Editor’s Note: This post is courtesy of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The original post can be found here. Below is a summary of each of the initiatives IMBA’s Government Relations team spearheaded this year.
Access/Land Protection Campaigns
Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Proposal — Montana
Working with local chapter MTB Missoula, Montana Mountain Bike Alliance and statewide members, IMBA negotiated with wilderness and recreation advocates to create a 3,000-acre National Recreation Area companion designation on public land where a wilderness proposal originally threatened 30 miles of valuable trail. It further proves our model of compromise and collaboration truly does work. The next step is to support U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s anticipated bill in Congress. Read more about it here.
Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Campaign — Arizona
Conducted a nationwide advocacy campaign to preserve two iconic mountain biking trails on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, if President Obama chooses to designate the Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. The campaign featured “A Monument for All” video that has thus far earned 10,000 views, three guest blogs, and over 1,300 online letters to the White House and Council on Environmental Quality. Visit the action alert for more information and to add your voice.
Key Advocacy Takeaways: If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu. Winning means showing up.
Public Lands Agency Planning Engagement
Nantahala-Pisgah Recreation Collaborative — North Carolina
IMBA SORBA chapters worked to create a model process for collaborative engagement and future recreation and wilderness protection negotiations on U.S. Forest Service lands. They signed on to an MOU with over 40 forest user groups, including The Wilderness Society and other environmental organizations, to protect public lands and champion recreation-focused management plans. This landmark work continues in 2017 with the hope of preserving and creating additional MTB trails.
National Forest Planning — New Mexico
IMBA’s Southwest and Alaska Regional Director and chapter members are actively participating in the multi-year U.S. Forest Service Forest Plan Revision processes for the Cibola, Carson, Santa Fe, Gila and Lincoln National Forests. In each of these processes, we are submitting critical information in order to preserve and enhance backcountry access. It is essential that chapter members participate in these processes where future trail access is determined.
National Forest Planning — California
IMBA’s California Region Director and chapter members are actively participating in the multi-year U.S. Forest Service Forest Plan revision process on the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo National Forests–an area covering 4.4 million acres. Forest plans set the overall management direction and guidance for the forests, are revised only once every 20 years, and lead to future wilderness recommendations and where MTB access is decided. Chapters and members were engaged at every step in the process, and were very successful in generating well-informed comments and influencing this planning process in favor of mountain bike opportunities and continued trail access.
National Forest Planning — Montana
IMBA’s Associate Region Director and chapter members are actively participating in the multi-year U.S. Forest Service Forest Plan revision processes on the Custer-Gallatin, Flathead and Helena – Lewis and Clark National Forests. Chapters and members organized and submitted informed comments. In addition, they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the Bitterroot National Forest’s Travel Management Plan to review the Plan’s NEPA process and learn more about the agency’s approach to recreation and management planning. FOIA requests are an essential and at times necessary part of the public process.
Key Advocacy Takeaways: It is critical that Chapters, members and the mountain bike community participate in these public lands planning processes where future trail access and land protection designations are determined. Big numbers (of informed participants) matter.
Mission Advancing Policy/Legislation
Adjusting Existing Wilderness Boundaries — Utah
When it comes to IMBA’s involvement in Wilderness bills, IMBA has listened to our members and drawn the line: we will vigorously defend current and future mountain bike access to trails and only support Wilderness legislation when it includes mission advancing policies and/or components. Our collaborative work with Trails Utah and the Salt Lake Valley Trails Society in the Mountain Accord process in Salt Lake City met both criteria. First we defended existing and potential access to key trails like the Wasatch Crest, the Bonneville Shoreline trail and others. But simply retaining status quo access is not enough to win MTBer and IMBA support. So we worked to include a mission-advancing component by way of including a legislated moving of multiple small yet impactful boundaries in three existing Wilderness areas along the Wasatch Range that severed continuous bike access to the famed Bonneville Shoreline Trail. This purpose is now included in the legislation and intent of H.R.5718 – Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act. We have set the stage for a huge policy win that will further influence future mountain bike access and Wilderness negotiations across the country.