By Charles Pekow — Mountain biking could be limited under a long-range plan for Custer Gallatin National Forest in Montana. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) tentatively adopted a revision of its land management plan – unless anyone objects by September 8, 2020. USFS intends to issue a final plan early next year. The plan seeks to “limit mountain bike use to approved system mountain bike routes,” to preserve wilderness.
Under the preferred alternative, bikers would have to stick to approved routes. No new routes would be allowed in the Cook Mountain, King Mountain and Tongue River Breaks Backcountry Areas. No mountain biking would be allowed in the Bad Canyon Backcountry Area, but bikers could ride near it.
“I have decided that mountain biking is no longer a suitable use in this backcountry area in order to maintain the remote backcountry character of this area,” states the Draft Record of Decision. If adopted, about 14 miles of existing trail would be closed to bikers.
And while the Lionhead wilderness area will remain open to mountain bikers, the decision warns that if riders interfere with the nature of the area, it could get closed.
As part of an education program, the also indicates trailhead information might be updated to include asking mountain bikers and other trail users to remove seeds and burrs from their tires and shoes, in order to prevent creating projects to remove or mitigate invasive species.
Think you might encounter a creature bigger than a seed? Mountain bike trails run through bear territory in the forest. To avoid spooking or getting spooked by one, the plan suggests that when trails are being planned, trailbuilders try to minimize potential bear encounters by avoiding thick vegetation and steep hills to improve sight lines; minimizing sharp turns; and avoiding noisy areas like running streams.