Re: Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day--Oct 2

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.soc' started by Mike Vandeman, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. On 16 Sep 2004 16:42:45 GMT, [email protected] (IMBA Jim) wrote:

    ..Hi all,
    .... and a bunch of lies. For the truth:

    The Impacts of Mountain Biking on Wildlife and People --
    A Review of the Literature
    Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
    July 3, 2004

    "Every recreationist -- whether hiker, biker, horsepacker, or posey sniffer --
    should not begin by asking, 'What's best for ME?' but rather 'What's best for
    the bears?'" Tom Butler

    "Will we keep some parts of the American landscape natural and wild and free --
    or must every acre be easily accessible to people and their toys? … Mountain
    bikes' impacts on the land are large and getting worse. … The aggressive push of
    mountain bike organizations to build ever-growing webs of trails poses serious
    problems of habitat fragmentation, increased erosion, and wildlife conflicts.
    As interest in extreme riding continues to grow, as trail networks
    burgeon, and as new technology makes it possible for ever-more mountain
    bicyclists to participate, even the most remote wild landscapes may become
    trammeled -- and trampled -- by knobby tires. … The destruction of wilderness
    and the fragmentation of habitats and ecosystems is death by a thousand cuts.
    Will introduction of mountain bikes -- and their penetration farther into
    wilderness -- promote additional fragmentation and human conflicts with the
    natural world? Yes." Brian O'Donnell and Michael Carroll

    "Some things are obvious: mountain bikes do more damage to the land than hikers.
    To think otherwise ignores the story told by the ground. Although I have never
    ridden a mountain bike, I am very familiar with their impacts. For the last
    seven years I have regularly run three to six miles several times a week on a
    network of trails in the Sandia Mountain foothills two blocks from my home. …
    These trails receive use from walkers, runners, and mountain bikers; they are
    closed to motorized vehicles.
    Because I'm clumsy, I keep my eyes on the trail in front of me. I run or
    walk in all seasons, in all kinds of weather. I have watched the growing erosion
    on these trails from mountain bike use. The basic difference between feet and
    tires is that tire tracks are continuous and foot tracks are discontinuous.
    Water finds that narrow, continuous tire tracks are a rill in which to flow.
    Also, because many mountain bikers are after thrills and speed, their tires cut
    into the ground. Slamming on the brakes after zooming downhill, sliding around
    sharp corners, and digging in to go uphill: I see the results of this behavior
    weekly. …
    I regularly see mountain bikers cutting off cross-country, even on steep
    slopes, for more of a challenge. They seem blind and deaf to the damage they
    cause. Admittedly, backpackers and horsepackers can cause damage to wilderness
    trails. But this is a poor argument to suggest that we add another source of
    damage to those trails." Dave Foreman

    "Studies show that bike impacts are similar to those of other non-motorized
    trail users." Jim Hasenauer (professor of rhetoric and member of the board of
    directors of the International Mountain Bicyclists Association)

    Introduction:

    I first became interested in the problem of mountain biking in 1994. I
    had been studying the impacts of the presence of humans on wildlife, and had
    come to the conclusion that there needs to be habitat that is entirely
    off-limits to humans, in order that wildlife that is sensitive to the presence
    of humans can survive (see Vandeman, 2000). But what is the best way to minimize
    the presence of people? Restricting human access is repugnant, and difficult and
    expensive to accomplish. It occurred to me that the best way to reduce the
    presence and impacts of humans is to restrict the technologies that they are
    allowed to utilize in nature: e.g. prohibit bicycles and other vehicles (and
    perhaps even domesticated animals, when used as vehicles).

    Having been a transportation activist for eight years (working on
    stopping highway construction), and having a favorable view of my fellow
    bicyclists as environmentalists, I turned to them to help me campaign to keep
    bicycles out of natural areas. Was I ever surprised! I discovered that many
    bicyclists (e.g. many mountain bikers) aren't environmentalists at all, but are
    simply people who like to bicycle -- in the case of mountain bikers, many of
    them just use nature, as a kind of playground or outdoor gymnasium! (Of course,
    there are also hikers, equestrians, and other recreationists who fall into this
    category.) To my suggestion to keep bikes off of trails in order to protect
    wildlife, they reacted with hostility! (There is a degree of balkanization among
    activists, where some transportation activists ignore the needs of wildlife, and
    some wildlife activists eschew bikes and public transit.)

    In 1994 I attended a public hearing held by the East Bay Municipal
    Utility (water) District to decide whether to allow bikes on their watershed
    lands. Mountain bikers were there asking for bike access, and the Sierra Club
    was there to retain the right to hike, while keeping out the bicycles. I said
    that I had no interest in using the watershed, but that I wanted to ensure that
    the wildlife are protected -- hence, I asked that bikes not be allowed.
    Afterward, the EBMUD Board of Directors took a field trip to Marin County, the
    birthplace of mountain biking, to see the effects of mountain biking there.
    While they were hiking along a narrow trail, a mountain biker came racing by,
    swearing at them for not getting out of his way fast enough. That helped them
    decide to ban bikes. Today bikes are still restricted to paved roads, and EBMUD
    is still one of the public agencies most protective of wildlife.

    It is obvious that mountain biking is harmful to some wildlife and
    people. No one, even mountain bikers, tries to deny that. Bikes create V-shaped
    ruts in trails, throw dirt to the outside on turns, crush small plants and
    animals on and under the trail, facilitate increased levels of human access into
    wildlife habitat, and drive other trail users (many of whom are seeking the
    tranquility and primitiveness of natural surroundings) out of the parks. Because
    land managers were starting to ban bikes from trails, the mountain bikers
    decided to try to shift the battlefield to science, and try to convince people
    that mountain biking is no more harmful than hiking. But there are two problems
    with this approach: (1) it's not true, and (2) it's irrelevant.

    I will examine (1) in a moment. But first, let's look at relevance:
    whether or not hiking (or All Terrain Vehicles or urban sprawl or anything else)
    is harmful really has no bearing on whether mountain biking is harmful: they are
    independent questions. Such a comparison would only be relevant if one were
    committed to allowing only one activity or the other, and wanted to know which
    is more harmful. In reality, hiking is always allowed, and the question is
    whether to add mountain biking as a permitted activity. In that case, the only
    relevant question is: Is mountain biking harmful? Of course, it is. However,
    since many people seem interested in the outcome of the comparison, I will
    examine the research and try to answer it.

    The mountain bikers' other line of research aims to prove that mountain
    bikers are just like hikers, implying that they should have the same privileges
    as hikers. (Of course, they already have the same privileges! The exact same
    rules apply to both groups: both are allowed to hike everywhere, and neither is
    allowed to bring a bike where they aren't allowed.) Using surveys, they have
    tried to show that mountain bikers are really environmentalists, lovers of
    nature, and deep ecologists. Of course, surveys are notoriously unreliable:
    statements of belief don't easily translate into behavior. I'm going to ignore
    this research, since I am (and the wildlife are) more interested in actual
    impacts, not intentions.

    The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has done me the
    favor of collecting all the research they could find that seemed favorable to
    mountain biking. Gary Sprung (2004) summarized it in his carefully worded essay,
    "Natural Resource Impacts of Mountain Biking". Gary says "the empirical studies
    thus far do not support the notion that bikes cause more natural resource
    impact". I will show that this is not true; in fact, those studies, if their
    data are interpreted properly, show the exact opposite: that mountain biking has
    much greater impact than hiking! Gary says that we should make "make rational,
    non-arbitrary, less political decisions regarding which groups are allowed on
    particular routes". This is disingenuous. Mountain bikers (but not bikes) are
    already allowed on every trail.

    Impacts on Soil (Erosion):

    Gary says "No scientific studies show that mountain bikers cause more
    wear to trails than other users". He cites Wilson and Seney (1994) and claims
    that "hooves and feet erode more than wheels. … Wilson and Seney found no
    statistically significant difference between measured bicycling and hiking
    effects". He quotes the study: "Horses and hikers (hooves and feet) made more
    sediment available than wheels (motorcycles and off-road bicycles) on prewetted
    trails" (p.74).

    This study is frequently cited by mountain bikers as proof that mountain
    biking doesn't cause more impact than hiking. But it has a number of defects
    that call its conclusions into question. The authors used a "rainfall simulator"
    to measure "sediment made available" by the various treatments. They
    "[collected] surface runoff and sediment yield produced by the simulated
    rainstorms at the downslope end of each plot", which they claim "correlates with
    erosion" (they don't say what the correlation coefficient is). This doesn't seem
    like a good measure of erosion. For example, if a large rock were dislodged, the
    very weak "simulated rainfall" wouldn't be capable of transporting it into the
    collecting tray; only very fine particles would be collected. In fact, they
    admit that the simulator's "small size … meant that the kinetic energy of the
    simulated rainfall events was roughly one-third that of natural rainstorms".
    Another reason to suspect that the measurements aren't valid is that "none of
    the relationships between water runoff and soil texture, slope, antecedent soil
    moisture, trail roughness, and soil resistance was statistically significant".

    The authors also ignored the relative distances that various trail users
    typically travel (for example, bikers generally travel several times as far as
    hikers, multiplying their impacts accordingly) and the additional impacts due to
    the mountain bike bringing new people to the trails that otherwise would not
    have been there (the same omission is true of all other studies, except Wisdom
    et al (2004)). They do say "Trail use in the last ten years has seen a dramatic
    increase in off-road bicycles" (p.86), but they don't incorporate this fact into
    their comparison. In addition, there is no recognition of different styles of
    riding and their effect on erosion. We don't know if the mountain bikers rode in
    representative fashion, or, more likely, rode more gently, with less skidding,
    acceleration, braking, and turning. There was also no recognition that soil
    displaced sideways (rather than downhill) also constitutes erosion damage. It
    seems likely that they underestimated the true impacts of mountain biking. I
    don't think that these results are reliable. (Note that the study was partially
    funded by IMBA.)

    Gary next cited Chiu ([email protected]) and Kriwoken
    ([email protected]), claiming that there was "no significant difference
    between hiking and biking trail wear". I wasn't able to acquire this study, but
    it is apparent from Gary's description of it that he (and perhaps the authors)
    misstated the conclusions. If we assume, as they claim, that bikers and hikers
    have the same impact per mile (which is what they measured), then it follows
    that mountain bikers have several times the impact of hikers, since they
    generally travel several times as far. (I haven't found any published
    statistics, but I have informally collected 72 mountain bikers' ride
    announcements, which advertise rides of a minimum of 8 miles, an average of 27
    miles, and a maximum of 112 miles.)

    Impacts on Plants:

    Gary says "No scientific studies indicate that bicycling causes more
    degradation of plants than hiking. Trails are places primarily devoid of
    vegetation, so for trail use in the center of existing paths, impacts to
    vegetation are not a concern." However this is a concern for plants that try to
    establish themselves in the trail, and for roots that cross the trail and end up
    being killed or damaged.

    He cites Thurston and Reader (2001), claiming that "hiking and bicycling
    trample vegetation at equal rates … the impacts of biking and hiking measured
    here were not significantly different". Actually, that is not true. Although
    overall impacts weren't significantly different, "soil exposure [was] greater on
    biking 500 pass lanes than hiking 500 pass lanes" (p.404). In other words, after
    500 passes, mountain biking began to show significantly greater impacts. Thus
    their conclusion, "the impacts of biking and hiking measured here were not
    significantly different" (p.405) is unwarranted.

    The authors said "Bikers traveled at a moderate speed, usually allowing
    bicycles to roll down lanes without pedaling where the slope would allow." Thus
    it would appear that the mountain biking that they measured is not
    representative: it was unusually slow and didn't include much opportunity for
    braking, accelerating, or turning, where greater impacts would be expected to
    occur.

    The authors also said "Some hikers feel that bikers should be excluded
    from existing trails" (p.397). Of course, this is not true. Hikers are only
    asking that bikes be excluded, not bikers. On page 407 they admit the
    "possibility … that mountain bikers simply contribute further to the overuse of
    trails". In other words, allowing bikes on trails allows trail use to increase
    over what it would be if bikes weren't allowed. This is probably true, and
    deserves to be recognized and researched.

    They found that "One year following treatments, neither vegetation loss
    nor species loss was significantly greater on treated lanes than on control
    lanes" (p.406). They conclude that the recreation impacts are "short-term", and
    experience "rapid recovery". This is unjustified. Killing plants and destroying
    seeds modifies the gene pool, and introduces human-caused loss of genetic
    diversity, and evolution. Dead plants and lost genetic diversity do not
    "recover" (see Vandeman, 2001).

    However, the greatest defect of the study and its interpretation is that
    is that it doesn't consider the distance that bikers travel. Even if we accepted
    their conclusions that impacts per mile are the same, it would follow that
    mountain bikers have several times the impact of hikers, since they are easily
    able to, and do, travel several times as far as hikers. Try walking 25 or 50 or
    100 miles in a day!

    Impacts on Animals:

    Gary cites Taylor and Knight (1993), claiming that "hiking and biking
    cause [the] same impact to large mammals on Utah island". First, as noted by
    Wisdom et al (2004), this study lacked a control group, and hence can't infer
    causation. Second, the authors made the same mistake that all other researchers
    made: they ignored the different distances that hikers and bikers travel. I also
    wonder how realistic it was to have all recreationists continue past the animals
    without stopping to look at them. (All of those researchers also failed to
    implement blind measurement and analysis: the researchers were aware, as they
    were measuring, which treatment they were testing. Only Wisdom et al were able
    to carry out their measurements (electronically) without any people even being
    present.)

    This is a very informative paper. The authors "examined the responses of
    bison …, mule deer …, and pronghorn antelope … to hikers and mountain bikers …
    by comparing alert distance, flight distance, and distance moved" (p.951). They
    noted, significantly, that "Outdoor recreation has the potential to disturb
    wildlife, resulting in energetic costs, impacts to animals' behavior and
    fitness, and avoidance of otherwise suitable habitat. … outdoor recreation is
    the second leading cause for the decline of federally threatened and endangered
    species on public lands" (p.951). They also noted that "Mountain biking in
    particular is one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities, with 43.3 million
    persons participating at least once in 2000" (p.952). However, they didn't draw
    on this fact when they concluded "We found no biological justification for
    managing mountain biking any differently than hiking" (p.961).

    The authors also surveyed the recreationists, and found that they
    "failed to perceive that they were having as great an effect on wildlife as our
    biological data indicated. Most recreationists felt that it was acceptable to
    approach wildlife at a much closer distance (mean acceptable distance to
    approach = 59.0 m) than wildlife in our experimental trials would typically
    allow a human to approach (mean flight distance of all species = 150.6 m). … Of
    all visitors surveyed, 46%, 53%, and 54%, respectively, felt that bison, deer,
    and pronghorn were being negatively affected by recreation on Antelope Island. …
    Visitors expressed little support for allowing only one type of recreational use
    on island trails, having fewer trails on the island, for requiring visitors to
    watch an educational video about the effects of recreation on wildlife, and for
    allowing recreation only on the north (developed) end of the island" (p.957).
     
    Tags:


  2. GaryG

    GaryG Guest

    "Mike Vandeman" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]

    [Mikey's typical long-winded ranting snipped]

    > ===
    > I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to
    > humans ("pure habitat"). Want to help? (I spent the previous 8
    > years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)
    >


    Given that humans have been an integral part of nearly all land-based
    ecosystems for the last million years or so, I can't help wondering why you
    would want to create such an unnatural environment. Your "pure habitat"
    would be as artificial, in an environmental sense, as Disneyland.
     
  3. On Sat, 25 Sep 2004 09:17:45 -0700, "GaryG"
    <[email protected]_SPAMBEGONE_software.com> wrote:

    .."Mike Vandeman" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    ..news:[email protected]
    ..
    ..[Mikey's typical long-winded ranting snipped]
    ..
    ..> ===
    ..> I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to
    ..> humans ("pure habitat"). Want to help? (I spent the previous 8
    ..> years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)
    ..>
    ..
    ..Given that humans have been an integral part of nearly all land-based
    ..ecosystems for the last million years or so, I can't help wondering why you
    ..would want to create such an unnatural environment.

    Thanks for demonstrating your ignorance. Homo sapiens didn't leave Africa till
    about 50,000 years ago. They have been in North America only about 10,000-20,000
    years. For 99% of life's history, human-free habitat has been the norm!

    Your "pure habitat"
    ..would be as artificial, in an environmental sense, as Disneyland.

    BS.

    ===
    I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to
    humans ("pure habitat"). Want to help? (I spent the previous 8
    years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)

    http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande
     
  4. di

    di Guest

    ">
    > Thanks for demonstrating your ignorance. Homo sapiens didn't leave Africa

    till
    > about 50,000 years ago. They have been in North America only about

    10,000-20,000
    > years. For 99% of life's history, human-free habitat has been the norm!


    Why don't you be a leader and start a movement to go back to Africa.
     
  5. PMH

    PMH Guest

    di wrote:

    >">
    >
    >
    >>Thanks for demonstrating your ignorance. Homo sapiens didn't leave Africa
    >>
    >>

    >till
    >
    >
    >>about 50,000 years ago. They have been in North America only about
    >>
    >>

    >10,000-20,000
    >
    >
    >>years. For 99% of life's history, human-free habitat has been the norm!
    >>
    >>

    >
    >Why don't you be a leader and start a movement to go back to Africa.
    >
    >
    >
    >

    howzabout "Reunite Gondwonaland" for a battle cry? 'Twould give Mikey &
    other extremist ecophages a superbly unattainable goal.
    Pete H

    --
    Either everyone has rights or some have privileges.
    It's really that simple.
    Walt Kelly
     
  6. Scott Burley

    Scott Burley Guest

    On 24 Sep 2004, Mike Vandeman offered up this insight:

    <snip a bunch of pre-fab crap>

    Mike, what the hell does this have to do with the original post?

    --
    __ __ _ ___ ___
    / _|/ _/ |_ _|_ _|
    \_ ( (( o | | | |
    |__/\__\_/|_| |_|

    [email protected]
     
  7. On Sat, 25 Sep 2004 13:01:58 -0500, "di" <[email protected]> wrote:

    ..
    ..">
    ..> Thanks for demonstrating your ignorance. Homo sapiens didn't leave Africa
    ..till
    ..> about 50,000 years ago. They have been in North America only about
    ..10,000-20,000
    ..> years. For 99% of life's history, human-free habitat has been the norm!
    ..
    ..Why don't you be a leader and start a movement to go back to Africa.

    What makes you think I'm not already there?
    ===
    I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to
    humans ("pure habitat"). Want to help? (I spent the previous 8
    years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)

    http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande
     
  8. di

    di Guest

    "> .
    > .Why don't you be a leader and start a movement to go back to Africa.
    >
    > What makes you think I'm not already there?
    > ===


    Well dufus, because you just said "there", if you were there you would have
    said "here" Duh!
     
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