A new plan that would give mountain bikers more access to national parks, will have almost no impact on Mount Rainier National Park, chief ranger Chuck Young said this afternoon.
“It’s not even on the table,” Young said, noting that 97 percent of the park is designated wilderness.
The National Park Service announced Thursday it will expand bicycle access but will continue to prohibit bikes in wilderness areas.
“Bikes are a great way to exercise, get healthy, and experience the great outdoors,” National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said in a prepared statement. “This new rule gives park superintendents greater flexibility to determine where bikes can be allowed in a park and additional authority to shut areas where cycling is jeopardizing visitors or park resources.”
The rule gives park superintendents the authority to allow bicycles on roads were vehicle are not. Bikes are already allowed on park roads that are open to vehicles.
At Mount Rainier, bikes are allowed on unpaved service roads near Longmire, the Carbon River Road and the Westside Road. That’s likely to continue to be the case, Young said.
The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility issued a statement Friday denouncing the new rule, which goes into effect Aug. 5.
“Make no mistake, this is a significant relaxation of national park resource protection. It adds insult to injury that it slithered out with no warning on the day after the Fourth of July,” PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said in the statement.
Ruch added: “Nobody is against mountain biking. The issue is whether one form of recreation can shut out all others in national parks that are meant for and paid for by everybody. That is why the old rules were put in place and their abrupt removal is cause for unease.”