The North Fork Mountain Trail is an IMBA designated EPIC Ride in West Virginia. This National Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest is a great place to ride a bicycle! Current proposed Congressional legislation may designate this area Wilderness effectively banning bicycles.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Bob Goodlatte: Virginia Congressional Representative for the Sixth District's Response to Our many letters against the Proposed Wilderness
Response from Bob Goodlatte of Virginia's Sixth District Concerning the Proposed Wilderness bill for North Fork Mountain, WV
Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 5965, the Monongahela Conservation Legacy Act of 2010. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concern.
As you are aware, H.R. 5965 would require Congress to designate 6,042 acres on and around North Fork Mountain in the Monongahela National Forest as wilderness. I am very concerned by this potential designation. A Congressional wilderness designation locks up the affected land in perpetuity and does not allow any flexibility to change management prescriptions due to changes in forest conditions. It also prohibits access to existing trails that have long been enjoyed by folks who ride mountain bikes and other types of recreational vehicles.
I believe that our national forests are a national treasure. Our national forests were created to serve multiple uses and should be accessible to everyone for a variety of activities. While I believe that it is important that our national forests, including the Monongahela, have areas that retain their natural character, I do not believe a wilderness designation is the proper prescription for this area.
By locking land into the restrictions of a wilderness area, we also remove the Forest Service's ability to treat these areas for fire prevention and invasive species, which have been important concerns in recent years. We must also ensure that all groups have equal access to the pristine views of North Fork Mountain, and not relegate this area to a select group.
H.R. 5965 has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, as well as the House Committee on Agriculture, on which I am a member. The Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on September 16, 2010, to review several public lands bills, including H.R. 5965. There is no further action scheduled on this bill at this time in either committee. Rest assured, I will keep your views in mind as this legislation is considered by Congress.