A new plan that would give mountain bikers more access to national parks will have almost no impact in Mount Rainier National Park, chief ranger Chuck Young said Friday.
“It’s not even on the table,” said Young, noting that 97 percent of the park is designated wilderness.
The National Park Service announced Thursday that 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. “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 where vehicle are not permitted. Bikes already are allowed on park roads open to vehicles.
At Mount Rainier, bikes are permitted on unpaved service roads near Longmire, the Carbon River Road and the Westside Road. That’s likely to continue, Young said.
The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility issued a statement Friday denouncing the new rule, which will take effect Aug. 5.
“Make no mistake, this is a significant relaxation of national park resource protection,” PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said. “It adds insult to injury that it slithered out with no warning on the day after the Fourth of July.
“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.”