Date: Sat, 03 Feb 2001 09:49:18 -0800

From: Frank Lurz <>

Subject: Re: [SFB-GEN*] Wildlife Committee Resolution

Mr. Bob Solotar wrote:

> Regarding the proposed resolution to rescind the Park City agreement,

> don't we in these days of George Bush and energy crises have better

> battles to fight than this?

Mr. Solotar may be correct, but what does he suggest - that we ignore

every problem that doesn't make his top ten? Should we only devote

our attention to global warming, water pollution and over population,

and ignore strip mining and clear cutting?

Mr. Solotar adds:

> I believe we have more important issues to face than to carry the torch

> for one individual's battle against the Evil Mountain Bikers.

If Mr. Solotar speaks for the Sierra Club, then the reason for the Club's

lack of concern for the assault on the environment by the practitioners

of this destructive sport is obvious. Clearly, he hasn't the slightest

understanding of either the nature or the magnitude of the problem;

without a doubt, he hasn't any idea how many people are involved - on

either side of the argument.

Mr. Solotar states:

>Mountain biking, for better or worse, is here to stay.

Mr. Solotar's presumption may be premature. In the face of

user conflicts, trail damage, vandalism, and increasing costs,

land managers are being compelled to re-examine their policies,

and trails once open to mountain bikes are increasingly being

closed. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has already

closed seven of its preserves to this pernicious activity. Despite

opposition by pro-bike members of the Marin County Board of

Supervisors (whose junket to Europe was paid for by members

of the bike lobby) the Marin County Open Space District is currently

involved in attempts to increase enforcement and penalties for

mountain bikers whose rampant abuses of open space have reached

the breaking point. While not under current consideration, the

possibility of closing MCOSD preserves has been proposed.

Mr. Solotar says:

> We should be working with the responsible segment of the

> mountain biking community to educate the wacko bikers,

The mountain bikers' mantra, "educate, educate, educate."

We've been hearing this vacuous prattle for years.

It taxes one's credibility beyond the breaking point to accept that

fully grown adults require this "education" because they don't know

the difference between right and wrong; that they don't know why

it's wrong to destroy signs, cut down parkland trees, threaten and

harass other people, vandalize property, and endanger others by

exceeding speed limits and using trails too narrow to safely

accommodate both them and other trail users. Mountain bikers

know perfectly well that it's wrong to behave as they do, and they

do it anyway - because it's fun, because they hold their interests

above those of everyone else - and because misguided Club officers

have foolishly prostituted the Sierra Club's formerly good name to

validate an activity that is inimical to genuine environmental interests.

Mr. Solotar suggests the Club work with:

> those in the mountain biking community

> who appreciate the need to protect our open spaces.

One shakes one's head in disbelief. Were Mr. Solotar to

visit a few mountain biking web sites and read a few

mountain bike magazines he would get a clearer picture

of the absurdity of this suggestion. Mountain biking, by

its very nature, is destructive to the environment; its practitioners'

interest in protecting open space arises solely out of their selfish

need for places large enough to provide countless miles of natural

obstacle courses, race tracks, and steep slopes where, like downhill

skiers, they can attain high speeds and do their acrobatic stunts. These

people are NOT interested in protecting open space - they are

interested in converting it to giant outdoor velodromes for their

exclusive use. A weekend visit to China Camp State Park serves as

an excellent example; few, if any, on foot or horseback go there any

more since the takeover by mountain bikers.

Mr. Solotar goes on:

> The anti-mountain bike crusade carried on by selected individuals using

> the good name of the Sierra Club has only served to inflame passions on

> all sides, and alienate those responsible mountain bikers who should be

> our allies.

"Selected" individuals? Selected how? By whom? Says who? What does

Mr. Solotar imply - that Sierra Club members opposed to mountain biking

should be dismissed?

"Responsible mountain bikers?" We keep hearing lots about them. We

also hear with equal frequency about UFOs. Personally, I've never seen

a UFO, but there is not a single hike I've ever been on in the last 5 years

during which I've not been repeatedly forced off the trail by selfish,

arrogant people on bikes.

"inflame passions on all sides?" What is Mr. Solotar is worried about;

inflaming passions, or protecting the environment?

Mr. Solotar worries over:

> alienating our own members who ride mountain bikes responsibly.

Good thinking. Far better to alienate Sierra Club members who genuinely

care about the environment. Disparage them as "selected individuals"

and drive them away instead. After decades as a Sierra Club member

and hiking leader I certainly got the Club's message. When I was a

member the motto was, "Take only pictures; leave only footprints."

What is it now? "Take only action and gore photos; leave only tire ruts,

tree stumps, eroded hillsides, trampled vegetation, and silted streams?"

Yes, very, very good thinking indeed!

Frank Lurz (former Sierra Club member)