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Everyone who loves wilderness and mountain biking should understand supporting the South West Montana Mountain Biking Association not only helps the great work they do trail building; it also supports their advocacy for the reduction of wilderness.

SWMMBA's latest guest column on May 3 is another example of their alarmist political tactics. The editorial uses increased trail use during the COVID crisis as a fear-mongering political opportunity to further anti-wildness agendas. SWMMBA will claim the Gallatin Forest Partnership plan represents a compromise justifying less wilderness in the Gallatin. What SWMMBA and capitalist funded enviros won’t tell you is the large number extraordinarily accomplished landscape scientists who say any reduction in wilderness will have serious negative consequences on wildlife.

Wilderness is more critical than ever for wildlife escaping the ever-increasing numbers of trail users. While many people see the COVID crisis as an opportunity to start reducing human consumption of nature, SWMMBA sees it as an opportunity to justify human impacts on one of the most pristine wilderness areas on the planet. While correctly claiming the importance of Montanas' recreation economy, they conveniently leave out the biggest driver of the recreation economy, our states' large amount of protected public lands and wilderness areas.

In a moment of an existential crisis about how humans behave on our fragile blue planet advocating reduction of wilderness protections, so more people can ride machines is the epitome of human greed and ignorance. Many mountain bikers understand having the privilege to burn excess calories pedaling bikes in the woods; they also have the responsibility to tread as lightly as possible and help protect what little unspoiled land is left on our planet. I hope more people will consider this before supporting a group that sees recreation as more critical than conserving the health of our environment.

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Stewart Mitchell