Mountain bikes no worse than canoes

Advocates say mountain bikes are compatible with wilderness. Photo by Susan Bibeau
Advocates say mountain bikes are compatible with wilderness.
Photo by Susan Bibeau

I believe canoes and kayaks are the latest threat to our wild lands, and I am strongly opposed to permitting them in Wilderness Areas. Canoes and kayaks give people a huge mechanical advantage. They shrink wild lands. They can transport more people farther, creating intrusions in even the most remote areas.

In many cases, the relative difficulty of accessing large wild lands provides a safe haven for sensitive wildlife. If canoes and kayaks are permitted in wild lands, their use by trappers and hunters would mean there would be no refuge for wildlife.

Canoes and kayaks can and do transport invasive species, ensuring the more rapid spread of exotics. The speed of canoes and kayaks disrupts and alarms birds, fish, and walkers.

It’s time to recognize that canoes and kayaks are just as inappropriate in wild lands as other mechanical vehicles and allowing watercraft use to determine future suitability of lands and waters for Wilderness designation would be a mistake.

The argument above is identical to the one in the May/June 2014 letter written by George Wuerthner (“Think twice before allowing mountain bikes”), only I replaced mountain bikes with canoes and kayaks. Wuerthner’s attack on mountain bikes is just as ridiculous as banning canoes and kayaks.

Mountain bikers hold the wilderness with the same reverence as a canoeist, kayaker, or an Adirondack High Peak hiker. Mountain bikers embody the culture and ethics dedicated to preserving the very wilderness they enjoy. Mountain-bike clubs have proven to be good stewards of the land long before the State of New York acquired much of the land they currently ride on.

An attack on mountain bikers is no different than an attack on all people who make the trek into the wilderness.

Patrick Ryan, Albany

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