Ashley owns Western Spirit, a cycling company in Moab, Utah and she also founded Public Land Solutions, a consultancy that helps protect public land in Utah and beyond.
A: Well, mountain biking and land use are tightly tied because the less public land there is, the less access we have to enjoy, explore and adventure in new and beautiful places.
I first got involved with advocating for public land many years ago when I was working at a bike manufacturing company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At the time, the threat of trail closures in that area led to my involvement in helping prove that mountain biking on trails was more beneficial than harmful. I made my voice heard and contributed my woman-hours to help keep these trails open. It has been my purpose and passion since then to continue working to support public land usage – and the reason I started PLS.
The United States has some of the best public lands in the world. It would be a shame to lose the right to enjoy them.
A: I suppose it’s less about “changing” the world and more about “protecting” it. The recreation industry is totally dependent on public lands. As a mountain biking enthusiast, I understand the need for partnerships with state parks, bureaus of land management and national forestry services to have access to the recreational activities I enjoy.
But protecting public lands is about more than mountain biking. In many cases, development plans can have a negative impact on the surrounding area’s recreation economy, cultural tourism and health and safety issues.
A: I have been on some backcountry ski trips to remote huts in Canada that are only accessible by helicopter. When you’re dropped at the cabin, the quiet is like nothing else.
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