I write in response to the recent news “House Committee advances bill allowing bikes in wilderness areas,” (Dec. 13). As a wheelchair user for nearly 20 years after a skiing accident, I still explore the nation’s silent sanctuaries of nature – on rivers and trails where I can escape the sounds of humans and our motors. Section 507 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) already ensures that wheelchairs are exempt from the barring of mechanization in the Wilderness Act. In fact, the new Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness, near my Idaho home, has a primitive wheelchair accessible trail.
Rep. Tom McClintock’s ill-advised bill would permanently weaken the rules governing the management of every wilderness area in the country and permanently change the character of the designation, rolling back more than five decades of policy that that was carefully crafted by local stakeholders to protect wild places from, as the Wilderness Act foresaw, “expanding settlement and growing mechanization.” For me, building roads into pristine country only means I have to go that much further to find the quiet and solitude I seek. We owe it to future generations to ensure that some natural places stay just as they are.