The Senate Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act to the senate floor this past Thursday. The bill (S.2877) seeks to empower local land managers with regulation of non-motorized travel within Wilderness areas.
S.2877 provides land managers a two year determination period. If surpassed without decision, all routes within the Wilderness area in question then open to non-motorized travel until closed by a local manager. After the initial two year window, land managers still retain the the authority to regulate, open and close Wilderness routes. Specific area usage would be prescribed and enforced by the local land manager(s).
If it sounds familiar, it is. This is a re-introduction of the former S.3205 bill from the 114th Congress on July 13, 2016.
As it currently stands, the Wilderness Act maintains a blanket ban on bicycles within Wilderness areas, prohibiting “mechanical transport.” Sen. Lee’s bill would remove the overarching ban, granting access decisions to managers directly in charge of each specific area. This is not a bill that would automatically allow mountain bikes into Wilderness.
You might also be thinking, wait a minute, what about that other bill? H.R.1349 aims to allow mountain bikes and other non-motorized forms of travel in Wilderness through a similar process of allowing local land managers to set the rules. H.R. 1349 is currently on the House floor, while S.2877 is in the Senate. Where do we go from here?
S.2877 was just introduced and passed to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. If the bill continues forward, it will move to the Senate floor for a vote. Assuming it passes, it will then head to the House for a vote. If it passes there, it will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Continue to check back for updates and find more about S.2877 here.