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Current trail access issues.
 
 
One of the current issues concerning mountain biking is trail access.  Fortunately, we have some of the best access to trails in Montana, and for that measure, in the USA.  The Beaver Head - Deerlodge National Forest has some of the only access to the Continental Divide Trail that is available to mountain biking.  This is in no small part due to co-operation of the following groups:
 
   Mile-High Back Country Horsemen
   Highlands Cycling Club
   Wild Divide Chapter, Montana Wilderness Association
   US Forest Service
   Helena Bicycle Club
   Prickly Pear Land Trust
   Helena Trail Riders
   Great Divide Cycling Team
   Helena Outdoor Club
   Last Chance Back Country Horsemen
  
Bike access to wilderness areas is threatened in many places.  We have been fortunate to have many people that have worked hard to keep access available.  Your support is appreciated and necessary. Maintaining positive user group interactions on our trails helps to keep access issues favorable to cyclists.  
 
Below is the High Divide Trail agreement, which pertains to access issues facing mountain bikers as a trail user group.  This issue has been debated and had many hours of volunteer time donated by a small number of dedicated individuals.  Highland cycling owes a great debt of gratitude to Mike Borduin for his time and effort in representing Montana cyclists access rights. 

Draft Montana High Divide Agreement
 
To keep 202 miles of local Continental Divide Trail (from the Anaconda-Pintlars to the southern boundary of the Scapegoat Wilderness) open to mountain bikes, Highlands Cycling has been working hard on the draft High Divide Agreement.  This agreement supports the local use of mountain bikes on the Continental Divide Trail, and has been endorsed by the Continental Divide Trail Alliance and several other local groups in Butte and Helena.  If you are at all are interested in keeping this trail open to mountain bikes, you can help by commenting on this agreement by September 14, 2007.
 
For those of you that have not heard of this draft agreement, since June of 2006, the Highlands Cycling Club in Butte, the Helena Bike Club, and the Great Divide Cycling team in Helena, along with the Prickly Pear Land Trust, the Continental Divide Trail Aliance (CDTA), horse groups from the Helena and Butte area, and the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) have been working on a collaborative agreement for the areas along the continental divide from the Anaconda-Pintlar Wilderness to the southern boundary of the Scapegoat Wilderness. 
 
The portions of Recommended Wilderness covered in the high divide agreement would be managed as wilderness, i.e. no mechanized, no bikes.  As you can see by the map below, with the draft High Divide Agreement, we won't be able to ride in some areas of the Electric Peaks.  
 
Why would we seek an agreement where bikes are not allowed?  Through the agreement we have gained the support of area users to access Cottonwood Lake, Thunderbolt Mtn, and Bison Peak, all areas that were previously sought after as Wilderness by MWA.  Also, in the Anaconda area, MWA was seeking to recommend Lost Creek as Recommended Wilderness, and they agreed to support this as non-motorized. 
 
Also, in areas where mountain bikes would be displaced, the draft High Divide Agreement recommends that before mountain bikers are displaced, alternate (single track) routes will be established. 
 
Finally, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA) themselves have agreed to sign the high divide agreement in support of keeping mountain bikes on the Continental Divide Trail in areas not in Recommded Wilderness and within the draft High Divide Agreement (i.e. from the Anaconda-Pintlar Wilderness to the southern boundary of the Scapegoat Wilderness).  As you know in Butte, the whole town is nearly surrounded by the Continental Divide Trail.  Being excluded from this trail would mean being excluded from most Forest Service "system" trails in the area.  This portion of the agreement is perhaps the most valuable to mountain bikers in the Butte area.  Consider the following Proposed Directive:
 
 
 
 
 

 
In it, on page 32277 and 32278, is the following text:

"7. Bicycle (mountain bike) use may only be allowed on a trail segment of the CDNST where the following conditions are met (16 U.S.C. 1246(c)):

a. An affirmative determination has been made that bicycle use would not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the CDNST, and

b. Bicycles must also be allowed by the overall management direction for the land management plan area.

8. Where bicycle (mountain bike) use is allowed on the CDNST, consider establishing bicycle use prohibitions and restrictions (36 CFR part 261) to mitigate the effects of such use on the nature and purposes of the CDNST.  Management practices and actions that would promote or result in increased bicycle use on the CDNST should not occur."

I hope that you might agree that this agreement is a good start for helping mountain bikers continue riding on the Continental Divide Trail. 
 
What does this agreement mean to you?  Good question - and I don't know.   But I do know that your comments will improve the draft High Divide Agreement and give it strength.  If the materials below don't provide sufficient information for you, please feel free to e-mail Mike Borduin at mborduin at pioneer-technical dot com (spelled as such to avoid auto-spam).  Send your opinion (either positive or negative) to this address, use our online comment form, or send in a signed letter with your comments to our PO box 912, area code 59703.  Please send your comments in by September 14, 2007.
 
A text version of the agreement is in development and will be posted when it is ready for review.
 

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