I received a message on the Mountain Bike Radio Facebook page tonight from a somewhat angered fan (hopefully a fan of MBR and not just looking for any mountain bike outlet to share it….). Thanks for that.
*EDITED 1/29/17 TO FIX THE DIVISION OF MONEY – THIS CHANGES THE SITUATION (a lot in my mind).
There is a billed that has been introduced into the Wyoming legislature that, if passed, would require mountain bikers to buy a “decal” for $15 to ride on public land or face a $100 fine. You can read the full bill HERE.
However, before you lose your mind and go share this with everyone, while yelling that it’s foul bullshit, I would encourage you calm yourself and read the entire bill. It lays out how the $15 will be appropriated.
It appears that $2 of each decal goes back into paying for the decals themselves – design, production, etc. Then the remaining $13 is set to go to a “mountain biking trails account.” EDIT: The $2 is set to go to “36-4-121. Permits to use state parks, recreation 16 areas and historic sites; mountain biking trails account” that would be “appropriated to the department of state parks and cultural 22 resources to be expended for maintaining and improving 23 trails or roads including Wyoming off-road recreational vehicle trails used for mountain biking on public lands.”
$13 would go to “23-1-501. Game and fish fund.” The description reads “An account within the game and fish fund is 5 created. Revenues received pursuant to W.S. 31-2-902(f) 6 shall be credited to the account and are continuously 7 appropriated to the commission to be expended for the 8 design and production of mountain biking decals pursuant to 9 W.S. 31-2-902 and 31-2-903. Any funds exceeding the amount 10 necessary for the design and production of mountain biking 11 decals shall be expended for management of populations of 12 species listed as threatened or endangered under the 13 Endangered Species Act.”
So, there are some questions that I have in reaction to this and I’ll pose them to you:
– Is this a good idea?
– EDIT: Who is this trying to serve?
– Is this actually a proactive bill – does it create a self sustaining fund that Wyoming (or any of us in the future in any state) can use to improve one of their growing (I just recorded a podcast with someone promoting a race in Wyoming and their tourism from mountain biking is growing rapidly – rapidly enough that the state has allowed for several new trail areas to be developed in response to an increase in user fees at one popular trail area) segments of tourism?
– If it would be a useful fund, is $2 really that useful?
– If this goes through, do you think other states will follow suit?
– Does this bill indicate that they see the value (and money) of the mountain biking tourism? Is mountain biking in the mainstream conversation?
– Does it seem like just another money grab by government?
– Do you think it’s helpful to set aside money in this way?
– Will the money be used appropriately?
I would point to hunting and fishing licenses as a potentially similar example. While many would argue the quality of their public hunting and fishing opportunities, overall, the opportunities are much better than even 50 years ago. During the late 1800’s and throughout the early 1900’s, many animal populations were decimated. It wasn’t until the modern era of management took hold, that good game possibilities were abundant throughout the country. Fees from licenses go into management and study of populations. The license fees, along with participation of local, private groups, seem to help keep things in order and sustainable going forward.
EDIT: I pointed out the fishing and hunting, but I will need to dig in to some different states to determine the exact percentages that go from the license fee to the management. This proportion of $2 out of the $15 seems fishy (pun intended) to me.
The biggest problem facing any outdoor group, including fisherman and hunters like I mentioned, and mountain bikers like yourselves, is access to suitable areas to do what you love to do. While this bill doesn’t preserve the land, it does force some (likely some will say f- it anyway) who may have not contributed money to the local mountain bike group, the Sustainable Trails Coalition, or IMBA, to kick in some money to help pay for improvements on trails they already use.
So, at first glance it seems like more fee bullshit that we’re being forced to follow. But upon further investigation, it leads to some bigger questions with some potential positive outcomes.
EDIT: At second glance (and due to my shitty reporting), it seems like somethings going on here. There is smoke smoldering here and I’d be interested to hear some of the sponsors of the bill to explain themselves.
I did a little research to pull up the contact information for the people who are behind this bill (it’s all public information on Wyoming’s website). If you are concerned about this, you can contact one or all of the following:
– Albert Sommers: PO Box 1608 Pinedale, WY 82941, ph (307) 360-7060, Albert.Sommers@wyoleg.gov
– Jim Allen: PO Box 243, Lander, WY 82520, ph (307) 349-6784, Jim.Allen@wyoleg.gov
– Mike Gierau: 210 E. Karns Avenue Box 2975, Jackson, WY 83001, (307) 413-0109, Mike.Gierau@wyoleg.gov
– Charles Pelkey: 311 S. Fourth Street, Laramie, WY 82070, (307) 920-0542, Charles.Pelkey@wyoleg.gov
– Wyatt Agar: 3292 Grass Creek Road, Thermopolis, WY 82443, (307) 921-8825, Wyatt.Agar@wyoleg.gov
– Brian Boner: 1078 Riverbend Drive, Douglas, WY 82633, (307) 359-0707, Brian.Boner@wyoleg.gov
– Ogden Driskill: PO Box 155, Devils Tower, WY 82714, (307) 680-0555, Ogden.Driskill@wyoleg.gov
– Larry Hicks: PO Box 413, Baggs, WY 82321, (307) 383-7192, Larry.Hicks@wyoleg.gov
What do you think about this proposed fee?
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