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US House committee hears bikes-in-wilderness bill

The House Federal Lands Subcommittee on Thursday held a hearing on H.R. 1349 but took no action on the bill that would allow bicycles and other wheeled, mechanized vehicles into federal wilderness areas, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., also would allow motorized wheelchairs in wilderness areas.

Some off-road biking enthusiasts want access to the same trails that hikers and horseback riders currently enjoy in many wilderness areas. But critics say the bill opens the door to the kind of mechanized vehicles that Congress intended to keep out when they created wilderness areas in 1964. More than 130 groups have signed a letter opposing the bill.

Only supporters of the bill were allowed to testify Thursday. McClintock is chairman of the subcommittee.

The subcommittee took no action. A vote on the bill is expected in full committee at a later date.