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Analysis | E-bike approval by USNPS

During the administration of President George W. Bush, officials who oversaw public lands and the environment would frequently wait until 5 P.M. on Friday to announce rollbacks that would help businesses and industry at the expense of environmentalists and recreational users. The hope, presumably, was that no one would notice. For some of those years, a top official at the Interior Department was a man named David Bernhardt.

Bernhardt is now secretary of the interior, and he must still favor the tactic. Late in the day on August 29, the Thursday before Labor Day weekend, Bernhardt signed a secretarial order that could open an enormous swath of public lands to electronic bicycles, those motorized two-wheelers that have become common in cities but are a newer and more contentious presence on unpaved trails.

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