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BOLT Act could make backcountry trail experiences more accessible

BOLT Act could make backcountry trail experiences more accessible

Senate introduces bipartisan bill for long-distance bike trails on public lands

Maah Daah Hey in North Dakota is the longest continuous single track mountain bike trail in the US and an IMBA EPIC

Media contact: Eleanor Blick
IMBA Director of Communications
(729) 900-4622

(Boulder, Colo., December 1, 2021) — Mountain biking is getting attention in the Senate, with new legislation introduced to bolster outdoor recreation and promote biking on federal lands across the United States.

The bipartisan Biking on Long-Distance Trails (BOLT) Act was introduced by Senators Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on November 18. The bill is co-sponsored by Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

The legislation will identify at least 10 existing long-distance bike trails and identify at least 10 areas where there is opportunity to develop or complete such trails. A long-distance bike trail means a continuous route, made up of one or more trails, that is 80 miles or longer and may be used for mountain biking, gravel riding, touring, or road cycling. The bill will also allow the Department of Interior to publish and distribute maps, install signage, and distribute promotional materials.

“In New Mexico and across America, there are millions of acres of federal lands that have gone untapped for responsible outdoor recreation use. This bipartisan legislation will make bike trails more accessible and safer across America and will provide a much-needed boost to the growing outdoor recreation economy,” said Lujan.

The outdoor recreation economy accounted for $347.3 billion or 2% of the country's GDP in 2020 and some 4.3 million jobs. According to International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Executive Director David Wiens, the growing outdoor industry coupled with an increase in new mountain bikers makes the BOLT Act even more relevant.

“Mountain biking has grown in popularity over the last decade, most notably during the pandemic. Now is the time to invest in our outdoor recreation infrastructure by providing pathways to positive physical and mental health and creating jobs in the outdoor economy. IMBA applauds Senators Lujan and Cramer for introducing the BOLT Act,” said Wiens.

Wiens added, “IMBA programs support a variety of trail experiences, from trails close to home to backcountry riding. The BOLT Act will be instrumental in creating those iconic backcountry experiences and making them more accessible to people across the country.”

Trails that provide an immersive, physically and technically demanding, backcountry experience are recognized as IMBA EPICs. The Ouachita National Recreation Trail in Arkansas, High Country Pathway in Michigan, and Maah Daah Hey in North Dakota are IMBA EPICs that could receive support from the BOLT Act.

“The longest continuous single track mountain bike trail in the US is lucky to call North Dakota home. As the former North Dakota Tourism Director, I know the Maah Daah Hey and other bike trails provide enriching recreational experiences and economic opportunities for our communities. Our bill identifies long-distance bike trails on public lands for all to enjoy,” said Cramer.

The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources will hold a hearing on the BOLT Act on December 2nd at 10 a.m. EST. The bill will be heard alongside several of IMBA’s priority bills to benefit mountain biking and outdoor recreation, including the Parks, Jobs and Equity Act; the Recreation Not Red Tape Act; and the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act, among others. Full text of the bill can be found here.

IMBA will continue to build support within the cycling community to work toward final passage of the BOLT Act and partner with Senators Lujan and Cramer to be champions for mountain biking.

Author
jali

Jali's passion for cycling and the outdoors began in Philippines where she was born and raised. She shared her love for the outdoors by accompanying students on environmental research trips and facilitating youth camps on marine conservation. Her love for cycling was reignited when she moved to…

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