‘MTB Licence’ Proposed In USA

by Hannah Dobson 7

In the State of Wyoming, a Bill to require mountain bikers to purchase a licence before accessing trails has been proposed. Sponsored by 12 State Representatives, including Charles Pelkey, the former Velonews Editor, the Bill seeks to levy a $100 on anyone failing to comply.

At this stage it’s little more than an idea, with political scrutiny yet to take place, however there is a fully drafted Bill available to read.

The draft Bill
The draft Bill

The provisions of the Bill are that, as is the case for hunters and anglers, mountain bikers will need to be a licence to be able to legally use the trails. Buying a licence – the fee in the draft Bill is $15 per year – will give you real or digital decals to demonstrate that you have paid and are entitled to use the trails. It’s a single fee per rider, not per bike.

From this $15 fee, it’s proposed that $2 will go into an account that will be used to contribute towards ‘maintaining and improving trails or roads including Wyoming off-road recreational vehicle trails used for mountain biking on public lands’. The remaining $13 is to go into an account used to fund the design and production of the decals with ‘any funds exceeding the amount necessary for the design and production of mountain biking decals’ to be used ‘for management of populations of species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.’

Charles Pelkey has cosponsored the Bill, but appears to have some concerns about whether he’s made the right choice. Judging by some of the other bills he has sponsored, Pelkey’s attitudes seem to be pretty liberal, and his reasoning for supporting this seems to be based on the idea that a small fee to have a voice is worth paying. He posted on his Facebook page:

Views seem to be fairly evenly split. Some think that it’s a good thing, and that paying for access will indeed give riders a greater say in how public land and trails are managed. Others see it as regulation of something which for them represents freedom, or a way to line the coffers of the local Fish & Game department.

What do you think? If you don’t pay for access to land, do you have a right to have a say in how it is managed? Is it the thin end of the wedge, or a genuine way to support the landscape that gives us so much fun?

Comments (7)

  1. 13 dollars of the 15 earmarked for design and production of decals. Was the bill drafted by someone with a failing design/print company?

    What a world we live in.

  2. If you don’t pay for access to land, do you have a right to have a say in how it is managed?

    Do taxes not contribute to land management in the US? Genuine question.

    The principle behind it – “getting a seat at the table” – is something I’m behind, but this doesn’t have to be via additional levies. You can put something back in other ways*. The devil is in the detail though. What say does $15 actually get you? As woodster says, $13 of that just gets you a sticker!

    *plug for the great work Peak District MTB do 😉

  3. Probably the $15 gives you the opportunity to subsidize the much better organized hunters and anglers, and no meaningful say in what the money gets spent on.

  4. This is for state land: the people are the state and own the state, so it is a request to people to pay to use what is already their own. In Britain things are different: around where I live much of the land is owned by utility (water) companies, they make huge profits and I would not wish to give them more. Many trail centres are on Forestry Commission land and the car parking charges are an adequate source of income from mountain bikers.
    I would support a scheme if it would provide extra money to the people who farm upland areas, such as those in the Lakes and Peak areas, Less keen to support the oligarchs who own huge estates in Scotland,

  5. Hard to police I’d imagine. Not a lot of people in Wyoming (about a million in an area the size of Holland or thereabouts) & lots of public land, state forests & the like. I live near Swinley Forest & there used to be an annual fee (£20 – £30 per year I think, it was some years ago) to ride there. I don’t think I ever noticed another bike with a permit band & never heard of any enforcement actions. My impression was the fee was unenforceable. It was eventually dropped in favour of parking charges when the new official trails were opened 4 or 5 years ago.

  6. “From this $15 fee, it’s proposed that $2 will go into an account that will be used to contribute towards ‘maintaining and improving trails or roads including Wyoming off-road recreational vehicle trails used for mountain biking on public lands’. The remaining $13 is to go into an account used to fund the design and production of the decals with ‘any funds exceeding the amount necessary for the design and production of mountain biking decals’ to be used ‘for management of populations of species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.’”

    WTAF???

  7. I’m not so sure that this isn’t a good idea but spoiled in execution. Of the objections I read, a few are ideological (see it as a tax: taxes are evil communist things…) but most are complaining that most of the fee goes to running the scheme and paying the decal supplier and only 13% goes for trail maintenance.

    The arguments about which group of land users do the most damage will run on for evermore, but as a user group it seems reasonable to put your collective hand in your pocket for maintenance made necessary by your usage, and the logic that if you’re only taking without putting anything back in you shouldn’t expect anyone to listen to what you want is sound enough. America is a different place with very different land laws though.

    If post accident litigation gathers speed I could see something like this happening whether we liked it or not. However, seeing the number of riders in the UK on various forums go ballistic at the price of parking at FC sites or that they are expected to share the facility with people who view mountain bikers as a menace, I’d be surprised if it took off here.

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