Monongahela Wilderness Update- 2/19/2008
"Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations." Aldous Huxley
West Virginia Wilderness Coalition (WVWC) employees, paid lobbyists, have failed to mention in their slick publications, in their pitch to potential supporters, in their numerous visits to the WV Congressional delegation and in their exclusive promotions on WV National Public Radio about some of the management restrictions that come with the traditional Wilderness designation in the Monongahela National Forest.
These restrictions include a ban on all wheeled vehicles, including bicycles, a ban on all mechanized trail maintenance, including chainsaws and wheelbarrows, and restrictions on groups of more than ten people and commercial events like running and adventure racing.
Of course by not mentioning these issues they have made their task of persuasion much easier because they do not have many valid arguments against them or the reasons why alternative designations would not make more sense.
The Sierra Club has published a book of the top ten most environmental inventions of man and number one is the bicycle.
The National Park Service published a study in 2006 on the environmental effects of various users on trails in the Big South Fork National River in Kentucky. The results found that mountain bikes and hikers had very similar effects with the bicycles actually doing less damage.
A study in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada concluded that pedestrians actually disturbed wildlife more than cyclists. Conflict between users in the Monongahela National Forest is a non-issue at this time and bicycles were using Dolly Sods North long before the Forest Service purchase and the influx of hikers there.
In order to avoid having to argue these issues and be on the losing side, the WVWC has chosen instead not to provide a forum for this debate and not to compromise or discuss any deviation from their original position created by their bosses at the Wilderness Society in Durango, Colorado.
In order to distract people from the real issues at hand, the WVWC has used spin and false accusations about the mountain bike community in West Virginia. The latest word from Morgantown is that we are “radicals” and have launched personal attacks against them by merely mentioning their names.
The true “radicals” here are the WVWC on the one end of the spectrum who advocate for huge expanses of Wilderness, regardless of the economic repercussions in the localities nearby, who are unwilling to compromise and who will be back again for more in ten years or so. The other end of the spectrum would be the advocates of absolutely no acreage left untouched by man and a National Forest run by and for big business interests.
West Virginia Mountain Bike Association has always advocated for preservation and protection of our “special places”. We actually endorsed several Wilderness areas in the most recent Forest Plan revision, the continuation of all existing 6.2 non-motorized backcountry designations and we have ceaselessly promoted a compromise with the WVWC that we can all support, but to no avail.
The West Virginia Mountain Bike Association position is a moderate and adaptable stand that is supported by the vast majority of West Virginians and is far from being “radical”. Ours is a message of inclusion not exclusion.
Read the rest here