Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dave Gibson: Testing Gov Cuomo’s Wilderness Convictions

Wallface, Henderson Mtn from Goodnow Mtn firetowerWill the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency write to urge the U.S. Congress not to gut the federal Wilderness Act of 1964? Would Governor Cuomo allow this or encourage it?

Why should these state agencies write to Senators McConnell, Schumer and Gilllibrand to strongly oppose a bill that opens up all federal Wilderness areas to bicycling? Our Adirondack State Land Master Plan echoes the federal Wilderness Act of 1964. Bicycling in Wilderness areas is disallowed in our federal and Adirondack Wilderness (and Primitive, Canoe) areas because bikes are gear-leveraged mechanical transport, a highly complex machine, just not a motorized one. And machines – motorized or not – cancel out the values and benefits of an enduring wilderness, those very rare places where human beings exercise humility and are not allowed to dominate the landscape as we do everywhere else on earth.

The bill now before the Congress – sponsored by U.S. Senators Lee and Hatch of Utah – is artfully called the “Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Act” to mask its true purpose, to mechanize Wilderness and erase the very reasons the federal legislation exists, to preserve natural qualities and processes in wilderness ecosystems where human influences are minimized or non-apparent. Once fat tired bikes are authorized in Wilderness, all manner of other mechanized and then motorized devices will follow, and all manner of “trail maintenance” will be eventually allowed as well. The camel will be in the tent. Americans who treasure the values and experiences of wildness, whether they recreate there or not, or whether they simply wish to know it will remain for their grandchildren to experience, will be the losers.

Will the Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency and Commissioner of Environmental Conservation write to Senators McConnell, Schumer and Gillibrand to oppose this bill?

The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan is consciously modeled after the 1964 Wilderness Act. That act bans all types of bicycles as well as all other forms of mechanical transportation in designated Wilderness. Section 4(c) of that act states, “[T]here shall be…no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.”

Furthermore, the Congress stated the purpose of the Wilderness Act was, in part, to protect these areas from “expanding settlement and growing mechanization…. For over a half century, the Wilderness Act has protected wilderness areas designated by Congress from mechanization and mechanical transport, even if no motors were involved with such activities. This has meant, as Congress intended, that Wildernesses have been kept free from bicycles and other types of mechanization and mechanical transport. The “benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness” would be forever lost by allowing mechanized transport in these areas.

The same would be true in the Adirondack Park’s Wilderness areas. If the Congress gutted the Wilderness Act, on which the authors of the State Land Master Plan consciously modeled this part of our Executive Law, how long would it take for Governor Cuomo to feel the pressure and ask his agencies to go beyond what they did last winter – amending the State Land Master Plan to allow bicycling in just two Primitive areas (Essex Chain of Lakes and Pine Lake)? How long would it take for a Governor to seek to amend the Master Plan to authorize bicycling in all Primitive Areas and Canoe Areas and in Wilderness areas, also?

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve echoes what Wilderness Watch writes about this federal bill. At a time when wilderness and wildlife are under increasing pressures from human populations, growing mechanization, and a rapidly changing climate, the last thing our Adirondack and national wilderness needs is to be invaded by mountain bikes and other machines.“Mountain bikes,” wrote George Nickas of Wilderness Watch, “are exactly the kind of mechanical devices and mechanical transport that Congress intended to keep out of Wilderness in passing the Wilderness Act.  Mountain bikes have their place, but that place is not inside Wilderness areas.”

This message is precisely what several enthusiastic mountain bikers delivered to the Adirondack Park Agency during hearings in January, 2016. We love to mountain bike, they said, but we also love wilderness. Given all of the thousands of opportunities and environments out there to ride, there is absolutely no reason to open up our rare, precious wilderness to mountain bikes.

Unfortunately, our APA caved into pressure and for the first time in history weakened the State Land Master Plan’s emphasis on wilderness protection by opening Pine Lake and Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive areas not just to bicycling but to motorized maintenance of those bike routes. The APA could have gone much further, but were constrained from doing so – constrained ultimately by what the Master Plan states and the enduring popularity of our “forever wild” clause and areas classified and managed as wilderness in this state. If the Congress opens up our federal Wilderness areas to bicycling, all bets are off for “forever wild” Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe areas.

Governor Cuomo, we ask the NYS Adirondack Park Agency and NYS DEC to write letters in opposition to the “Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Act.” Please issue a press release when they do. New York State should be proud and protective of our wilderness areas (after all, the 1964 Federal Wilderness Act was modeled after New York State’s Article XIV), and clear about the enduring benefits that all Forest Preserve including wilderness areas provide to all of us. Stand up for New York and make us a Wilderness leader once again, Governor. No bikes in Wilderness. In advance, thank you.

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Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest PreserveDuring Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history. Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

79 Responses

  1. Max says:

    Much ado about nothing. Bicycling in nature is healthy and no worse for the environment than hiking or riding a horse. Nothing in this bill “guts” the Wilderness Act. That’s just a bunch of hyperbole aimed to get fanatics riled up.

    Read the bill. It opens zero Wilderness to bicycling if the local land manager says “nope, still no bikes.”


  2. Jan S says:

    Just hikers, paddlers, campers that carry-in & carry-out, please. If folks want to bike on snow mobile trails and roads, designated those trails, and for non-motorized fat tire bikes only, not motored bikes, keep it quiet in 3 seasons. Save our quality hiking trails, save on # of rescues too.

    • Boreasfisher says:

      Exactly. Wilderness is a vanishingly small part of our remaining undeveloped landscape, and it will only maintain its value and character in solitude and biodiversity if it continues to be protected from mechanized access. There are plenty of available trails already open to bikes.

  3. Curt Austin says:

    Replace the words here with the correct on-the-ground vision: people quietly moving along long-established roads on bicycles, stopping occasionally to enjoy the sights many miles beyond where they would choose to hike.

    It remains a legitimate view that this should not be allowed, or be more tightly regulated by the proposed law. But there are other legitimate views as well. (I’ll mention two important to me: walking on roads is boring and hurts my feet.) The trick to forming a reasonable opinion about the subject is to start with an accurate vision of what we’re talking about.

    So, put the abstract and scary words aside, close your eyes, and imagine yourself sitting in random locations in the subject wilderness. Better yet, go visit those locations. Wait for reality to settle in. You can then accurately balance the pros and cons of the issue. You should do that for yourself using your own values, but nobody is entitled to get their way in a democracy, so it’s helpful to consider a wider range of values.

  4. Peter D says:

    Okay, so lets start by just accepting that I am a romantic. I believe in designated Wilderness for the same reasons that Bob Marshall did. I believe in the ability of nature to restore us, and I believe that the affects of unconfined recreation and self-reliance are good things. I guess I am not asking anyone else to believe as I do – but this is where I am.

    I am also a mountain biker. I love single track and I love to grind gravel on the endless easement and wild forest roads we are blessed to have at our disposal in the northeast.

    My concern is not that Wilderness and mountain biking cannot exist in the same world. My concern is that allowing these tiny dilutions of the Wilderness concept will have the effect that slowly boiling the frog would. Could a reasonable person learn to live with bikes in Wilderness – sure. Could that same person also be convinced the next time a small reasonable exception is asked for…and the one after that, etc until there is no such thing as designated Wilderness. Yeah, I am afraid that’s possible

  5. Bob Rainville says:

    Religion is not dead in America…it’s actually just taken on a different facade.

    I have posted several scientific studies several times on this forum that refute the repeated mantra of the “bikes=bad hiker=good” crowd. It appears they do not get read in any way (a few did, but only read what they wanted to read). Otherwise the rhetoric would change…you can’t expose yourself to information such as that and, at the very least, not question the sanctity of the “wilderness-compatible” endeavors.

    Bikes are not the enemy of wilderness in any shape or form. The lumbering status-symbol car or SUV or whatever you drive to the trailhead is. The 2nd home or camp is. The hordes of city-dwellers that live their manic consumption based life 90+% of the time and remotely demand that the ADK park become a museum piece for their folly are. Let’s keep those out of the park. Or better yet, here’s a compromise, ride a bike to the trailhead with your epoxy-toxic ultralight canoe in tow with the kitchen sink inside said canoe. Or ride in with your life-support system (aka backpack, free of any mechanization) and then go hike. Or maybe actually ride one of these environment-destroying beasts in the woods….you may change your convictions.

    • Boreas says:


      Apparently people have differing views of what wilderness is. I doubt you are going to change that. Many view wilderness in terms of what human activities can be enjoyed there, while others prefer a wilderness with humans as simply observers. Basically, Type A and Type B personality differences.

      • Bob Rainville says:

        “Wilderness”, (like religion or “god”) is a human construct. It’s existence indicates that it is a thing separate and extrinsic from humanity and therefore “subject” to the hubris of humanity’s collective brain and all it can rationalize and conceive of. This applies to all extremes of this viewpoint. It will always be a perverted viewpoint at the whim of the viewer. Some believe we are a virus and a “scourge” of existence. Some believe “wilderness” to be merely a resource without limit. Some actually have no opinion and regurgitate what others say. Beauty and utility is in the eye of the beholder; “nature” cares not, it’s directive is to adapt as it has for millennia.
        Therefore, I would not be so foolish as to believe I can sway someone’s view on such a matter.

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Bob, the majority of those studies have been conducted to support the needs of IMBA and other mountain bike proponents.

      Anyone who has worked on trails can clearly see the differing needs for trail configuration based on the activity.

      Would the mountain bike community be willing to accept the substantial seasonal trail closures frequently imposed by land managers on mountain biking to preserve the trail tread? These seasonal closures are used in regions with far less sensitive soils than those within the Blue Line.

      I am a long-time mountain biker but strongly support keeping these machines out of designated Wilderness.

      • Bob Rainville says:

        So you read these studies I’ve posted before? It appears you haven’t, otherwise you wouldn’t/couldn’t make that IMBA claim. A few were meta analyses and original research. That’s an old argument. An easy way to ignore results you dislike. Of course IMBA has funded studies…

        I have worked on and made trails and, yes, there are differing trail CONFIGURATION needs. But not because bikes subject the land to exponentially higher erosional forces as is falsely echoed, but due to differences in how and when forces are applied, etc. I have many, many pics of tire tracks next to footfall tracks in similar soil conditions. Sometimes the tire displaces more soil, sometimes the footfall. And the studies pretty much mirror my own personal observations accumulated over DECADES of engaging in ALMOST ALL the activities allowed in the ADK’s and elsewhere.

        Unfortunately, I have to question your self-assigned label of “long-time mountain biker”, as you refer to the mountain bike community as something you are not part of. As an avid “mountain biker”, you should be able to answer that question yourself. Likewise, as a “hiker”, does the hiking community adhere to trail closures and required voluntary maintenance? The answer there is “not always”. That is, unfortunately, human nature. Yet we do not apply this in the conversation…hikers/backpackers are exempt from this standard.

        • Paul says:

          The problem is that is the Adirondacks we don’t really have trail closures. There are just suggestions to avoid certain trails at certain altitudes during things like mud season. This is basically ignored by many hikers,

          • Bob Rainville says:

            Yes, and thus a double standard.
            Just as I observe the conditions of a trail I ride, so I will likewise for a trail I hike, portage or run. Trail ethics and physics should be universally observed. No “group” gets a bye.

            Some hiking trails are in excellent condition, some not so much and some very poor. And yet I do not rail against “hiking” or suggest banishment or exclusion when I see an overused trail. Sometimes we can be a victim of our own success. Everything breaks down. Everything. That is the norm. Preservationism flies in the face of the natural order. All life as we know it exists because of change and adaptation. A static, rigid mind eschews change and seeks a reality encased in amber.

        • Todd Eastman says:

          Yup, read them all and have used them for planning documents. The studies do not reflect how biking actually alters trails nor do the studies or mtn bike trail design manuals address how existing hiking trails can be modified to handle both hiking and biking without becoming as series of low-angle switchbacks.

          • Bob Rainville says:

            LOL…you read them “all”, huh? And they’re all IMBA backed with an agenda? Now you’ve lost any credibility. Faux “mountain biker” label for your rhetoric eh?
            You didn’t read ANYTHING I posted links to!
            Why did I think I could actually have a reasonable conversation here…

    • AG says:

      Oh I get it… Keep out the city dwellers who pay most of the taxes in the state and carry it economically..? But yes – the main reason to really visit the ADK’s is for all the “closest to natural state” wilderness. Without it – it’s just another park.

      • Bob Rainville says:

        Relax…hyperbole with a purpose. Was intended to cause thought that may deviate from the echo chamber (as far as this topic goes).

        Way too much misinformation and deliberate misdirection in this topic.

        Visit all you want, buy all the damn homes and property you want. Drive your car(s) all over the roads to the multitude of trailheads. But don’t claim some ethical superiority…you’re (not you personally) still a stranger in a strange land. You pack technology in and pack it out. You can do the 9 carries because of high technology. Multi-day trips…technology. Turn the mirror on yourself (again, not you personally) when you claim some other user is an affront to “wilderness ethic”.
        It’s still a “park” whether you like it or not.

    • adkDreamer says:

      @Bob Rainville – I am new to this topic and would be grateful for the links to your scientific studies.

      • Bob Rainville says:

        I will sometime today. They don’t allow transfer of files here, only links. I have many as files on my HD. I’ll add them in my old blog that I haven’t updated in a while…

      • Bob Rainville says:




        Here are 3 “recent” ones that review prior studies and compare different users’ impact. The British study discusses psychology and perceived impact. Lots to read.

        • adkDreamer says:


          • Bob Rainville says:

            No problem. After all the reading, you will see there are gaps in the research and a few inconsistencies in findings. No slam-dunk conclusions can be made.
            But the overall trend in findings is that bikes fall short of the monsters they are made out to be…more in common with footfall travel than is preached.

            • Peter D says:


              Is it really your observation that people are anti bikes or just pro maintenance of the hard fought for provisions of the Wilderness Act? I love my bikes – and I love the defined qualities of designated Wilderness. There are more places for me to ride than I have years/time to ride them – why does this have to be a fight?

              • Bob Rainville says:

                My position is that folks don’t look inward and question their own beliefs and motives. They are quick to put themselves in the “good guy” category and hence never feel the need to apply the “rules” to themselves. They have a fight (everyone needs an enemy, right?)
                Wilderness, as this discussion is concerned, is a human construct. Period. It is romanticized and subject to the whim of human emotion. The vast majority of those who clamor to keep “bikes out of the wilderness” do not realize that they do not live symbiotically with nature and actually have no skills to do so. They are visitors in a museum. They move on tracks within the museum (trails) and apply rules similar to a museum (don’t touch, just look, let the curators clean and “maintain”, etc.). It is something only a person completely removed from the process can see as “real wilderness”. Like a zoo. You get the picture…I’m rambling.
                So when said visitor gets on their moral high horse pointing their crooked finger and flinging crap rationalizations at others that do not apply to them, my brain goes into convulsions. Hate hate hate snowmobiles and ATV’s? Not so much when your sorry ass gets hauled out by one and saves your life.
                Unbroken, unadulterated wilderness is absolutely wonderful. Actually, IT IS THE DEFAULT STATE OF AFFAIRS!! We can identify car models more readily than basic trees or plants. From the time europeans have arrived, we have cleared it, tamed it and paved it to a point where it is now an abstract idea. Like food. This is why food is now something special. We don’t hunt anymore (those that do are looked down upon) and we are enlightened to eat “artisanal-organic everything-free” stuff that was just “food” 100 years ago.
                So when someone adorned with the trappings of modern outdoor pursuits tells me that my bike merely placed within the boundaries of “wilderness” is the antithesis of “wilderness” I cry BS. And, no, I’m not implying the opposite as some simple-minded folks would now say…”oh, so you want bikes, ATV’s, motorboats everywhere?”. No. I nor anyone I ride with wants trails up Marcy, nor do we want to ride all the overused trails within the high peaks. Why don’t we start with just being able to link up and simply CROSS wilderness areas? We don’t want big artificial jumps and ramps and skinnies strewn about.
                I’ll end it here. Gotta go ride with my pup in a non-wilderness area where I’ll likely see a moose (for real). I live very close to the Sable Highlands area , which is teeming with wildlife and free of the throngs of tourists that seek “wilderness”.

  6. drdirt says:

    What., no train people piping up? Shouldn’t they be suggesting side-by-side?

  7. Paul says:

    Dave, do you think that other mechanized things should be banned from Wilderness areas as well? Or just the ones involved with transport? Here in NY there is even one mechanized device for transport that I can think of that is allowed in Wilderness areas – a wagon. Canoe carts I think are also allowed. On the non-transport side things like very sophisticated mechanized guns and scopes are allowed and encouraged. Didn’t you write here about how your friend used a wagon to transport materials to his hunting camp each year?

  8. Ed Zahniser says:

    Excellent statement, Dave, thanks so much. Who knew that the fluke approval of snowmobiles way back when would lead to 12-foot-wide roads for snow machines being cut through Forever Wild forest lands today? And the federal Lee/Hatch bill’s backers are basing their argument on low-level US Forest Service officials’ decisions — later struck down by the courts and also repudiated by members of Congress — that the 1964 Wilderness Act did not ban mechanized vehicles, only motorized vehicles. This bill is yet another Trojan horse leering at wilderness protection.

  9. Tom Payne says:

    Welcome mountain bikers to the second class dirty and unwashed citizens of the Adirondack Park. While hiking trail destruction goes unnoticed in the halls of power in Albany because of the unbridled Environmental Lobby power. Oh that’s right having hiking trails that are fifty years old so they get a pass. When is the next high peaks kegger? I hope you mountain bikers get some organization, lawyers and lobbyists. Welcome to Albany.

    • John Warren says:

      Tom Payne is the fake name of a representative of a major snowmobile lobbying group.

    • Boreas says:

      We are still awaiting an answer regarding what specific hiking trail destruction you are referring to. And are you saying sledders do not drink & ride?

      • Tom Payne says:

        Funny but all others on here live by aliases. Only the ones that speak up are singled out. You told me that it is all volunteers doing hiking trail work. Funny I checked the NYSDEC website an find several single source contracts (no bid) granted to the Adirondack Mountain Club. They read as follows C008661, 11/10/2015; C008661, 02/11/2014; C006598 7/23/2008 for trail maintenance in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Sure hope your putting you hours in. And where is those standards if the NYSDEC is paying? As for pictures of illegal hiking trails have plenty stored away for a rainy day in Albany. Try the high peaks there is plenty of evidence of the doutlet standard.

        • Boreas says:

          I am sure you are aware I said no such thing. I said DECADES ago I volunteered for trailwork – I did not say anything about current contracts or manpower agreements – real or imagined. At the time, and still now, DEC doesn’t have the manpower to keep trails maintained properly, so they ask for help from hiking clubs, but at DEC’s direction.

          But we are still awaiting specifics on trails being destroyed and who is destroying them. Are you referring to illegal herd paths??

          Also please explain the double standard you refer to in the High Peaks.

  10. Nick says:

    The Bill is S.3205

  11. Todd Eastman says:

    The management of Wilderness would have to be completely reconfigured to meet the special needs of a user group that can day tour far larger tracts than hikers or horses. The planning for the entire structure of Wilderness as a land management category would have to go back to ground zero as the result of the introduction of a constantly evolving mechanized device.

    Congress got this right with the Wilderness Act. NYS should similarly not screw with the highest level of land prescription.

    Biking is an awesome activity but preserving Wilderness is a more important goal.

    • Boreas says:

      Well said. Until other animals begin using the wheel or boats, I feel ideally we should play by their rules in strict wilderness areas and limit our locomotion to travel by foot. I also think we should even reconsider allowing paddling/sailing sports on wilderness waters (gasp!).

      Perhaps we should be considering re-writing the statutes to be more specific as to what activities are allowed and which are not to facilitate proper land classification. This may ultimately result in less land classified as wilderness, but at least it wouldn’t be compromised. Vague laws are always the subject of controversy.

      • Paul says:

        I think that is the Follensby tract gets the Wilderness designation that some would like to see a stretch of the Raquette river would become wilderness and the 90 miler canoe race from Old Forge to Saranac Lake will have to end. I don’t think that organized sporting events like that are allowed in Wilderness.

        • Boreas says:

          You wouldn’t think so, but didn’t there used to be X-country foot races in the HPW? I want to say it was around Keene Valley & the Great Range. Maybe it still is run, I don’t know.

          • Paul says:

            There is some other kind of race now- I think in the southern part of the Adirondacks. But that may be on Wild Forest land where I think you can get a TRPermit for it. We have seen lots of stuff done in the Adirondacks where the rules were bent. Maybe that is why the races are no longer. But I am just speculating. I think trail running on those eroded trails in the HPW with all the exposed roots is crazy. Maybe they couldn’t get the insurance for the event!

    • Bob Rainville says:

      Sorry Todd I disagree. I disagree with the superlatives “entire”, “completely” and “ground zero”. I disagree with “special needs”. As you are using that phrase, it would apply to any user other than the established acceptable users, when in fact all users have needs of accommodation. And nowhere in this forum has a meaningful discussion occurred as to what types of trails the mountain bike “community” would shoot for. A lot of assuming going on there.

      I take the biggest issue with your last sentence.
      It’s an “awesome activity”, but has no place in wilderness. Yet needs to be banned there. Awesome (meaning great or wonderful?), but needs to be banned? But only in wilderness. And we need more wilderness. Hmmmm. Political pseudo-sincere side of the mouth speech. Administrator babble. But at least we’re reaching an absolute solution of progression here (sorry, had to use that one…NYS administrator quote).

      • Boreas says:

        I’m with Todd. Hang gliding is also an awesome activity to some. It requires no motors or wheels or loud noises. Therefore, it is suitable for wilderness – right? Same with pogo sticks. And if we don’t rule out wheels, we can also add backcountry skateboarding, roller-blading and kids on tricycles.

        • Boreas says:

          I forgot bungee jumping.

          • Bob Rainville says:

            Wonder how ice climbing was viewed before ice axes, screws, plastic boots and crampons came along? Looking up at that glorious pillar after snowshoeing in with my hand-made sinew snowshoes only to see….people. Mon dieu.
            A solo man hiking down a trail with a 16′ canoe adorning their shoulders? You actually carry that? You don’t drag it with others? You’ve covered how many miles? That fast? Mon dieu!

          • Bob Rainville says:

            And it’s apparent you’ve never roller bladed, skateboarded or ridden a kid’s tricycle. Would actually not work very well off-road. So you don’t have to lose sleep over those.

            • Boreas says:

              Au contraire – they do make off-road skateboards and fat-tire trikes for the kiddies. They wouldn’t be my first choice, and they weren’t invented when I was young, so no I haven’t used either of them. I did have a skateboard, though. I had to use it on a dirt road because our road wasn’t paved – didn’t enjoy it much. But a bike wouldn’t be my first choice for backcountry trails either.

              • Bob Rainville says:

                lol…yes, I’ve seen those. How many times did you come to a disturbingly fast halt when that tiny skateboard wheel encountered a pebble?
                No, anyone who has not invested in the skills of offroad riding would not conceive of let alone be capable of using a bike/mountain bike in the backcountry. And this is part of the problem. It’s why some are so certain of the absurdity of bikes off-road. And why the discussion is fractured. All kinds of preconceived notions are flying about.

        • Bob Rainville says:

          Yep, I’m with ya on the whole “slippery slope” idea.
          You brought up the animal analogy, so I’ll build on that. Animals relieve themselves in the woods, don’t pack-in anything and actually live there. You used the hang glider argument so….you take offense at the act of flying or the fact that we need a tool or construct to do it? If someone packed in a flying-squirrel suit and “flew” off a cliff does that offend you? You probably wouldn’t even know they did it! Snowshoe hare, bobcat, deer, moose all walk about in winter without the aid of those mechanical inventions we call snowshoes. These little inventions allow increased human access, period. Access, access, access. Get where I’m going here?
          So…our sole means of adaptation and survival is our brain. And our brain and opposable thumbs allow us to invent tools and constructs to succeed in this endeavor. But in this case, we should decide which tools are “natural” and which are “tools”? We’re now revolting against our tools? Well…only certain tools. Do you realize that almost all of our outdoor pursuits involve high technology, tools and mechanization? And please don’t get cheeky with me regarding the definition of mechanized, mechanization or machine. As applied to bicycles, the term mechanized is a creative stretch of the term as coined by those that needed a means to make the bicycle seem more offensive than it really is.
          Look at all those toys in your garage or closet and ponder walking into your utopian wilderness without them. Water filters, snowshoes, titanium or polymer cups and pans, engineered stoves that you can’t carry a conversation over, hiking poles, skis of plastic with toxic waxes, poly climbing ropes, chocks, tri-cams, crampons, pulks made of plastic or fiberglass, canoes made of graphite, kevlar, epoxy, clothing made from oil, GPS’s in the sky guiding your way, mylar pockets of calories, boots to keep our fragile feet intact and unfrozen. It’s that hypocrisy that burns me!

          • Bob Rainville says:

            And, full disclosure, I engage in all the things (except for the squirrel suit) I mentioned.

          • Boreas says:


            None of those things offend me. I just don’t believe they belong in the wilderness. You aren’t going to change my mind on that. Skis and snowshoes are not mechanical transport but flotation devices – just like big feet and shoes.

            As far as mechanized, I believe it means anything that offers a mechanical advantage over walking. And the phrase that is being scrutinized is “mechanical transport” not simple machines like inclined tools, planes, screws, and wheels – but compound machines. The problem is, this was never defined. Until it is, there will be this argument. The key isn’t arguing here, but rather to argue in Albany where people make the decisions. I am inconsequential.

            So I guess my idea of strict wilderness is different than yours. In my view, mankind would be doing no more than walking or skiing through it. I’m not keen on roped climbing or paddling here in the wilderness areas of the ADKs, but they are allowed historically, so I live with it.

            • Bob Rainville says:

              Believe it or not, I’m not trying to convince you or anyone else here of anything. I’m defending the bicycle as a viable, clean means of transportation and bearing light on hypocritical rationalizations used to remove it from the trails and the streets. The anti-mountain bike crowd is civil compared to the “keep bikes off the road” crowd. Bikes don’t belong on or off road. Did you realize that? Bikes are too slow on-road and too fast off-road. Drive your car or walk. That’s it. It’s OK we drive our motorized lazy-boys everywhere so long as you hike or walk once you get out.

              Actually, my definition of institutionalized wilderness sounds very similar to yours…actually a bit stricter. And hence my ire over what is what and which is good and bad. It’s all circular nonsense.
              How about this: ban or severely limit anything that aids a human in travel. Skis, snowshoes, canoes, bikes, poles, boats, inflatables, wheels, electronics, fixed cables, anything motorized and….manicured trails, little to no trail maintenance. Tear up roads that criss-cross the park. Hell… tear up all the maps. More remote and less hospitable = fewer people, but more rewarding.

              Because isn’t this all about limiting the human presence in the wilderness?

            • AG says:

              Irrespective of this overrall argument – many people don’t realize the ecological benefit to EVERYONE – when we leave parts of the earth untouched by human hands. People don’t understand how interconnected the globe is. Sand from the Sahara desert ends up in South America. Loss of Amazon Rainforest affects everyone on the planet (through the gases in the air to rainfall). We just don’t get it though… The human appetite for conquering is insatiable.

              • Bob Rainville says:

                I agree completely.
                It appears we, as a species, are inclined to dominate and often fail to recognize the inescapable interconnectedness of it all (and all of us). And, unfortunately, we have completely removed ourselves from actually living within the wilderness we now yearn. It’s ironic. And hence the perverted, museum- view of wilderness and modern wilderness “recreation”.
                The pendulum swings on.

              • Hope says:

                “Conquering” the wilderness is just not something that resonates with me. I’m more interested in the experience be it hike,bike or whatever. I could care about conquering anything. I just enjoy the woods and waters in whatever way suits me at that moment. Sometimes on foot sometimes by bike or skis or canoe or ATV or snowmobile. It’s more about the environment and the company. Sometimes it’s just sitting on my dock and enjoying the view.

                • AG says:

                  And when a million other people want to do the same thing it defeats the purpose… That’s my point. We only think from our own perspective. We don’t think about our fellow man (who is not of the same mind as us) – nor do we think much about the future generations.

                  • Hope says:

                    The recreation that I participate in is done legally on both public and private lands. I believe in zoning and appropriate use classifications. The UMP process allows for those uses to be debated and determined. Not everyone will be happy with the results. New lands must be classified and that classification should be discussed among all stakeholders to determine what that appropriate classification should be. Personally, I believe that those discussions should be part of the acquisition process and not a determination after the fact. Herein lies most of the issues with the FinchPryn properties. The classification proposals were negotiated prior to acquisition and certain environmental groups didn’t get what they wanted so they are using any means at their disposal to get what they believe is appropriate. Others are pushing their own proposals. I hope that bikes will be able to utilize some ( not all) of the roads and that the community connector snowmobile trails get built. Neither will devastate the environment and both will go a long way towards mutual respect.IMHO. When there is no snow there will be no snowmobiles.

                    • AG says:

                      Right – but you are discussing the current issues in the ADK’s – which is why in my original comment to Boreas I stated “Irrespective of this overall argument”… My point was that forgetting all of the current issues – there is an importance to the human race and to the planet that some parts of our planet are left untouched by man. We humans have shown time and again – that we will overuse and mistreat our natural systems – that happens on the land and in the waters… We don’t when we are forced not to. That’s how we got the ADK Park in the first place.
                      Now if you want my personal opinion regarding the current issues – well that is informed by my scientific understanding that it is important to preserve parts that humans are not allowed to alter… In NY the ADK’s come the closest we have to something like that (aside from the NYC watershed in the Hudson Valley). In my personal viewpoint – in the areas where we allow humans in our “natural areas” – the less mechanization the better. I’m actually not against bicycles… Bicycles are undoubtedly less intrusive and destructive than motorized ATV’s and snowmobiles.. But based on our human history – I also understand why some would fear that allowing bicycles would “open the floodgates”.

  12. Paul says:

    What we should ban are ski poles in the summer time. Those people drive me crazy! Just hike already!

    • Bob Rainville says:

      Agreed. Mechanization of the appendages, like Edward Scissorhands.

    • Boreas says:

      They may make it easier on the knees & back, but it just transfers the stress to the wrists, arms & shoulders – likely resulting in even more arthritic joints down the road.

  13. Bob Rainville says:

    “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
    ― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

  14. Charlie S says:

    > Bob Rainville says “Some believe we are a virus and a “scourge” of existence.”

    I am one of those who believe.I have been around long enough to know that humans are by far the biggest threat to the existence of all life on this planet.

    > Bob also says “Religion is not dead in America…it’s actually just taken on a different facade.”

    Religion is not dead Bob it is ever alive and yes it takes on many appearances. If religion is a formulated belief then you are as religious as they come which is not necessarily a good thing. You always seem to side with every thing that goes against the pure and simple and always you put up a defense for your limited view of things regards. Your “bikes=bad hiker=good” crowd view is stereotypical at best. You see things with industrialist’ eyes only,always your words emit an ‘unfeeling’ aura. There’s more to life than ‘us’ Bob. Evidently you cannot get beyond that!

    > You say “Beauty and utility is in the eye of the beholder; “nature” cares not, it’s directive is to adapt as it has for millennia.”

    Nature ‘will’ adapt Bob. Us! I’m not so sure about. And if we do adapt what will we be adapting to? The Garden of Eden hoped-for by the religious right whom I believe are wrong?The Dame Nature is pure and simple even with all of its complexities. The crazy ape man is a boastful,agitated arrangement of mindless neurons who have an ugly history that he has accumulated through the ages.Even with all of his complexities man is as predictable as the setting sun. We have yet to come out of the cave Bob. You’re proof of that.

    • Bob Rainville says:

      I obviously struck a cord with you. Good.
      I’m hesitant to even respond to any of your incoherent rambling.
      You’re an imbalanced zealot. Period. I’m guessing you can’t even get out of your own head long enough to comprehend any of the points I made.
      I honestly give a rat’s a$$ of your assessment of me, but I laugh because it is the opposite of everything I am.

      • Charlie S says:

        Incoherent rambling? You’re confused! This don’t surprise me.
        Zealot? Animated maybe but not an extremist like you imply. Not even close. You can give a rats ass no doubt it comes out clearly in your ramblings.
        Assessment? You’re clearly an egotist Bob and you sure as heck put up quite a commotion above. I’m insecure too don’t feel alone. I deserve the arrogance in your words above for not being more careful in my choice of words to you.

        I struck a chord with you too. I’m okay with that.

  15. Charlie S says:

    > Bob Rainville says ” I’m defending the bicycle as a viable, clean means of transportation and bearing light on hypocritical rationalizations used to remove it from the trails and the streets.”

    I don’t have to read scientific journals or peruse a thousand pages of information in books written by others to formulate an opinion on this or that matter Bob. I don’t just see see black or white thank the powers that be. I can think for myself and experience has been the greatest guide to my estimations. I’ve seen the damage done by bicycles Bob! And you’re here trying to deny what I know to be as certain as the days are long. Not only that you’re trying to convince others of your fallaciousness! The nerve!

    • Bob Rainville says:

      I have never once here nor anywhere else claimed that bikes do not “damage” the trail. That’s the second time I’ve had to say this to you and the second time you’ve accused me of that! That defies the laws of physics. Everything, including the hooves of animals or the furry little feet of chipmunks or the boots of an environmental zealot displaces soil and leaves a trace.

      “I’m here trying to deny what you know to be certain”…are you flipping’ insane?

      I’d say you too have nerve, but that takes a conscious effort. You don’t even know what you are saying…typical of zealotry.

      • Charlie S says:

        I jumped to conclusions I read too fast. I took clean to mean ‘no damage.’ At the very least you admit bikes do damage but are not as concerned about the use of them on trails like some of us are.A sorta apathy or subtle denial. You have the ‘It is what it is’ attitude. My reply to that attitude is ‘yeah but…’ You seem to be justifying the damage humans do by saying what you say above about the animals who do far less damage than we do with their little harmless light furry feet.

        Some of us see the Adirondacks in a different light than you Bob. You come off like it is okay to turn it into what you can find everywhere else. There is no defense of the Adirondacks in a clearly defined manner from you it is all about let the chips fall where they may injurious as they may be. Matter of fact you seem to have this desire to goad us who put up a defense for that haven.You just like to stir people up don’t you Bob? There’s this coldness that emanates from what you say on this site.And get rid of the zealotry thing wouldya…not even close. At the very least I’d say you’re an egomaniac.

        • Bob Rainville says:

          Yeah Charlie, I do like to stir people up. I like to stir myself up…get into the uncomfortable zone. Folks just keep reinforcing what they “know”…hang with people that agree with them, watch TV that agrees with their worldview, read news that is “right”, etc, etc. I question my own beliefs and assumptions regularly. It’s how I grow and learn.
          I will not defend myself nor my statements to you any further here. Waste of my time. You have made up your mind as to who I am and what I believe. You know me better than I do. I have written enough here on this topic…I’m not going to repeat or rephrase anything.
          I’ll be your imaginary enemy if that what you need.

          • Charlie S says:

            I question every thing myself Bob,even my own thoughts.My mind is always stirring too never shuts off. Take me with a grain of salt please. I was just rambling with words and I suppose I like to strike chords in others also.

            I have not made up my mind about you.If I sound judgemental I am not doing so as much as I am not being more careful with my spontaneous words. I do not dislike you nor do I have a grudge towards you no matter what you write.I have no idea who you are except by the few words you write here. Surely there’s much more to you than your words which ring with an air of intelligence by the way.

            There’s more to me too. I surmise we’re both good people with question marks always floating over our heads trying to make sense of it all. That sure fits me anyway.

            • Bob Rainville says:

              You made your statements about me. Now they are yours to keep.
              Although I can appreciate your explanation/apology, what you’ve done is exactly what I feel needs to be changed in our public discourse: we attack and we attack the person. Why the attack? Why do we feel the need to dehumanize? We need “the other”. Legitimizes our worldview and requires little to no reconsideration of our stance.
              For what it’s worth, there was a brief point (young and aimless, needed a “tribe”) in my life where I had more radical environmentalist leanings. I “grew” out of that only after deeper analyzation; I did not like the anger, the contrarian viewpoint. Always looking for a “problem” to reinforce my viewpoint. I did not like the “humans are viruses” viewpoint. Too extreme and too simple. Radical viewpoints define the viewer. Like any other “ism”. I’m leery of people that gravitate toward “isms” or label themselves as “_____ists”. I am ______ you are _____.
              I work in healthcare. I work in critical care. I see people at their best, their worst and their most vulnerable. I assist those struggling to enter the world, assist those fighting to not leave the world and everywhere in between. I feel that if one “dislikes” humanity, then one needs to take a good hard look in the mirror. You may not like what stares back.

              • Charlie S says:

                I like what you say Bob it hits home with me. I have my passions they come out.Generally I think i’m a rational man but there’s times I have spontaneous fits and sure my choice of words can be better. I’m not near as harsh with words as others are I try to keep it that way, and I am certainly not one for dehumanizing especially when I am hid behind a computer screen. I see where I prematurely over-judged you and the worst was me calling you an egotist.Surely you’ve been called worse.At least I did not call you a zealot.

                Life is short Bob as you well know. I’m not in healthcare but,as you,I see people at their best,their worst and their most vulnerable….sometimes in a span of just a few hours,which is to say people change like the weather. Some people do! I am put off by the nature of mankind Bob (mankind in general I should say.) I think we can do better.

                Perfection has not yet got a hold on me yet Bob I will be the first to admit that. At the same time I can look at the man in the mirror and be contented that he is not out hurting any body or thing, is not taking advantage of others, will always give others the benefit of the doubt and is far more compassionate than he is unkind. He is generous more than he is selfish and if a rich man is one who is contented with what he has than a millionaire is he.

                There’s room for improvement in me always Bob. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  16. Charlie S says:

    Bob Rainville says: “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
    ― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

    I don’t know who this Edward Abbey was or is but I can say from my own experience that ‘by far’ I see more,feel more and hear more when i’m getting around by foot moreso than when getting around by either a bicycle or horse. Not that I get around by horse but surely the sound of the clop of hooves will diminish the experience.

  17. Charlie S says:

    AG says:” People don’t understand how interconnected the globe is.”

    No they don’t AG. And certainly those who have the power to ease the burdens we’re placing upon our only home Earth don’t understand.

  18. Charlie S says:

    > Hope says:“Conquering” the wilderness is just not something that resonates with me. I’m more interested in the experience be it hike,bike or whatever. I could care about conquering anything. I just enjoy the woods and waters in whatever way suits me at that moment. Sometimes on foot sometimes by bike or skis or canoe or ATV or snowmobile. It’s more about the environment and the company.”

    AG replies: “And when a million other people want to do the same thing it defeats the purpose… That’s my point. We only think from our own perspective. We don’t think about our fellow man (who is not of the same mind as us) – nor do we think much about the future generations.”

    You are so right on cue AG! It is so good to feel not so all alone in this “All about me screw everything else” world.

    • AG says:

      “It is so good to feel not so all alone in this “All about me screw everything else” world”

      Yes – very rare in our world – but there are some out there.

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