HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

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KoutaR
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by KoutaR » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:12 pm

Don,

It was me, Kouta. We both have a blue t-shirt, almost like twins... ;)

Indeed, some claim it was the climate change after the last Ice Age that killed all those large animals. Nobody can prove it, nor that the Native Americans were guilty. However, those animals survived numerous interglacials before the recent one. Is the recent interglacial climatically remarkably different from the all others? Probably not, nevertheless all those great animals suddenly went to their extinction. The only thing that was different is that now the humans were there.

Anyway, it is fascinating to think the world without the humans. Elephant-like animals in all the continents apart from Antarctica and Australia. Perhaps forests would be more open. Europe would have many of the large mammals that now live in Africa (or their relatives): rhinos, hippos, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild oxes etc. A recent paper (Faurby & Svenning 2015) proposes that the terrestrial megafauna diversity without the human-driven extinctions would be highest in North and South America. Now it is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and even there extinctions occurred.

Kouta

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Don
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Don » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:21 pm

Kouta-
Before replying to your post, I'd like to get back to the "Biking in Wilderness" thread, by pasting an article in the most recent High Country News:

"It’s inevitable. There will be bikes in wilderness.
Ted Stroll OPINION March 29, 2016 Web Exclusive ~ Current Issue of High Country News
"It hasn’t happened yet, but one day, bicycles and baby strollers will be welcome in wilderness. That’s the goal of the nonprofit Sustainable Trails Coalition, which seeks to permit other forms of human-powered trail travel in wilderness areas, besides just walking.
Congress never prohibited biking or pushing a baby carriage. Both are banned by outmoded decisions that federal agencies made in the 1970s and 1980s. Over time, those decisions became frozen into place by lethargy and inertia.

It is true that the Wilderness Act forbids “mechanical transport.” By this, however, Congress meant people being moved around by machines, not people moving themselves with mechanical assistance. Now that wilderness acreage is larger than California and Maryland combined – vastly larger than when the walk-only rules were imposed – there is a pressing need to restore Congress’ original vision.

In 1977, renowned conservationists Sen. Frank Church of Idaho and Arizona Rep. Morris Udall explained what they thought Congress’ intentions were. Church said, “Agencies are applying provisions of the Wilderness Act too strictly and thus misconstruing the intent of Congress as to how these areas should be managed.” Udall warned against “stringent ‘purity’ criteria” that have “led to public opposition to wilderness proposals based on what is, and what is not, perceived to be … permissible in wilderness areas. …” As early as 1964, some Forest Service staff wanted to ban even rowboats.

The Sustainable Trails Coalition’s proposal is modest. It would not permit mountain biking or walking with a baby stroller everywhere. Instead, local land managers would be given the discretion to allow forms of human-powered travel where they believe it’s appropriate. The United States has 765 wilderness areas, each one managed by officials who know the terrain.

Opposition to the coalition’s proposed bill apparently rests partly on unjustified fears that federal employees can’t manage their land. Another argument is that where bicycles go, motorcycles and ATVs will soon follow. But members of the coalition have talked with staffers at many congressional offices, and none of them show any interest in using our proposed bill as a stalking-horse for motorized uses that, unlike bicycles, have never been allowed in wilderness.

We suspect that our opponents’ real fear is not that reform will fail, but that it will succeed. If we cease limiting wilderness travel to methods available in biblical times and thereby achieve better-managed wilderness – with more volunteers maintaining trails and cycling visits that keep trails accessible to everyone – the previous cries of “wolf” will look foolish.

Some opponents accuse us of being pawns of giant bicycle companies with large cash reserves and a thirst to get bicycles back into wilderness. But the coalition is a grassroots effort, funded by individuals and a few small businesses.

Opponents of biking in wilderness are like pen-and-ink types opposing manual typewriters. It might be comical if the effects weren’t so grave, disconnecting more people from the outdoors and increasing their indifference to conservation.

Some people also worry that bicycles would “shrink” wilderness, and argue that we already have enough places to ride. But backpacking technology allows for more invasive intrusions into wilderness than bicycles. Most bicyclists leave the wilderness at dusk and don’t camp.

As for the call for us to “go somewhere else,” we would never patronize these critics by saying they’re not welcome in wilderness unless they travel by bicycle. We prefer to bicycle, but we don’t insist that everyone else has to ride. Bicycling is clean, environmentally benign, and has that wonderful quality of “flow,” which the human psyche rejoices in experiencing. Mountain biking may be richer in flow than any other recreational endeavor — that’s one reason so many of us prize it.

There’s a grim backdrop to the struggle over wilderness that this quarrel only worsens. In the 52 years since Congress passed the Wilderness Act of 1964, national forest wilderness has fallen victim to a number of contradictions that have warped the original vision. Some areas are overrun and loved to death, like the Maroon Bells in Colorado. Others are no longer managed and seldom visited, and marijuana growers reportedly have filled the vacuum, as in California’s Yolla Bolly. Still others, including the Pasayten in Washington, are despoiled by pack outfitters, whose abuses are ignored by many wilderness activists and the government.

Fixing these problems will take a generation, lots of money, and new leadership. Cyclists can’t do it alone, but we can help, if we’re accepted as partners, not treated as interlopers into the wilderness private club.

The Sustainable Trails Coalition loves wilderness and thinks Congress got the law right in 1964. Now, we seek restoration of the original vision. There is nothing to fear about granting federal employees the discretionary authority the coalition proposes.


Ted Stroll is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. He is an attorney and president of the Sustainable Trails Coalition in California."

I don't necessarily agree with this article but include it in the thread for furthering discussion.
-Don
Last edited by Don on Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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Don
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Don » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:41 pm

Kouta-
Back to 'a world without humans...'
One of my assigned tasks while working for the Grand Canyon National Park, was to assemble a spatial database of all fire reports at Grand Canyon, from 1921-2001. What could this have to do with pre-historic megafauna?
One fire report was from 1977, and was called the Sloth Dung Fire. Caused by Colorado River runners visiting Rampart Cave, from coals falling from a wooden torch they had lit. The Rampart Cave was known primarily by paleontologists, for the 40,000 year history yielded by the well-preserved sloth dung. The coals started a fire that was difficult to put out (like fire in peat, it doesn't need oxygen to burn).
An interesting account can be found at
https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/ ... 5eae059e5/
Other interesting anecdotes exist.
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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KoutaR
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by KoutaR » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:08 am

Interesting article, Don!

From the article:
The Shasta sloth died out just after the last ice age, at the same time most mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth tigers, camels, horses and many species of wolf, sloth and other large mammals in North America became extinct, according to Dr. Paul Martin, University of Arizona professor of geosciences who calls himself, the "World's leading expert on fossil sloths.

Martin said the sluggish sloth's demise, like that of many other large America mammals, "coincided with the arrival of big-game hunters on the continent from Asia" about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

Joe

Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Joe » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:20 am

KoutaR wrote:
Joe wrote:yuh, some millions of years ago? I believe horses evolved in North America---
Ca. 12,000 years ago. Native Americans extirpated them, as well as mammoths, mastodons, camels, stag-moose, shrub-ox, giant sloths, lions, saber-toother cats, giant beavers and many others.
Kouta, I knew about the Pleistocene mega fauna extinctions but for some reason I thought horses went extinct much earlier. Though the theory that humans did the deed is convincing- it's still hard to grasp how humans on foot with simple weapons could do this- especially horses! And yes, most of those species survived earlier warm periods- but still--- even though the animals were supposedly not fearful of humans, unlike those in Africa. I suggest there may be a third factor not yet known- which along with climate change and hunting by humans may have been the critical element.
Joe

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KoutaR
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by KoutaR » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:42 am

The key to understand the case may be the long time period. Even if it said they became "suddendly" extinct ca. 12,000 y ago, the time period may still be 1000 years, for example (like 12,500-11,500 y ago). Paul Martin has calculated that a small group of 100 humans could spread out over North and South America in 1000 years and kill all the large animals. I think it is this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Mammoths ... e+mammoths

I haven't read the book but only seen references in another book.

33 genera, mostly large mammals, disappeared from North America within 2000 years at the end of the last Ice Age. Within the preceding 3,000,000 years, the disappearance of only 20 genera is known although the period includes numerous ice ages and interglacials.

Kouta

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Larry Tucei
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Larry Tucei » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:04 am

Hermosa Creek Wilderness is a great example to follow. Game Trails became Indian Trails then Horse Trails now Bike Trails. Horse, Bike, Motor Cycles are all allowed on designated Trails. No riding off Trail- I Biked Hermosa Trail and so did several other NTS members. The Forest and Trails co-exist here and have been for years. Many of the Trees here are 200-300 years old. Maybe different back East but out West there is plenty of space for both. The impact of the erosion is evident but one Fire, Mountain slide, Earthquake and all is lost. What's the happy medium I can't answer that but I feel that both could co- exist. Sure some areas should be walk in only with no Trails and some should have both. Just my view. Larry

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Rand
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Rand » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:00 am

Larry,

I've done a fair bit of mountain biking, and it is striking the amount of damage a bike can do to a steep and winding hiking trail versus a well graded dirt fire road like you find in Hermosa creek.

I'm a little puzzled by the burning desire to ride bikes in wilderness area. Don't most of these areas have plenty of adjacent Nation Forest Areas to ride in, if that is what you really want to do? I mean it -is- nice to ride in a beautiful area, but anyone insisting they take in as much scenery as one would hiking is a complete idiot. No, if you're on a bike you're there primarily to ride...at which point someone will come back with ease of access arguments. I find this argument pretty lame too, if an area is set aside as 'Wilderness', does this not imply that ease of human use is -last- on the priority list, and preservation is first? We've got plenty of National Park's in beautiful places where 'ease of access' rules the priority list.

Joe

Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Joe » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:18 am

Kouta, I know the logic and this is the current consensus- but, horses? How do you kill horses when you don't have a horse and only spears and arrows? It goes against common sense. You might get lucky occasionally, but there must have been big herds and a wide open prairie. I suspect there is a third factor, in addition to humans and climate change.
Joe

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: HCN: Stop trying to make biking in wilderness happen

Post by Erik Danielsen » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:26 am

Joe, certainly additional factors must have figured, but- with advanced hunting strategies like funneling prey into natural or man-made traps (from cliffs to corrals to pits and ankle-breaking holes), use of fire, and technology like atlatls (you can see people take elk at a distance with atlatls on youtube), horses are harder to hunt than some other things, but certainly accessible through more than just luck. The continent's other (now extinct) predator species are worth considering as a third factor, though- as humans reduced availability of the most rewarding targets, predators that relied on those for food would potentially place heavier pressure on less preferred prey (which might include horses). A modern parallel is seen in transient orca populations- before the great whaling era, large whales are believed to have been a much more significant part of their diet, with only minor predation on smaller mammals like sea lions, sea otters, etc. With the great whales much reduced in number, their habits have shifted to smaller prey, and notably were a concern for sea otter conservation.

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