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Lee introduces wilderness biking bill

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wants local wilderness managers to have the ability to decide if there should be "human-powered travel," in those areas, or nonmotorized biking.

“The National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy our country’s priceless natural areas,” Lee said. “This bill would enrich Americans’ enjoyment of the outdoors by expanding recreational opportunities in wilderness areas.”

Under the bill introduced Friday, wilderness managers would have to decide within two years if routes should be open to allow nonmotorized biking, or affirmatively close the area to bicycles.

In addition, local wilderness managers would retain authority to open and close routes and regulate their use after the initial two-year window and regulate it in the manner they determine, such as requiring permits, limits on group size or speed.

The manager making that decision would be from whatever agency has jurisdiction over the land, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The bill would also allow the manager to take steps necessary to mitigate any potential environmental impact from the activity by instructing users to stay on permitted routes, educating users about best practices and providing patrol personnel. Managers could also add "natural" features to keep people on permitted routes.