, but we don’t want to tell the customer.  So we just throw another spare on the support truck and hope for the best.  The price of the bike has nothing to do with how much a person loves their ride.

When riders arrive they are usually a bit pale and nervous, wondering what they have got themselves into.  When they return, they are glowing and it is not just the dirt or the sunburn.  The trip has given them at the chance to reconnect with themselves, the planet and the bike.

And then we came up with the idea of Outerbike, a demo event for consumers.  The bike manufacturers all build their new models for the autumn trade show in Las Vegas, but the public are not allowed to attend, and while you occasionally find a demo truck at a trailhead ro at big races, there really isn’t anywhere you can test out bikes on real trails.  So when the Bar M trails were built in Moab – a classic stacked loop system with 10 to 15 miles of beginner, intermediate and expert trails, all from one starting point – we knew it was perfect for Outerbike.

At the first Outerbike in 2010, several hundred people showed up.  At the second this autumn, it was over the top.  It was 40°C and raining but by 7:30am there was a line to get into the demo area, which didn’t open util 9am.  I was a bit worried that folks would be grumpy about waiting but when we opened the gates, they ran to the booths hooting and hollering.  It was bike love in the form of 800 people charging through the desert in the rain.

I wonder what form it will turn up in next.

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Happy 2018 and welcome to a new year! We’re entering our 28th year in business based out of the mountain bike mecca of Moab, UT and have some great new things to share with you.

To start with we’d like to welcome two new employees to our office team. Many of you remember Eric Donley one of our senior guides from a few years back. Eric and his fiance moved down to Moab this fall and he will be helping to spearhead our sales and marketing team while doing a bit of guest guiding. If he happens to pick up the phone when you call you’ll be immediately at ease with his calm demeanor and friendly voice. Not to mention his keen knowledge of all our trips from his years in the backcountry.

Our amazing Operations Director Don Wiseman retired this December making room for Scott Greiner to fill his shoes. Scott moved here from Reno, NV and brings with him a wealth of experience from both guiding and organizational work in the adventure travel industry. We couldn’t be happier with our crew, but that’s not all. We’re also in the midst of a website refresh so in the next month be on the lookout for a fresh look and some exciting new online offerings.

On the physical side, we’re proud to continue our long-running partnership with Specialized bikes for the 17th season and will be upgrading our fleet to the 2018 Camber Comp for all mountain bike rentals. Just like some of the pro peloton, we’ll be running disk brakes on our all carbon Specialized Roubaixs this year as well. The Roubaix provides you with the tools you need to explore the road less traveled and we’re confident you’re going to love them.

On the vehicle side, we’re adding two more 15 passenger Ford Transit E350s to our growing fleet. After investing in two a few years back, we’re convinced they’re more comfortable, safer, easier to drive and with the twin turbo Ecoboost motor, even more powerful than our old V-10’s (thinking of a fully loaded trip climbing 7,000′ up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon). For our guests that just means you get to the trails in more comfort and more safely than ever before. We’ve been with Ford now for over 25 years and they like us so much they even featured us in a commercial last year!

Enough bragging for now, but you’ll be hearing more from us rest assured:) While there’s snow on the ground in Moab right now, it will all be melted before you know it and we’ll be gearing up for spring trips down south. Hope to ride with you this year and share some time around the campfire.

Cheers,

Mark Sevenoff

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2017 Western Spirit Holiday Gift Guide

It’s the holidays and here at Western Spirit, we want to help you shop for any cyclist on your list with a handy little gift guide. These are things that have been tried-and-true tested by our guides and get two thumbs up. Our guides are on their bikes every day during the season and definitely push a lot of products to the limit. Check these gifts out and Happy Holidays!

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  1.   Giro Chronicle MIPS Helmet – $75 – giro.com

This helmet from Giro is a good balance between price and features. It’s also the helmet our guides chose to wear. This dome cover is low weight and its numerous vents keep you cool in the warmest conditions. Trust us, our guides wore this helmet every day all summer and were stoked on how well it preformed. Plus, it was designed with MIPS which helps redirect impact energy to provide more protection during certain impacts.

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2.   Camelbak Kudu 18 – $225 – camelback.com

This 18-liter pack has all the bells and whistles, plus plenty of storage for a rain layer, snacks, tube, and repair supplies. Adding in CE-certified back protection makes this the go-to pack for all of our guides. A three-liter water reservoir also means you have plenty of water for an entire day on the bike.

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3.   Sram GX Eagle Drivetrain – $499 – sram.com

The Sram GX Eagle is amazing. Twelve speeds, 500% gear range, and no front derailleur. Sram Eagle drivetrains pack in so many features to make your ride great. X-Sync2 chainrings with its new tooth profile increase chain retention and overall pedaling efficiency, while decreasing friction, noise, and wear. The 500% gear range make sure you always have the gear you are looking for. It’s amazing, just ask any of our guides who rode it for the entire 2017 season!

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4.   G-from Pro-X Knee Pads – $70 – g-form.com

Another guide favorite here! The Pro-X knee is a great pad. It’s lightweight, has quite a bit of protection, and a mesh back for breathability. Add all that together, and you have a knee pad that is comfy enough to wear all day on the bike.

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5.   Western Spirit bike trip – $950-2550 – westernspirit.com

Did you really think we would do a list of things a cyclist would want for Christmas without putting a Western Spirit trip on it? A trip with us is the ultimate gift! A week of riding, camping, and great food! What’s not to love? Our guides take care of all the heavy lifting so you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy your cycling vacation. Want to see stars like the ones in this photo? Check out our White Rim Bike Trip. It’s a classic that takes place right in Western Spirit’s backyard: Canyonlands National Park. Its a must-do for any cyclist.
 
So there you have it! Five ideas for any cyclist on your list this holiday season.
-Happy Hoildays from our team at Western Spirit Cycling Adventures.

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The following blog post is from a Guest on a trip. We wanted to feature it as it answers a few questions that we get quite a bit. We hope you enjoy. 

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My family is very choosey about vacations.  As our three boys get older, it is harder and harder to find a time when we can all be together. Between school, college, sailing, skiing, and all the other activities we do over the year, finding time for a bike trip was a serious challenge.

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When we settled on a week that worked for everyone, the folks at Western Spirit suggested biking the Black Hills in South Dakota. I have never even thought about going to South Dakota and it was definitely not on my bucket list. Still, I listened to the folks at  Western Spirit about riding though the forest and camping on some beautiful lakes and decided the combo of nature’s beauty, exercise, and great food might be just the family vacation we needed.  Plus, the whole trip is at a reasonable altitude–compared to Colorado or other famous out-west destinations – so I was pretty sure everyone would enjoy the biking.

There was the uncertainty of the other people on the trip…I wasn’t at all sure I wanted strangers joining us on vacation.  We had done a couple Western Spirit trips before, but they were private trips, so we knew everyone already. This was the biggest and best surprise of all. We thoroughly enjoyed the other folks we met on our trip.

_DSC2714.jpgBottom line, on a scale of 1 to 10, the trip was a 12. The guides Chris Abell and Terrin Frey made it easy, fun, relaxing and, well, just tremendous!  The riding was a nicely balanced combination of cruisey downhills and nice climbs. The camps were in great spots with easy access to the lakes.  Our family goes boating all the time, but there was something especially fun about the trip across the lake on the party barge.

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This trip was all about being outside, getting exercise, laughing, smiling and being grateful to have the chance to be in a gorgeous part of the world with my family and other fun, interesting people. Further, I had no responsibilities—I didn’t have to think about what time it was, when I needed to start dinner (or breakfast or lunch!), if the boat had gas, whether the gears on my bike would work smoothly—I just got to enjoy my husband and sons, pedal my heart out and kick back.

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How Monuments Create Jobs.

Cyclist in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument 

President Trump’s Executive Order on the Antiquities Act calls for a review of the national monuments designated over the last 20 years. As an outdoor business owner, I have had a front row seat for many of these monument designations and have seen the on the ground impacts.

In many cases local residents and stakeholders from mountain bikers to energy companies to environmental advocates began the process of updating plans for their public lands by asking for new laws. People worked together to understand each others goals and craft public land legislation that would protect key areas for conservation and recreation, while leaving other places available for development of oil, gas, and mining. And after all the blood, sweat, and tears of negotiating a deal, many communities in the last 20 years were stymied when congress failed to pass their bills.

Hell’s Backbone Grill at the Boulder Mtn Lodge feeds hungry people visiting the surrounding National Parks and National Monuments 

You can’t really blame folks if they turned to the President and requested an administrative action in the form of a National Monument Proclamation to achieve virtually the same goals they were seeking through public land legislation.  President Trump’s review will find that many communities are quite happy with their National Monuments, not only are they benefiting from outdoor recreation visitors, but they are seeing steady economic growth through new and diverse businesses who want to locate near America’s great outdoors.  Competition for top talent is tight, and if you can boast access to everything from hiking and paddling to jeeping, hunting and fishing, plus treasured cultural resources and uniquely American landscapes, your community—and the businesses that locate there— have a competitive advantage.


Pictographs in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.

In reviewing these monuments, Secretary Zinke is also going to find a few places where people aren’t so happy, and while they are quick to complain about their public land managers, the real source of the problem has little to do with federal land ownership or monument designations. Macro economic forces and technological advances of the 21st century are playing out in commodity prices, and extractive industry jobs are disappearing on both public and private lands, while county budgets suffer due to sharply decreasing mineral royalties.

Western Spirit Cycling Adventures was started to run trips in Canyonlands National Park and today runs trips all thought out many of the country’s National Parks and National Monuments.

Meanwhile, the outdoor recreation industry continues to see steady growth generating $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs.  America has a proud history of self sufficiency through living off the land, and our ranchers and coal miners have been major contributors to our country’s progress. Key leaders in congress are trying to find ways to honor this heritage. Pivoting to recreation economy jobs in product design, manufacturing, or retail can be challenging. For that matter, just getting along with the new neighbors can be hard. Change is never easy, but rolling back the clock is downright impossible.


Lower Calf Creek Falls – Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument.

Monument designations jump start recreation economies and bring a wide array of reliable and growing business opportunities to rural residents and their children. This change is playing out in communities across the country whose economic development strategies are paying off precisely because they have set aside public land in its natural state for outdoor recreation.

Riders enjoying the incredible views the National Monument has to offer 

If the President wishes to honor his promise to those who have lost their jobs in coal country and other rural areas that have been hurt by a changing economy, he should maintain all of America’s existing monuments, and use the powers of the Antiquities Act to create new ones.

 

Ashley Korenblat is CEO of Western Spirit Cycling in Moab, UT, and a Managing Director at Public Land Solutions

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Important Public Land Designations: Wilderness and National Monuments

In Part 1 of our public land series we clarified the three major federal land managers: US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service. All three of these land management agencies manage different types of lands within their jurisdictions. In the forest and on the BLM most of their lands are usually open to multiple uses—that means they are available for harvesting trees, grazing cows, mining, and/or recreation of all types. But both agencies and the park service also have lands that are special for one reason or another.

Lands can achieve special status for many reasons: perhaps they are critical wildlife habitat, or they may have some special recreation status like a reservoir or motorized recreation area—in which case they many have a special name, a special color on the map, and special rules for visitors. Many of these special designations can be made by the agency itself through planning processes that include public input. But the two most special designations: National Monuments and Federally Designated Wilderness Areas are made by the president in the case of national monuments and by the Congress in the case of Wilderness.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 was the first time we as a species decided to put the needs of nature above the needs of man. Until this time, and for all of human history, the earth was here for us to use. By the early 1960s the pace of development around the globe became a concern and many people began to think that it would be wise to leave some portions of the planet in their natural state, thus the Wilderness Act of 1964 was born. The act itself is fairly simple in that the goal is to leave areas designated as wilderness ‘untrammeled by man.

Since the mountain bike was not invented in 1964, there is no specific mention of bicycles in the act. But the act does clearly state that mechanized transport is prohibited. Horses however were allowed continued access, partly because they are animals, partly because it was a historic use, and partly because the act would never have passed if horses had been excluded. Every act that congress has ever passed has includes compromises.

Many people have tried to slice and dice the wording to find a way to allow mountain bikes in Wilderness Areas but none have succeeded. Instead many bike advocates have worked with wilderness advocates to sort out Wilderness boundaries in a way that keeps established and legal bike trails open. With one exception, none of the Wilderness bills passed since 2009 have closed bike trails.

This is one of the important distinctions between Wilderness designations and national monuments. When a Wilderness bill is proposed by a congressman to designate either BLM or Forest Service land as Wilderness, the process is long and detailed and the public is part of the process at every step. The public can see drafts of the bill, they can submit testimony at the hearing, and they can lobby members of congress to vote for or against the bill.

National monuments go through a process that goes through the executive branch rather than the legislative branch, and in some ways is the opposite because the public input come primarily after the designation has been made. The president was given the power to unilaterally issue a proclamation designating a piece of public land as a national monument by Congress when it passed the Antiquities Act. The purpose of this act is to protect places of historic or cultural significance. Many of our national parks started as national monuments. At first the locals were angry because they found themselves losing the right to use these lands for grazing or mining or other traditional ways to make a living. But over the years most (but not all) residents have come to appreciate their national parks.

Today, many people who live near public lands may agree that a particular place deserves a higher level of protection, but they would prefer achieving that protection using legislation—a bill in Congress that would include their input and ideas as it was developed. The national monument designation rankles some residents because the proclamation process does not officially include public input.

However—and there are two ‘howevers’ involved here. The national monument process DOES include public input in the management plan that is developed to sort out exactly how the new monument will be managed. In this process, many of the same types of decisions that are made about Wilderness boundaries and other public land designations, that are part of public land legislation, are addressed in the monument management plan and the public is involved.

The second ‘however’ involves gridlock in Congress that prevents any legislation from passing. In many cases locals have been working on public land bills that would designate some Wilderness and perhaps create some other designations, but Congress has failed to pass these locally supported bills. In those cases, the public had had no choice but to by pass Congress and ask the president to act unilaterally to implement the protections they have agreed upon via a national monument designation.

Whether these special designations are achieved via a public lands Wilderness bill or a presidential national monument proclamation—there are still people that think any increased protections are a bad idea. The current thinking of the Trump administration is that all regulation prohibits economic growth, and many of the recent updates in land management and environmental protections have already been rolled back. There are many ways that these changes could affect a mountain bike trail near you, but before we head down that dark path, our next post will be about communities that are prospering precisely because they have access to protected public lands.

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Why you need to know about public land: As mountain bikers, we are dependent on public lands. Through my career in bike manufacturing, racing, and as an outfitter I have had the opportunity to ride on trails of every description on public lands of every type.

Today there are increasing pressures on our public lands from all directions, so we here at Western Spirit thought it would be useful to use our blog as quick and easy place for mountain bikers to get informed on public land issues that are likely to effect the trails you love.

Land ownership through the ages: The first land owner was probably someone from a nomadic tribe that accidentally planted a seed and decided to stick around to watch it grow. Or maybe it was someone who found some type of ore coming out of the ground and figured he could trade it for food. For most of human history, land ownership has been the best way to generate wealth to take care of yourself and your family.

The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged immigrants to head west and claim some land. Lots of land did get claimed but quite a bit didn’t. Why not—nobody wanted to live there. In most cases the problem would have been lack of water, but in other place the topography itself just wasn’t very hospitable.

Thus more by accident than by design Americans ended up owning large sections of public land, primarily in Western States. These lands are in three major categories: National Parks—the jewels of the program, National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management Lands. And in all three there are places that are considered: front-country—near roads, near towns and easily accessible; and backcountry—which are further away, usually you need to camp out there. In general more skills and experience are needed to reach backcountry places.

National Parks are the most unique and special places in the country and are also often historic locations. Front country lands within National Parks include visitor centers and short hikes to points of interest. Backcounty areas in National Parks are often sensitive landscapes where visitation is limited by a permit system. The good thing about a permit system is that when you do get out there, you have the place all to yourself! Like we do on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. National Parks are managed by the Department of Interior. Congressman Ryan Zinke from Montana was just appointed Secretary of the Interior and while we don’t know if he mountain bikes—he does hunt and fish so we are hopeful!

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is also managed by the Department of Interior. These lands include all kind of incredible deserts and canyons and are primarily designated for multiple use. That means oil and gas, grazing, and mining, as well as motorized and non-motorized recreation. In recent years, recreation on BLM lands has grown exponentially, partly due to strong partnerships between local BLM Managers, local mountain bike groups, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association, IMBA. But conflicts between recreation and resource extraction like oil and gas and mining are starting to pop up around the country. Because oil and gas operators pay for leases on these lands, they have more rights than we do. We are making progress zoning some lands for recreation through the land planning process as business owners and trail users get involved, but when we don’t show up, resource extraction usually wins the day. More on this in future blogs.

National Forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture, primarily because much of the original focus was on harvesting trees. Today there are lots of trails on forest service lands and in some places near ski areas or other resorts ‘the trees are worth more standing up than they would be lying down.’ Timber management remains the focus of the Forest Service, but the Outdoor Industry Association along with other groups have recently launched a process for improving recreation management on Forest Service lands and this program is progressing.

These are the major categories of federal land managers. These lands are owned by you. Its all yours!! Next week Wilderness and National Monuments demystified!

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