I’ve ridden mountain bikes my entire adult life and continue to love exploring the natural world by bike. Mountain biking is a fun and exciting way to travel on our public lands. Here in western Montana, we’re fortunate to live in a place surrounded by riding opportunities. From fun single track to grinding forest roads, there are literally dozens of incredible riding experiences.

Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) represent the last vestiges of truly wild country — backcountry that offers critical security cover for wildlife, places that supports healthy watersheds, and places that supply our freezers with wild game. Places like these literally define our great state and its public land heritage.

Allowing mountain bikes into WSAs would be a victory for the few mountain bikers that may use them, but it would be a big trade-off for other user groups, wildlife and long-term protection of these special places. Especially when so many miles of ride-able trail already exist in our backyard.

Squeaky wheels often get the grease, but please don’t confuse these groups as representative of all mountain bikers. I strongly support the Bitterroot National Forest’s decision to restrict mountain bikes use in WSAs.

Wes Swaffar,


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