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By Ashley Korenblat 

The below is an update from Ashley about the 30×30 America the Beauty initiative. The original blog on this topic focused on what it means for the bike community.

The Biden administration’s America the Beautiful initiative was inspired by the idea that we need to protect 30% of the earth’s surface by 2030, thus 30 x 30. This goal was first proposed by climate scientists from around the world. Yet some elected officials, particularly in Western States are painting this effort as a land grab. They see 30 x 30 in the black and white context of land is either available to use or it is locked up for the benefit of ‘nature’ not humans.

Of course, there is a natural tension between using the earth’s resources to improve the human condition and the inevitable disruption of our natural systems. The question is at what point does our short-term use of the land to meet today’s needs threaten our long-term survival?  We can all probably agree that if we disturb 100% of the earth’s surface that it will be very difficult for the planet to produce the clean air and water critical to our survival.  But at the same time, we need resources, including food, and our current systems require us to disturb natural ecosystems. The question is the ratio—how much of the earth can we disturb to meet our needs without throwing off the whole system?

For now, the answer is 70% since our best researchers have told us that we need to keep at least 30% of the planet in its natural state. This does not mean that all of the lands involved must be owned by the federal government or that they must be protected by the Wilderness Act.  If we look at the problem from a county-by-county perspective, the question is what lands in your county are contributing to processing carbon? –to protecting water supplies?  –regardless of who owns them.

We know that all people need access to healthy landscapes. Green space of all types is in high demand, a trend that the pandemic has intensified. Prosperous cities and towns across the country are planning with nature in mind for all of their citizens. Quality of life is a key component of economic progress and businesses of all types are investing in places where their employees can get outside.  Land in its natural state has economic value that will only appreciate over time.

The America the Beautiful initiative is a framework we can use to break the dichotomy between development and conservation. We can find the right balance between use and preservation using these components of the program:

  • Pursue a Collaborative and Inclusive Approach to Conservation
  • Conserve America’s Lands and Waters for the Benefit of All People
  • Support Locally Led and Locally Designed Conservation Efforts
  • Honor Tribal Sovereignty and Support the Priorities of Tribal Nations
  • Pursue Conservation and Restoration Approaches that Create Jobs and Support Healthy Communities
  • Honor Private Property Rights and Support the Voluntary Stewardship Efforts of Private Landowners and Fishers
  • Use Science as a Guide
  • Build on Existing Tools and Strategies with an Emphasis on Flexibility and Adaptive Approaches

The administration has made clear that America the Beautiful is an opt in opportunity which nearly every county in America could use to their advantage. If you are a western county with large amounts of public land, are you optimizing that use to keep your air and water clean? If you are an eastern county with very little green space, what steps can you take to make nature available to your citizens? Today’s challenges require new ways of thinking about the land around us and America the Beautiful is an opportunity to do just that.

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There is no doubt that, whether we like it or not, the oil and natural gas industry plays a big part in our day-to-day lives. As oil and gas users, it is crucial that we take on the responsibility of asking our government and the producers to use best practices when developing oil and gas, as we all work towards a transition to more climate-friendly sources of energy.

Methane is a primary ingredient of natural gas, and when wells are drilled, methane escapes into the atmosphere. Methane traps over 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide. (Note: Methane referenced here is specific to oil and gas. Cows do affect climate, but that is a different topic.) Methane from oil and gas production is responsible for around 25% of the environmental impacts we are experiencing today. 

The oil and gas industry knows that leaking methane is a problem, and there are many companies working to produce better valves, piping, storage tanks, etc., to better control methane leakage. The Obama administration issued a Methane Rule that was established to require operators to use these improved products and techniques on their well pads. However, the Trump Administration rolled back this rule. In the past few weeks, both the House and the Senate voted to reinstate this rule, and President Biden is expected to sign the joint resolution.

Many bike trails around the west travel across and through active oil and gas fields where methane and other unhealthy gases are affecting air quality. It is therefore in the best interest of trail users to encourage and require oil and gas operators to put best practices in place to stop the leaks. 

Additionally, by producing, installing, and monitoring new equipment to capture more methane, oil and gas producers will have more natural gas to sell while simultaneously creating jobs, and reducing the leak of Methane into the environment. The Methane Rule is a win/win solution for both the oil and gas industry and recreation, and we look forward to its reinstatement immediately.

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Earlier this month, the Biden Administration launched the America the Beautiful Initiative, a ten-year, locally led, voluntary effort to restore and conserve America’s lands, waters, and wildlife. This program was inspired by the goal of preserving 30% of America’s lands and oceans by 2030, dubbed the “30×30” initiative.

The goal is to make real progress on the climate crisis by protecting ecosystems and keeping more land in its natural state. By doing this, we can capture more metric tons of CO2, while simultaneously protecting wildlife habitat and providing more places for people to recreate. America the Beautiful is a nationwide project that incorporates existing efforts to protect and conserve land, while also encouraging new ones.

This effort focuses on both the quantity of land preserved – by adding some level of protection to federal, state, county, or private undeveloped land – and the quality of protections for the land; for example, bills that upgrade federally-owned BLM land to a National Recreation Area, or, if the acres qualify, to a designated Wilderness area. While the America the Beautiful initiative does include many such proposals, these areas have been examined by the bike community and  no existing bike trails would be closed.

In fact, the America the Beautiful initiative is much more likely to provide additional acreage of all types where new bike trails can be built. Much of the emphasis is on providing access to natural places to more people, and this means more trails near more cities. With a nationwide push to preserve open space, we can protect the trails we already have and gain land to build new ones, and everyone in the biking community will benefit.

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Are you tired of planning family vacations? Are you the one in charge of all the meal planning, lodging, rentals, activities, and transportation? Isn’t vacation about getting away from all of this? 

We think so! 

Join us on a fun-filled, all-inclusive, family vacation without all the planning. All you need to do is show up, jump on a bike, and pedal away with us into the sunset. We have it all covered at Western Spirit, saving you from the dreaded reservation and travel websites you’ve been scrolling through the past few months.

Whether you are just getting into biking, or you’ve been ripping for years, Western Spirit has a trip for you. We guide rides all across the country, including 11 national parks, ranging in difficulty from introductory to advanced. We also offer fantastic accommodations for all of our trips, so the only thing you’ll be thinking about is the ride ahead! 

What really is included with an all-inclusive biking experience with Western Spirit? 

Every trip we offer comes with that coveted ‘all inclusive’ experience you’ve been looking for. No need to pack meals, drinks, or sunscreen – we got you covered! Our experienced guides have your best interests in mind, helping to make the experience one you’ll always remember. That means all campsites, shuttles, National Parks Passes, and food is covered – even cowboy coffee when you wake up! The only thing you have to bring is the beer, the right clothes, and a great big smile. At the end of a long day of riding, there are few things better than a cold drink, a sweet snack, and a fully cooked meal. The Western Spirit famous backcountry brownies are also included!

A truly underrated feature that is included in a trip like this is planning and organization. If you have ever planned a backcountry trip of any kind, you know what it takes to make everything come together seamlessly. Our guides have it all covered, from meals, to packing, and cooking to camping reservations and breaking down tents. A Western Spirit trip is about riding in incredible locations with those you love, like these folks!

Another underestimated aspect of Western Spirit trips is the escape from reality. On our trips, your guides are able to create an atmosphere that lets guests truly ‘sign off’ from their everyday lives. While the cell service is spotty (yay!), groups always have a great time and enjoy the break from reality with daily doses of breathtaking views, morning coffee chats, and many miles ridden.  Past guests often talk about how WS trips offer a spiritual recharge and a perfect escape from the everyday hustle. 

Can the kids come? 

Yes, bring the kids! We offer awesome trips for your youngsters and teens that are tailored to their age and riding abilities. One of our favorites is the White Rim teens trip, action-packed with trail rides, slot canyon hikes, afternoon swim breaks in the Colorado River, and some of the best views Canyonlands has to offer. In total there are 50+ trips to choose from – why not explore them all!

Who makes it all happen? 

Our incredible guides are like swiss army knives of bike trips. They do it all! Our guides will be your backcountry:

  • Bike mechanic
  • Adventure locator
  • Gourmet chef
  • BFF
  • Doctor
  • Photographer 
  • Travel assistant
  • Trail leader
  • Encyclopedia
  • Hot springs locator 
  • Side adventure guru
  • Storyteller (if you’re lucky)

These folks have spent more time on two wheels than most people spend on four, making them the perfect people for all things biking. 

If you’re ready to ditch the headache of trip planning, and are past the days of dirtbag vacations, and are prepared to experience a trip like no other, come join us on one of our super fun and unique adventures. Make 2021 the year that you find a vacation that lets you be active, have fun outside, and  let the whole family enjoy riding beautiful trails! 

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Starting in mid-March, just in time for the Western Spirit season to kick off, we introduced our Ask a Guide Facebook Series. The goal of this series is to answer the questions YOU have about what a Western Spirit Guided Cycling trip entails. Each episode features a different topic with different Western Spirit staff and guides answering questions, giving you an opportunity to also get to know the people behind the scenes. To-date we’ve recorded four of these Ask a Guide episodes and if you missed them, check them out in detail below. 

Tune in every other Thursday to learn more about our guided bike trips and if there’s a topic you’re curious about, feel free to drop it in the comments and we’ll be sure to add it to the show lineup.

Episode 1: What IS a bike trip?

In this episode, Mark Sevenoff, co-founder of Western Spirit Cycling and Sean Hayes, a longtime Western Spirit guide from Harleysville, PA and member of the sales team talk about “What IS a bike trip?” They answer questions such as, “What’s included?”, “What’s the food like?”, “How do I choose the right trip?” and maybe the most important question of all, “Where do I go to the bathroom?” During the live video, other audience questions included:

  1. Q: What is the best sales pitch to have my wife buy into your trip? A: Maybe tell her about the Backcountry Hot Springs Bike Trip in Ketchum, ID? During this intermediate and fully supported mountain bike trip you’ll get to enjoy clear natural hot springs at every camp! We begin our trip in Ketchum, Idaho and bike to the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. Imagine riding a mountain bike over a mountain pass surrounded by wildflowers and then cruising into the valley below to spend the evening in a clear steaming natural hot spring. Just when you think it can’t get any better, we arrive at the tiny town of Atlanta, Idaho below the dramatic shadow of Mount Greylock. During our layover day in Atlanta you can choose to hike into the Sawtooth Wilderness, ride the singletrack to Grouse Lakes, or simply soak in one of the three hot springs for the whole day. The riding on this mountain bike trip is primarily on dirt roads. Climbing to the top of each pass is a good workout, but the descents on the other side make it all worthwhile. 
  2. Q: Can I ride with my own clips? A: Yes! You can bring your own pedals and shoes and the guides will happily put them on for you

Looking for more general info about bike trips? Check out our FAQ page which is sure to answer any and all additional questions you may have. 

Episode 2: New Riders & Bike Vacations

In episode number two of our Facebook Live Ask a Guide” Series, Sean Hayes returns with second year guide Britney Charme to talk about new riders and bike vacations.

Questions like, “Who should I go with?,” “What do I need to bring?,” and “Will I have to fix my own bike?” are all answered in this episode. If you’re new to riding, check out our full list of introductory trips available this summer. One question that came out of the live video:

  1. Q: What is the average MPH on these intro rides anyway? A: Mark replied with, 7.77 mph is just about perfect.

Are you more of a checklist person and looking for more of a written rundown of what’s included in a Western Spirit trip? Check out our What’s Included page to get the full overview.

Episode 3: Family Trips

In this episode of our Ask a Guide series, Adam Rosenfeld and Mark Sevenoff talk all about Western Spirit family trips. They answer some of the most popular questions regarding these types of trips such as, “How young can we start them?” and “Are s’mores offered every night  – or just the last one?” One question and response that came out of the video was:

  1. Q: What’s the best part of a family trip? A: As a mom, the best thing about going on a family trip is getting to enjoy your kids while the guides do all the cooking and cleaning and organizing and even most of the kid wrangling!

Check out all of our Family Trip options available this summer – either our trips for Younger Kids or our trips for Teens!

Episode 4: Advanced Singletrack Trips

In our most recent episode, senior guides Weston Shirey from Park City, Utah and Justina Liss from Back River, MI talked about our advanced singletrack tours. They’re both expert riders that guide a variety of our tours but really shine on the more challenging ones. In this video they discussed what to expect from this type of trip and answered a few audience questions.

  1. Q: I am wondering about tours that include hikes. Do people bring their hiking shoes or ride with them? A: On any trips that include hikes most people keep their walking shoes in the truck until the hike. But some folks use the same shoes as they ride in.
  2. Q: Does the Prescott Singletrack trip use groovers or established campgrounds? A: 3 nights are at established Forest Service campgrounds and one night is spent at a dispersed site with a groover.

We’ll continue to update this blog post with future episodes to hopefully answer all of the questions you have about our guided bike trips! If you have any immediate questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll get back to you shortly. If you want to hear more about our trips from outside sources, check out our customer reviews. Follow along with the Western Spirit season on Instagram at @western_spirit, Facebook at Western Spirit Cycling Adventures and Twitter at @western_spirit.

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