UPDATED: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Consider Case Of Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Company

Editor's note: This updates with comments from Drakes Bay Oyster Co. owner Kevin Lunny.

An adverse ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, while disappointing, does not automatically signal the end of oyster farming at Point Reyes National Seashore, according to the owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

Kevin Lunny said Monday afternoon that he planned to sit down with his attorneys to review the decision by the Supreme Court not to take up his fight against the Interior Department to remain in business at the national seashore's Drakes Estero. One option, he said, would be to return to a lower court to pursue the gist of his lawsuit against the Interior Department; the lower court rulings that have gone against Drakes Bay so far focused around Mr. Lunny's request for a temporary restraining order to allow him to continue farming oysters while pursuing that lawsuit.

“While we had hoped the Supreme Court would grant our cert petition requesting a review of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, our federal case against the government now returns to the District Court, where we will be making decisions over the next few weeks about how to proceed," he said in a prepared statement.

"We do plan to continue to fight for what's right here. To fight for our employees, to try to protect a third of the state's shellfish production that comes form Drakes Bay. We believe we're correct and we believe we're fighting for all the right reasons," he said later at a press conference. "We see this fight is not really just for the oyster farm. If we see this kind of treatment be allowed, and not stopped, we fear that there could be consequences" for other agricultural operations on public lands.

While last year there had been an effort in Congress to legislate a 10-year extension of the oyster company's lease, on Monday the Drakes Bay owner didn't know if that remained a possibility.

The Supreme Court on Monday didn't comment when it rejected the petition from Drakes Bay Oyster Co. to review its case. In its petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, the company's lawyers had raised three questions:

* Whether federal courts lack jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act to review an agency action that is arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion when the statute authorizing the action does not impose specific requirements governing the exercise of discretion.

* Whether federal agencies can evade review of their actions under the National Environmental Policy Act by designating their actions as "conservation efforts" when the records shows that the action will cause significant adverse environmental effects.

* Whether an agency commits prejudicial error when it makes false statements in an environmental impact statement, and then asserts that it would have made the same decision even if the false statements had been corrected.

In January the judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel of that court. In that ruling in September 2013, the 2-1 majority ruling held that, "Drakes Bay’s disagreement with the value judgments made by the Secretary is not a legitimate basis on which to set aside the decision. Once we determine, as we have, that the Secretary did not violate any statutory mandate, it is not our province to intercede in his discretionary decision."

When Drakes Bay bought out the farm's previous owners in 2005, the existing lease for the operation ran through November 2012. While Mr. Lunny had been optimistic he could obtain a lease renewal from the National Park Service, then-Interior Secretary Salazar declined that request in November 2012, saying Congress long had intended for Drakes Estero where the oyster farm was based to become part of the Philip Burton Wilderness.

As soon as Mr. Salazar rendered his decision, the National Park Service officially designated the estero as wilderness, something envisioned when the Point Reyes National Seashore Wilderness Act was passed in 1976. The wilderness legislation that set aside 25,370 acres of the national seashore as wilderness cited another 8,003 acres encompassing the estero that would be "essentially managed as wilderness, to the extent possible, with efforts to steadily continue to remove all obstacles to the eventual conversion of these lands and waters to wilderness status" -- and the oyster operation was seen as being incompatible with such a designation.

Drakes Bay's lawyers sued over Mr. Salazar's decision, arguing that it was arbitrary and capricious and violated both the federal government's Administrative Procedures Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Whether Monday's decision marks the end of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. remains to be seen, as there have been efforts in Congress to legislate an extension to the company's lease at Point Reyes.

Mr. Lunny said it was also unclear Monday how soon the National Park Service might move to shut down his oyster farm.


Wilderness lovers everywhere rejoice. A new dawn is about to appear on the Drake estrero. People will flock from around the world to gaze at the wonder of the water now bereft of that ugly farm. :)

Seals will multiply. Birds will flock. Oysters will die, and all that was wrong with the world will be right again.


100 year old farm forced to close because the NPS wants the land. In order to acheive wilderness status, will the NPS bull doze all remants of the farm? Is there any operation or business that is compatible a wilderness designation? Will the NPS acknowledge the history of the farm or pretend it didn't exist?

" In order to acheive wilderness status, will the NPS bull doze all remants of the farm? Is there any operation or business that is compatible a wilderness designation? Will the NPS acknowledge the history of the farm or pretend it didn't exist?"

Surprisingly enough, not bad questions, beachdumb. And time will answer them. In the meantime, sour grapes make for lousy wine.

Well, my commenting on this will probably mean the thread gets closed. But that's awesome. The NPS already owned the land, and the lease expired. Now let wilderness reign, even if it's just a small small portion of the Pacific coast that is protected as such.

The interesting question is who will pay to remove the oyster farm. My understanding is that it would a significant sum of money to get rid of everything, and I'm not sure that the Lunny family has that kind of dough, and frankly, why they would want to do so. If the farm is a corporation, it might not have enough assets for the NPS to go after. I'm guessing that the NPS will take that on.

Sad. This historic site is far more deserving of protection then many of the existing and proposed NPS historic sites. Its negative impact on "wilderness" was negligible.

This is a good example of winning a battle but eventually losing the war. Eventually, capital-W wilderness is going to topple of its own contradictions—one of them being the romantic and ahistorical pretense that wilderness preserves an "untrammeled" Edenic landscape that no human has ever disturbed, including Drake's Bay. We now know that native Americans extensively reworked North America, and we now recall that European settlers had a bit of a hand in doing the same, even in the high Rockies and along the remoter parts of the Pacific coast.

So, wilderness purists may celebrate today (and, frankly, the lawsuit against Secretary Salazar's decision had little or no merit and was rightly turned away); but sooner or later, when there's a Republican Congress and president, and wilderness's core constituency has dwindled to a few hundred thousand people and only 1% of the U.S. population has ever set foot in a wilderness, they will regret that some way couldn't be found to preserve this oyster business and other commercial enterprises in wilderness areas (all disallowed under the Wilderness Act of 1964, except for (a) historical grazing and (b) landscape-damaging and trail-ruining commercial pack outfitting enterprises).

the romantic and ahistorical pretense that wilderness preserves an "untrammeled" Edenic landscape that no human has ever disturbed

I think that's a bit of a strawmwan, imtnbke. I'm not sure anyone, or at least many, make[s] this argument. There's quite a bit of space between Eden and the industrial to designate/debate as wilderness--i.e. the earlier comment about whether an historic structure should remain within a wilderness designation.

I'm pleased with this decision and glad that the dispute went through the legal process.

Hi, JustinH,

I invite you to read William Cronon's landmark essay on that topic:


Every environmental studies student should read Cronon's essay at some point. It was a landmark when published, even though environmental purists have reviled Cronon for betraying the true faith, and has generated a large body of conservation literature.

I think we've discussed this essay a couple of times. (I'd add that one of the pretexts of deconstruction is the need to secure an opposition against which to read its other. Cronon can historicize a purist perspective of wilderness, but as for the currency of his argument . . .)

You're right; I'd forgotten. And, by the way, and as I think I've mentioned before, I don't endorse every paragraph in Cronon's essay. Overall, though, I find it to be revolutionary, in the positive sense.

It definitely has us talking about wilderness and the parks--never a bad thing.

It was only a matter of time until someone with motives of blazing through a legislated wilderness with a mountain bike busted out the mantra of William Cronon. Wonder if the seals and countless other sea life that will surely thrive in this area will care about Cronon's subjective view that "this is not a church, just a place to harvest for the human profit machine so that we can feel closer to nature".

Legislating for protecting wilderness is more about legislating human endevors of profiteering from a place so that wildlife also has the chance to thrive and have thier own space. Anyone that has the means, can turn their own property into their own slice of wilderness, but to preserve vast landscapes is important. Amazingly, isn't it interesting that this article even states this is the ONLY wilderness of it's kind outside of Alaska on the pacific coast. Hence, it's RARE to even have a wilderness of this type along the pacific, and of course, enter in the "well, it's obviously WRONG to have a place like this. It needs humans cultivating and changing it's environment in order to make it natural". Well, next time I travel to NY, i'll pretend i'm in the wilderness, because I read Cronon's mantra, even if it feels and is nothing like any true natural place that has been set aside to protect it from the wall street profiteers. I'll try not to think of the wilderness in places like Yosemite as a cathedral, ok?

Now you done it imntbike. Kurt will surely be shutting down this thread very soon.

Anyway, leaving aside the debate over the validity of the philosophical underpinnings of wilderness, on a political level wilderness purism is going to doom wilderness. It may already have passed the point of political no return, but we wouldn't know that; a dock resting on rotten pilings doesn't collapse overnight and can still look in fine shape to an observer. It needs a strong wave or a storm for the slowly accumulating deterioration to manifest itself. The Drake's Bay outcome simply bores more wormholes in the rotting pilings. And that is unfortunate, because we should preserve some places as roadless and in a largely natural state, free of big human improvements, i.e., obtrusive infrastructure.

Oh, Kurt, please don't shut down the thread! I promise I'm not offended by anything Gary has written (so far)! :-)

Gary, it might surprise you, but I would think everyone who blogs on NPT agrees with you on 99% of everything. I.e., we all treasure wild places, we all derive a lot of life meaning from the outdoors, and probably many of us find consumer society, with its accumulation of stuff in a probably unavailing effort to bring meaning to one's existence, depressing.

Indeed, most cross-country mountain bikers I know, including me, love mountain biking because it allows us to see more wildlife, more majestic scenery, and more unanticipated delights alongside a trail than do hiking or backpacking, which to our minds are slow and tedious. Mountain biking allows one to see much more than does day-hiking, and it has less impact on the environment than backpacking, to say nothing of trampling everything in one of those dreadful commercial pack outfitter operations.

So if your mental image of us is one of tearing up roots and rocks for a thrill, it's inaccurate for 99% of us—although I couldn't blame you for having that image, when one looks at the woeful advertising campaigns that the mountain bike industry foolishly runs, shooting itself in the proverbial foot with each rip-dominate-thrash print ad it runs.

"Legislating for protecting wilderness is more about legislating human endevors of profiteering from a place so that wildlife also has the chance to thrive and have thier own space."

Profiteering: make or seek to make an excessive or unfair profit, especially illegally or in a black market.

This is what happens in every debate about Wilderness. Wilderness lovers of all stripes feel an irrepressible need to exxaggerate their point. Why is that?

Wilderness lovers of all stripes feel an irrepressible need to exxaggerate their point. Why is that?

Why does Zebulon feel an irrepressible need to exaggerate about wilderness lovers?

(I'm a wilderness lover and don't feel any need to exaggerate my point(s).)

I'll post my comments on a mountain bike thread in regard to that sport. As far as wilderness finally being established in Drakes Estuary, I think it's a good thing. It's been a decade since I was last in Point Reyes, so it's been a while, but I do remember it having at least a moderately wild character to it compared to a lot of areas around the bay area. If they can rewild even a small section of it by removing all the human made oyster beds and allow nature to reclaim it in the next few decades (and yes it will), then that's not a bad thing. Considering this area is in a very heavily populated area of the planet, then it's amazing it even exists at even this semi-wild state to begin with. Is it pristine? No. But over time it could be much better. Agriculture and practices like oyster farming tend to create monocultures, in areas that could support a much more diverse biodiversity.

Shenandoah and the Smokies are an example of recovery. Many areas were clear-cut, or had farms on them. Today, you wouldn't even notice unless you have a trained eye. In another hundred years, these forests will be beyond secondary secessional status, and be back into old growth status if humans can quit introducing non-native insects, and keep pollution and some other threats at bay.

Imtnbike, you almost nailed it when you wrote: "So if your mental image of us is one of tearing up roots and rocks for a thrill, it's inaccurate for 99% of us—although I couldn't blame you for having that image, when one looks at the woeful advertising campaigns that the mountain bike industry foolishly runs, shooting itself in the proverbial foot with each rip-dominate-thrash print ad it runs."

Based on personal experience around here, though, I'd have to say that your 99% number is really about 50%. On our trails, at least half of the riders are exactly out to tear up roots and rocks and other bikers and hikers for thrills.

The only way for the mountain biking community (and the ATV community, too) to gain greater respect from the rest of us will be to police the miscreants and clean up the image of your sport.

(Sorry -- off topic, I know. But . . . . )

Lee, I agree with you. I have become more of a purist over the course of the last decade, just from experiencing a variety of different landscapes. Anymore, I just go to wilderness.net, pull up the maps, and if it shows a wilderness boundary in a place i've never visited before, ill spend my time there and skip the non-wilderness areas. Life's too short to waste it in mountain biker/ATV terrain, OR places like Cape Hatteras : ) . Sure, you miss a lot of america that way, but to each their own.

I hiked 7 miles of shared use trail in the National Forest behind my home yesterday. I was passed by a couple of dozen bikers (typically in pairs). Not one was wearing a GoPro, not one was traveling at excessive speed, not one was yelling "look at me", not one was tearing up rocks an roots and not one of them failed to thank us for stepping aside and wish us a good day.. There are obnoxious bikers. But then there are obnoxious hikers, backpackers, boaters, fishermen, bird watchers..... In my experience, like those catagories, the percent of obnoxious bikers is closer to Imtbike's 1% than Lee's 50%. Or maybe Lee is just doing something to piss those bikers off.

Apparently, the oysters were far from creating any kind of monoculture in the estrero. Maybe Gary has information that the rest of us don't have.

Wow, Lee, 50%. The exxaggeration continues unabated!! :) Obviously, it's impossible to have rational discussion with the wilderness faithful...

Anyhow, the shellfish will soon be gone. People will lose their jobs. Fewer people will visit the estrero, but the pure of heart will rejoice. :)

If one is going to reference Cronon, I feel justified in referencing responses to Cronon.They make for interesting counterpoints.



While Cronon is interesting, his generalizations don't hold up.

Let's see, I encountered four mountain bikers on my hour-long hike this morning. Two came close to running me over (fortunately, their brakes worked). They sheepishly grinned and pedaled off. Do they get points for not hitting me?

That said, there is more courtesy on the multi-use trails, but here in the Beehive State it's nowhere near the 99 percent that's being ballyhooed.

Anytime agriculture is unleashed onto a system, you have the start of a developing monoculture. Looks like Point Reyes is not in any jeopardy of going extinct from declining interest, so Zebulon you may want to rethink your "opinion". From the NPS website:

Total Recreation Visits

  • 2013 - 2,641,808
  • 2012 - 2,412,663
  • 2011 - 2,129,116
  • 2010 - 2,067,271
  • 2009 - 2,170,646
  • 2008 - 2,248,203
  • 2007 - 2,206,294
  • 2006 - 2,065,083
  • 2005 - 1,988,585
  • 2004 - 1,960,055
  • 2003 - 2,224,882
  • 2002 - 2,395,693
  • 2001 - 2,222,762
  • 2000 - 2,325,336
  • 1999 - 2,300,631
  • 1998 - 2,477,409
  • 1997 - 2,506,947
  • 1996 - 2,272,398
  • 1995 - 2,208,369
  • 1994 - 2,466,532
  • 1993 - 2,561,234
  • 1992 - 2,579,949
  • 1991 - 2,396,904
  • 1990 - 2,369,083
  • 1989 - 2,204,407
  • 1988 - 2,241,850
  • 1987 - 2,126,790
  • 1986 - 2,053,399
  • 1985 - 1,991,615
  • 1984 - 2,032,238
  • 1983 - 1,424,751
  • 1982 - 1,344,582
  • 1981 - 1,322,449
  • 1980 - 1,408,810
  • 1979 - 1,489,135
  • 1978 - 1,919,989
  • 1977 - 1,785,200
  • 1976 - 1,620,200
  • 1975 - 1,466,700
  • 1974 - 1,307,900
  • 1973 - 1,231,500
  • 1972 - 1,123,790
  • 1971 - 1,347,700
  • 1970 - 1,089,200
  • 1969 - 973,100
  • 1968 - 574,500
  • 1967 - 521,200
  • 1966 - 411,300

Kurt, maybe they expected you to be kurt-ious and step aside. Did you not see/hear them coming?

Oh, and I agree, its probably not 99% but is probably a lot closer to 99 than to 50. Further, the percentage is not likely different than from hikers, backpackers, boaters..... and we aren't banning them.

Drake’s Bay Oyster Company's growing area has the finest water quality of any growing area in California. This clean, nutrient-rich water produces what are recognized as some of the finest oysters in the world. Drakes Bay Oyster is the only certified organic oyster farm in Marin and the only commercial oyster producer in California that performs its own remote seed setting, which enables the production of its own oyster seed (baby oysters) on site. Currently, the shellfish species produced in the Drake’s Estero include Pacific Oysters and Manila Clams. These shellfish continue to be produced as "singles" and are sold live in-shell as well as shucked and packed in various sized containers.

Everyone is welcome to visit our oyster farm during business hours. Stay and enjoy our freshly harvested shellfish for an authentic experience, or bring a cooler to take some home with you. To help ensure that oysters are available when you visit, please call ahead of time. If you are placing a large order, a phone call a day or two before pickup is recommended.

Free Oyster Farm Tours are available and are provided on a first come, first serve basis. Tastings within the tour are also available for a minimal charge. Although guests are welcome anytime for a tour, please do try to call in advance to schedule a tour time.

I wonder if recreational visitor counts included people touring the farm? Sounds like fun to me.

Interesting stats. It looks like the number of recreationists has barely budged since the early 90s while the total population in the bay area has grown from 6 to 7 million. Truthfully, Point Reyes is a bit far from the rest of the bay area and it's a bit of a pain to go there. The point is that, as I understand it, quite a few folks would go up to buy oysters (not me, not a big fan of oysters) and obviously those visitors won't be going in the future. Furthermore, this park is pretty big (71,000 acres), and a good chunk of the visitors never make it to the estrero.

The monoculture claim is a bit far fetched. By all accounts, wildlife seems to be doing just fine in the estrero, and I am sure that Point Reyes ecosystem will continue to thrive with or without the oyster racks.

Hmmmm. Hiking along a trail ticks off bikers?

Recently, the USFS shut down a "bike race" that was being advertised around here. It's stated objective was to set a new speed record for the Indian Trail. The little flyers they had posted at the trail head warned hikers to be careful because they were hoping for more than fifty bikes to show up and race on June 8. But I guess that warning was a courtesy, no? Two FS LE rangers were stationed at the trailhead and sent bikers away. That caused a bit of a kerfluffle and I heard a report that the race went forward a few days later when the treefuzz weren't looking.

Our local fire department responds to about five mountain bike accidents on the forest here each month. Mostly loss of control usually due to excessive speed. Normally, one or two of the monthly victims were not the ones riding the bikes. It's also unusual for the biker who caused the injury to stick around unless they were hurt, too. All this, and the continual problems with bikers building "jumps" and other obstacles is leading to discussion on the district of banning bikes on at least some trails. In this territory, some of the biking community is the worst enemy their sport has.

Some of the courtesy or lack thereof may have something to do with local demographics. This city is largely a working class area and the majority of mountain bike users seem to be young kids who have little education and a lot of growing up still ahead of them -- if they survive.

But we are now way off topic . . . . and then, I'm just exaggerating, right?

Not surprised that National Park lands contribute to some of the cleanest water quality. Amazing what NEPA rules do when they are followed.

Section c shows a map and the large portion of the estuary was an oyster farm plantation...


Hmmmm. Hiking along a trail ticks off bikers?

Not in my experience

Our local fire department responds to about five mountain bike accidents on the forest here each month. Mostly loss of control usually due to excessive speed.

And of course you can document that. So 5 a month out of what? 5000 rides? 10,000? What percent is that?

Nor does it in my experience -- at least not the sensible and careful and mature ones.

However, there is some hope out there. Ogden City just opened a bike park on some forest / city land at 9th street, not far from my home. It opened last month. One stated purpose is to try to get bike racers to do their thing there instead of on shared trails. Here's a photo from the opening day:

Cody Kelley makes a huge jump on the new trails of the Ogden Bike Park during a grand opening event at the park at the top of 9th Street in Ogden Saturday, May 24, 2014. (BRIAN NICHOLSON/Special to the Standard-Examiner)

But there is absolutely no point in trying to continue with this discussion thread. Keep smiling and come visit us someday. Hike some of our trails and you'll have a chance to see how agile you really are.

Wow, there is so much to respond to! I've been off this thread for six hours and look what happens!

I think we mountain bikers are, unfortunately, in somewhat the same cultural position as BMW drivers. I would guess 99% of BMW drivers are perfectly polite. And there is nothing inherently menacing about a BMW, any more than there is about a bicycle. But there's something about driving a BMW that draws out a small but noticeable number of jerks. Whether they bought the BMW and became a jerk, or were a jerk and that's why they bought a BMW, I don't know. But the upshot of this phenomenon is that some people (1) look at any BMW driver and think he/she must be a jerk, and (2) also think 50% of all BMW drivers are jerks. It's an interesting psychological phenomenon.

There are similar stereotypes for Volvo drivers, by the way (timid and incompetent drivers), and drivers who live in Oregon (crawling along at laughably slow speeds). Even though that's not true of most Volvo drivers or most Oregonians.

The mountain bike equivalent of this is something I rarely see, but I do see it. A year or two ago, in a Bay Area park popular with Latino and Asian families with many kids, a single mountain biker was riding down a narrow trail offensively fast, likely causing alarm to the young parents with their young children (or, if they weren't alarmed, because I don't recall with exactitude if they were, they should have been). It was just one guy who was a jerk. And since then, easily 2000 other mountain bikers have ridden that same stretch in perfect politeness, including me 100 times. But even I, a dedicated mountain bike access advocate, remember that one jerk. So you can bet the families probably do too. Then combine that with people's suspicion of new cultural phenomena and the nice, clubby arrangement for hikers and pack outfitters that has long existed in wilderness and the national parks, and the result is . . . well, it's too bad.

But to restrict mountain biking the way it's now restricted in the U.S. is a cure far worse than the mountain-biking-jerk disease. Look at our overweight and obesity rates. And look at how many kids are wildly enthusiastic about a wilderness hike. The first figure (lack of fitness) is high, the second (kids champing at the bit to put on a backpack) is low, at least by historical levels, as far as I can tell from decades of anecdotal observation.

Mountain biking isnt restricted by any means. I already posted maps for you that show trails where one can mountain bike. Utah alone has so much terrain open to mountain bikes it would take many lifetimes to do them all. Since you cant have "ALL places to mountain bike", that doesn't by any means make your entire sport locked out. Quit whining.

Secondly, just because a bunch of powder puffs that probably couldnt carry more than 45 lbs on their backs and hate to hike, doesn't mean that others don't enjoy such an activity. So many of our National Parks already have their fill of backpackers. It's not like they can "grow more land", so permits and regulations put limits on the activity. Every year, the AT is packed with through hikers attempting the trail. The shelters can be jam packed with people and it's not like the NPS wants to make more shelters to accomodate more and more and more. Also, your comment that you see more while mountain biking is wrong - completely wrong. I film for a living, and the best way to see wildlife behavior is not by a bike or car, but it's when you are sitting still, silent in the wilderness observing the life around you.


Mountain biking isnt restricted by any means.

It's not? Does that mean someone can bike anyware? Of course not, but then, that is what "restricted" means. The fact it exists in one place doesn't mean it isn't restricted elsewhere. Using your argument, one can say there is no lack of Wilderness and Parks- look at all the Wilderness and Parks that exist. You can always go those places if you want Wilderness or Parks.

As to backpacking the AT - first, any respectable thruhiker on the AT wouldn't have more than 45 lbs in his pack and I challange you to call any of them "powder puffs". Second some shelters may be jammed but for the vast majority of the shelters the vast majority of the time, they are well below capacity. Oh, and BTW, its not the NPS that builds AT shelters.

Finally, as to "seeing more" it depends on what you want to see. If you want to sit still and watch a single animals behavior then obviously a bike is not the right tool. If you want to see a large variety of terrain and vistas, sitting in one spot isn't going to make it.

Something like 65% of Montana is open to mountain bikes. The way the mountain biking, and orv culture whines they make it seem like a MAJORITY of trails are closed to them. It's not. And yes, there are our national parks and wilderness areas that are preserved for walkers, and have limits to ORVs and mountain bikes, and there is a lot of that to explore. I never said there wasn't. I have spent much of my life seeking those areas, and still haven't gotten close to visiting all that there is to see in them. There's only one major National Park in states like Montana, Oregon, and Nevada, only a handful in Wyoming. But that's not good enough for the mountain bike crowd. They want every place opened up to them. They have more than enough places to ride. In fact the % of land that is open to them in public lands is above 50% in almost every state, not less than that. Wilderness comprises a mere 4% of our landscape in the US. A small number. Actually, through hikers usually carry more than 45 lbs. And yes, the shelters can be busy in the spring to fall...but hey, what would I know since I spend so much time in the Smokies?As for experiencing nature. Whizzing by in a mountain bike doesn't allow one to stop and see the little things.

This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous comment.--Ed.

Ok, folks, when we have to start deleting comments it's time to close the thread.