President Bush is concentrating more on conservation issues in his last days of office. A few weeks ago he urged for the creation of more protected areas in our oceans. Now he wants to help mountain bikers gain access to national parks.
Perhaps smarting over a judge’s recent decision to scratch the Bush administration’s plan to allow snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, now Bush has said, “Damn it! If I can’t snowmobile in Yellowstone, at least I want to go mountain biking!”
According to the Associated Press, the National Park Service has confirmed that a change in protocols might occur that would allow national park superintendents to independently decide if park trails and areas should be open to mountain biking– which would most certainly reduce years of waiting and bureaucratic channeling of decision-making.
I tend to have mixed feelings on the matter. In some ways, the decision to give superintendents more power in decision-making is a good thing. I’m a little reluctant to say, however, that I’m comfortable with mountain biking occurring on a bigger scale in national parks. It’s just like snowmobiling. There are plenty of other beautiful places it can be done, and if our national parks don’t receive the highest level of conservation, than where should that occur? (And pesky readers, I know wilderness areas are designed for that, but come on, you know what I mean).
National parks also have many paved and unpaved roads that are great for road biking through beautiful environs– are trails really necessary too?
While the National Park Service mission allows for the enjoyment of visitors in national parks, there is evidence that mountain biking and snowmobiling would have some negative environmental effects. If impairment occurs on a major level, then these activities should probably not be taking place. But perhaps there are some national parks where mountain biking on trails or in open areas would be acceptable if environmental damage is not a factor. Any thoughts on where those places might be?