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Expansion of Pittman Robertson act and role of media in conservation

dannyb278

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Just finished listening to another great podcast. By the end of Randy's podcasts I'm ready to grab my torch and pitchfork and march on Congress. A couple comments on this weeks podcast:

1. Expanding the Pittman Robertson act to other "non-consumptinve" users. Outside Magazine recently posted an article about mountain bike access to Wilderness Areas. It turned into a very vigorous debate for both sides, with comments flying left and right. When I suggested that bikers put their money where their mouth is and push their representitives for a extra 11 percent tax on all their equipment, much like hunters have done since the 1940s.....it was nothing but crickets. Not one comment for or against. People seem to really not care what is outside of their 2 foot wide riding trail, as long as they have a trail to ride.

2. This might have been one of my favorite podcasts so far, but the last few minutes of it kind of left a bad taste in my craw. Mckean and Hal need to put their money where there mouth is as well. I believe everything they said they stood for is honest, but both of these guys bemoaned the very state of Media that they themselves encourage. Have you opened Outdoor LIfe recently? All it is is the same gear reviews, product placement, and tactics fluff pieces that we've all read a million times before. They have become the equivalent of the monthly "how to get 6 pack abs fast" articles that are on the cover of every mens health magazine, every month. Total fluff and very little substance. I don't need more reviews on gear I'm never going to buy. What I need as a reader is actual substance. So I hope those 2 actually took away something from the podcast as well, because otherwise the media is no better than politicians, saying one thing and doing another. That's my rant for the day I guess.
 
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I haven't listened to this podcast but I'll weight in on this. I think something along the lines of a tax on other sporting good equipment would be great. I'm almost exclusively a public land hunter and I work part time at a bike shop and have mountain biked something like 11 states. Its been very weird seeing Backcountry Hunters and Anglers email me conflicting information than IMBA (international mountain bike association) on wilderness designations.

Infrastructure is a huge problem in mountain biking and most often the degradation of existing trails and riding trails that were never designed for mountain bike traffic. A big movement you see in mountain biking is destination, purpose built trails even outside of the sport's mecca's in Moab, Whistler or Eastern NC. You see it in places like Southern Indiana (Brown Country) or Copper Harbor MI where the state or city hires professional mechanized trail builders to attract tourism. The flip side is while this is happening a lot of multi-use and former pirate trail systems have fallen into bad disrepair because it takes a lot of resources to chainsaw downed trees, divert bad runs and correct badly designed trails. Mountain biking more or less showed up overnight and it took a while for us to realize the consequences. Mountain bikers were young as the sport was, but most of the guys who got into the boom in the 90's are well into their 40's and much better off financially and politically than they were 20 years ago with much more potential to see the sport mature.

From an industry insider prospective, the cycling industry doesn't have a really solid business model. Most brick and mortar shops can't compete on price with Amazon, Wiggle, or Ebay retailers on anything besides complete bikes on the few brands that bother to protect them (not sold 30% under retail online). A decent amount of bike sales at this point online from SE Asia or Europe and are not based in the US so taxing them will be a pretty big hurdle. The money would have to come from the manufacturing side, not the distributors and shops.

We really need to look at the rules for designated wilderness areas because you can't use a wheel barrow to build trails or ride a mountain bike, yet there are still provisions for mineral extraction. Mountain bikes can be pretty low impact if people don't ride when trails are closed because they are really muddy. Horses are equal too or more damaging to trail than mountain bikes, but the difference is people own horses are generally quite wealthy connected people not 20 year olds making $12/hour in a shop so they can pro deal bikes below retail and ride 15 hours a week.
 
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I think that bikes should be allowed (but not e-bikes) if horses are allowed. I'm even fine it you are limited to bike specific trails. I don't see why you should restrict non motorized users basis on tradition alone. Grazing rights and horses are only allowed because of the power of agricultural and equestrian lobbies, not because of their relative impact.
 

Straight Arrow

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Although I do agree, horse use is viewed as "traditional" and seemingly widely accepted, however, I don't think you can ignore the difference between "mechanical" devices such as bikes, wheel barrows, wheeled skate boards and such as opposed to horses, mules, llamas, goats, and backpackers.

It's likely that the difference is what has established the limitations. There's also the point that there are already lots of backcountry to ride your bike, ATV, or whatever ... so why do we need to remove limitations which protect certain more pristine areas (Wilderness)? And of course, there's the "slippery slope" dynamic that is more of a reality than a strawman. The line has to be drawn somewhere and history is replete with examples of adverse unintended consequences which are irreparable once the line is crossed.

As far as the mineral extraction provisions pointed to, I think that has been a colossal mistake and actually supports the basis for limitations, rather than argues for the loosening of limitations.
 

PatrickK

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Horses are equal too or more damaging to trail than mountain bikes, but the difference is people own horses are generally quite wealthy connected people not 20 year olds making $12/hour in a shop so they can pro deal bikes below retail and ride 15 hours a week.


I know a lot of people that own horses. None of them are wealthy or connected.

Patrick
 
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How is allowing mountain biking worse than having small aircraft landing strips to access a wilderness area? How is that not mechanical? Is using a canoe mechanical?

My view around mountain biking access centers around a couple of key points. (1)Mountain bikes are human powered, in a lot of the terrain they are hardly faster than walking/running. (2) they don't damage trails to any degree a horse doesn't (3) they are quiet (4) mountain biking is a young sport, but IMBA has done a very good job outlining trail building and use guidelines to minimize mountain bike impact. (6) Most bike access issues either come from insurance liability, a smaller amount come from hikers and horseback rider conflicts (7)Mountain biking gets a bad rep in the eyes a traditionalist when they see the Red Bull Rampage or some extreme fringe of the sport. That's like comparing a horse trail rider to a rodeo rider.

Personally I just don't see why we can't have wilderness that I can enjoy both hunting and mountain biking. Anyone who says bikers just care about the 2 ft wide trail hasn't ridden the epic rides like Trail 401 to Gothic near Crested Butte or similar high alpine summer rides.

I don't fundamentally think that mountain biking and hunting are exclusive activities. I have killed deer in the Mark Twain National forest from the same trailhead I mountain biked the rest of the year.

I know a lot of people that own horses. None of them are wealthy or connected.

So you've never see the out of town guy that shows up, buys a farm and puts meticulous white fences all the way around it for his horse and likely hires the people you are mentioning to do the work for him? A 60k F350 to pull the trailer and aluminum horse trailer don't come cheap. It was brought up in the Durfee hills thread that owning a light aircraft is cheaper than horses.
 

RobG

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2. This might have been one of my favorite podcasts so far, but the last few minutes of it kind of left a bad taste in my craw. Mckean and Hal need to put their money where there mouth is as well. I believe everything they said they stood for is honest, but both of these guys bemoaned the very state of Media that they themselves encourage. Have you opened Outdoor LIfe recently? All it is is the same gear reviews, product placement, and tactics fluff pieces that we've all read a million times before. They have become the equivalent of the monthly "how to get 6 pack abs fast" articles that are on the cover of every mens health magazine, every month. Total fluff and very little substance. I don't need more reviews on gear I'm never going to buy. What I need as a reader is actual substance. So I hope those 2 actually took away something from the podcast as well, because otherwise the media is no better than politicians, saying one thing and doing another. That's my rant for the day I guess.

I thought Mckean's point was that if they filled Outdoor Life with conservation stuff nobody would buy it. It was an explanation as to why the media can't do more. We should have some sympathy his position. He has to make a living just like we do and his "job" is to appeal to a wide audience. Another way to look at it: He has chosen a career to sell a product: magazines. Similarly I've chosen a career to be an electrical engineer. Would you expect me to change my customer base to people who are interested in conservation? I'd go broke. Appealing to those people isn't what my job is about. Even Randy's show is pretty much about hunting, not conservation. And his day job as a CPA is to do taxes, not convincing his customers to be more environmentally active. It is a little abstract, but does this make sense?
 

Bambistew

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Mountain bikes can be pretty low impact if people don't ride when trails are closed because they are really muddy. Horses are equal too or more damaging to trail than mountain bikes, but the difference is people own horses are generally quite wealthy connected people not 20 year olds making $12/hour in a shop so they can pro deal bikes below retail and ride 15 hours a week.

My experience is quite different than yours, both here in AK and in MT.

I live in an area where both horses and MB use is quite high. The amount of trail degradation between the two is obvious, and goes to the MB hands down. MB tails end up being about 2x wider than horse/foot trails. Course there are about 20x as many bikers so that would have a lot to do with it. Is one worse than the other? More people = more degradation. Also the "don't ride when its muddy," only works with about 5% of the MB population rest don't give a fugg.

I also hear the sniveling by the MB crowd about not getting to ride where they want, its very similar to the ATV crowd. There are literally 10,000s of miles of bike trails, but they want to ride on all of them including the wilderness? My experience is horses and bikes don't mix too well, usually because the bikers have to ride as fast as possible on the trails, and come flying around corners. I've been nearly hit just hiking more than once. I might just push the next one off the trail, who comes by at breakneck speed... Why is it so bad to have a place where only one mode of transpiration is/isn't allowed?

Horse people are wealthy? That's some funny chit. While some maybe, its been my experience that horse people are usually about as broke as the $12hr kid... which I riding a bike that cost more than my pickup.

YMMV
 

Straight Arrow

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..
small aircraft landing strips to access a wilderness area ...
If you are referring to Schafer Meadows landing strip in Montana, that is really an anomaly and not representative of most Wilderness Areas. The Durfee hills is not Wilderness by a long shot.

I think you are confusing the term wilderness with backcountry. The limitations for designated Wilderness Areas, such as the Bob Marshall WA and others throughout the country have been established for protection and have been continuously challenged with technological advances and by those of whatever special interests. I think once special interest groups get their way and ride their bikes, ATVs, take their generators in or whatever ... then true "Wilderness" will be gone and we will go the way of European models, from whose mistakes we have learned. Why do you think people come to the USA and marvel at what has been established as limitations and has protected these special areas?

Argue away ... but read what you write. It is obviously self-serving and shortsighted.
 

RobG

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How is allowing mountain biking worse than having small aircraft landing strips to access a wilderness area? How is that not mechanical? Is using a canoe mechanical?
Aircraft imparts are extremely localized. Plus these things were grandfathered in, and not without controversy. It was a concession to get the wilderness. Same with grazing and horses, even lodges. Part of the argument against mountain biking is that they will similarly be grandfathered in to areas where they are found to cause damage. You can argue that their impact is small, but they can cover such large distances compared to hikers and horses that overall impact can be significant. Weeds come to mind. And as technology improves and the sport becomes more accessible it will be a bigger issue. And in the future there will be multitudes of toys that will use the same argument that you are using for bikes. As Straight Arrow said, it is a slippery slope and it is an easy line to draw to prevent future unintended consequences.

Don't get me started on canoes in Yellowstone backcountry...
 

RobG

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.. If you are referring to Schafer Meadows landing strip in Montana, that is really an anomaly and not representative of most Wilderness Areas. The Durfee hills is not Wilderness by a long shot.
To be fair, the Idaho Wildernesses have a lot of backcountry strips. You can even fly into the Middle Fork Lodge and have someone pick you up in a truck! I think they have electricity too. But these things were grandfathered in.
 

Straight Arrow

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To be fair, the Idaho Wildernesses have a lot of backcountry strips.
I guess it depends on your perspective of "a lot of". Yes there are some and yes, some folks access by air ... but exponentially more access happens by horse or foot in true Wilderness Areas.

We do agree this "slippery slope" is one, once selected, which will undoubtedly gain momentum of precedence for each and every mode of travel advocate who wants to do it "my way" ... selfishly and with little regard to next year, let alone when my great granddaughter wants to experience the backpack trip adventures heard about from me.
 

Ben Lamb

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I thought Mckean's point was that if they filled Outdoor Life with conservation stuff nobody would buy it. It was an explanation as to why the media can't do more. We should have some sympathy his position. He has to make a living just like we do and his "job" is to appeal to a wide audience. Another way to look at it: He has chosen a career to sell a product: magazines. Similarly I've chosen a career to be an electrical engineer. Would you expect me to change my customer base to people who are interested in conservation? I'd go broke. Appealing to those people isn't what my job is about. Even Randy's show is pretty much about hunting, not conservation. And his day job as a CPA is to do taxes, not convincing his customers to be more environmentally active. It is a little abstract, but does this make sense?

I would say that Outdoor Life & Field & Stream do more conservation work than other commercial hunting magazines. It might not be in the magazine, but the websites offer great content related to what's happening across the conservation spectrum. OL's Open Country Blog has been very influential at the national level, as has F&S's Conservationist Blog. I've seen both magazines take some tough stands on issues that could have been costly in terms of ad sales and influence.

Full disclosure - I used to write for the OL Open Country Blog, but haven't in almost a year.
 

dannyb278

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I thought Mckean's point was that if they filled Outdoor Life with conservation stuff nobody would buy it. It was an explanation as to why the media can't do more. We should have some sympathy his position. He has to make a living just like we do and his "job" is to appeal to a wide audience. Another way to look at it: He has chosen a career to sell a product: magazines. Similarly I've chosen a career to be an electrical engineer. Would you expect me to change my customer base to people who are interested in conservation? I'd go broke. Appealing to those people isn't what my job is about. Even Randy's show is pretty much about hunting, not conservation. And his day job as a CPA is to do taxes, not convincing his customers to be more environmentally active. It is a little abstract, but does this make sense?

I can definitely sympathize. I work in the oil and gas industry acting as an environmental analyst for proposed pipeline and energy projects while at the same time considering myself a conservationist. I get what your aiming at with your business analogy, but the fact of the matter is that business like outdoor magaiznes and mountain bike companys profit from our federal lands. They need to more to promote and preserve those places, and not just promote products. I can also understand that they are just 1 person in a large machine that is print media, but it continues to ring slightly untrue to me when a major editor of a major magazine espouses something they SHOULD be doing, but are failing to do so.

Your also missing A HUGE part of Randy's show if you think it isn't about conservation. That's EXACTLY what it is about, channeled through the lens of hunting. Every episode seems to begin and end on CONSERVING public land, wild spaces and the animals that we hunt on them.
 
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RobG

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I would say that Outdoor Life & Field & Stream do more conservation work than other commercial hunting magazines. It might not be in the magazine, but the websites offer great content related to what's happening across the conservation spectrum. OL's Open Country Blog has been very influential at the national level, as has F&S's Conservationist Blog. I've seen both magazines take some tough stands on issues that could have been costly in terms of ad sales and influence.

Full disclosure - I used to write for the OL Open Country Blog, but haven't in almost a year.
I was going to mention your work on the blog but decided the topic was more about the magazine and what Mckean said.

Here is an article from Sep. Peterson's Hunting magazine that I ran into the other day (forgot to get the first page). I don't know if they are less afraid to discuss politics or I just caught an isolated article.
 

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Ben Lamb

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I was going to mention your work on the blog but decided the topic was more about the magazine and what Mckean said.

Here is an article from Sep. Peterson's Hunting magazine that I ran into the other day (forgot to get the first page). I don't know if they are less afraid to discuss politics or I just caught an isolated article.

Personally, I think it's different for Magazines to talk about tag allocation and the backroom political deals at the state level versus the public land/ natural resource issues at the federal level. For sportsmen, the state level is often times viewed as much more important than the fed issues, and it's easy to lump people who are passionate about public land in with "gang green" rather than have an honest discussion about land management, funding, etc. They're two different worlds.

It's also important to recognize that magazines are only one aspect of a publishing company's presence. I'd be curious to see how many access content through digital media versus print and what those age demographics are.

At any rate, I do agree with the OP that the hunting media should be more involved in the discussion.
 
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So the argument against mountain bikes is we grandfathered in horses, grazing and landing strips but we can't change anything today because its a slippery slope. So by that logic generational changes in values have no place in our political system?

What I don't really understand is how mountain bikes get lumped in with ATV's. The damage factor isn't of the same magnitude and ATV's just require you be a lazy blob pushing the throttle with your thumb. Mountain bikes require you exert yourself pretty heavily because riding a 2.4" nobby tire isn't exactly efficient.

I've seen horses destroy trails pretty bad as they punch 6" deep 4" diameter holes in the ground.

There were a lot of mistakes made early on in the mountain biking world regard to the sustainability of trail systems and usage that can be fixed moving forward. Taxing the equipment to pay for trail improvements would be welcome.
 

RobG

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It's also important to recognize that magazines are only one aspect of a publishing company's presence. I'd be curious to see how many access content through digital media versus print and what those age demographics are.
I subscribed to Field and Stream several years ago because it was one of my favorites as a kid, and it might spark some interest with Sam. My first impression of was that their readers must now be primarily tobacco users that need help with their sex lives, and not in just one way. I was too embarrassed to let Sam read it, but now it seems better.
 

Ben Lamb

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So the argument against mountain bikes is we grandfathered in horses, grazing and landing strips but we can't change anything today because its a slippery slope. So by that logic generational changes in values have no place in our political system?

What I don't really understand is how mountain bikes get lumped in with ATV's. The damage factor isn't of the same magnitude and ATV's just require you be a lazy blob pushing the throttle with your thumb. Mountain bikes require you exert yourself pretty heavily because riding a 2.4" nobby tire isn't exactly efficient.

I've seen horses destroy trails pretty bad as they punch 6" deep 4" diameter holes in the ground.

There were a lot of mistakes made early on in the mountain biking world regard to the sustainability of trail systems and usage that can be fixed moving forward. Taxing the equipment to pay for trail improvements would be welcome.


I'm in the camp of no mountain bikes in wilderness. The preamble of the WIlderness Act references leaving some places "untrammled by man." That's certainly a values statement and we can see aspects of human development in some wilderness areas from old stock tanks, abandoned mines, etc to modern day issues such as land strips. Existing landing strips were grandfathered in not just because of their existence at the time of the act, but for other reasons such as safety. The no mechanical clause is important because of the impacts that mechanized use can have.

Horses generally don't destroy habitat and their impacts on trails is minimal. The trails around Helena (South Hills) are a great example of shared use, but my ankles tell me it's problematic when the biking community carve deep ruts in existing trails. Never had that problem with horses.

That said, Wilderness isn't just about recreational management. It's about watershed management, maintaining a semblence of what the land used to be (horses were in there long before the forest service was established, being utilized by tribes for centuries before TR created forest reserves), and I'm not sure MB's are a compatible use.

Having said that, I think that there is room for everyone when it comes to public land management and a good example is the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act which created a new designation called a Conservation Management Area that still allows for MB use. The Heritage Act also specifically calls on the Lewis & Clark forest to conduct a study to identify new possible bike routes, recognizing that MB's are a legitimate use of public lands, and the need to expand opportunity where it makes sense. This approach has been supported by IMBA & MMBA.
 

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