MWBA’s Response to IMBA’s Testimony Against HR 1349

The current MWBA Board is a long time supporter of IMBA.

MWBA IMBA Trail Bosses ride out for a trail work scoutWe’ve lauded IMBA’s willingness to stick up for the underdogs of the conservation world (that’s us, the mountain bikers!), working along side the giants such as the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. We’ve had our differences politically and operationally over the years, but the respect has been there.

Recently, the IMBA Board has made some choices we disagree with. Because we firmly believe a solid mountain bike community is more important than a few philosophical differences, the MWBA Board made the conscious decision to continue our support despite our differences. However, as IMBA chose to double down on their decision to oppose the Sustainable Trails Coalition and their mission for Wilderness access to be determined by local land managers, we felt it was time to take action.

MWBA asked our community what to do.

We sent out a survey to our membership and the local Los Angeles mountain biking community. We believe it is critical to gather the empirical data to support the anecdotal evidence that mountain bikers want a common sense approach to Wilderness. Over 80% of respondents support mountain biking in Wilderness areas per the land manager discretion.

Reassured by this data, we sent a letter to the IMBA Board of Directors and requested they amend their testimony to the House Subcommittee on Federal Land, and retract that they represent their Chapters, their members, and the mountain biking community when they oppose HR 1349.

IMBA did not survey their local Chapters or membership base before making their testimony and as our survey clearly showed, IMBA’s stance does not represent our community.






You can view the contents of the letter below.


January 2, 2018

Dear IMBA Board,

We write to you in toto, as the Board of Directors of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA), and representing the mountain bike community we serve in Los Angeles.

When David Wiens made his statement opposing HR 1349, on behalf of IMBA, IMBA Chapters, IMBA members and the mountain bike community at large, you collectively failed to gather input from Chapter leaders and/or members. Your insular decision has created a backlash that we suspect, no one from IMBA was prepared to receive.

The outcry against IMBA’s opposition has been swift and loud. People have expressed their disappointment and anger, and have demanded IMBA realign with the community they serve. Additionally, SDMBA and The New England Mountain Bike Association drafted a petition demanding IMBA not to lobby against mountain biking in Wilderness. We can report, a little over a week after the petition was made public, it garnered over 6,800 signatures and the numbers are still climbing.

MWBA conducted a survey of our community in Los Angeles, which among other topics included the current Wilderness issue. An overwhelming majority of our respondents, over 80%, desire “MTB Advocacy groups to work towards bicycle access in existing Wilderness areas via amending the Wilderness Act.”

Contrary to anecdotal and empirical data, you have created the perception our mountain bike community is divided, when in reality, the division is between the mountain bike community and IMBA.

This correspondence is to relay our disapproval with this decision, and it is also a Call to Action from our Board of Directors and our membership base to the IMBA Board of Directors.

We ask you amend your public statement to the House Committee and remove that you represent your Chapters, your membership base, and mountain bikers in general.

 We ask you make it clear that your statement to “not Support” HR 1349 is based solely on the decision made by the IMBA Board of Directors and key IMBA staff, and that this decision was made without outreach to any IMBA Chapters,  members and mountain bikers.

We have already sent a letter to Chairman McClintock and other Congresspersons in our area to inform them that IMBA does not represent nor speak on behalf of the Chapters, members and the mountain bike community at large. 

We cannot express enough the disappointment your constituents feel towards the IMBA Board of Directors and the key IMBA staff. We hope that IMBA will take action that truly represents the mountain bike community.

With Deep Concern and Disappointment,

The MWBA Board of Directors


  1. Psst…. Learn to read. Seriously…. Learn to read.

    IMBA is not supporting the bill. Re-read that last sentence.

    Now that you’ve done that, point to where IMBA is actively opposing it as you stated in your second paragraph?

    I’ll save you some time: You won’t.

    Also contrary to your other assertion, IMBA DID survey its Members in Spring 2016, and the strictly defined issue of bike in Wilderness didn’t rise to the top of concerns.

    But hey, don’t let things like definitions and facts and truth prevent you from being so lazy and miopic.

    I’m done with YOU.

    • I would say they are actively opposing 1349 by providing written testimony against 1349 to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands Hearing on 1349, in which they say “IMBA is not supporting H.R. 1349.”

      I mean, it could come down to what your definition of “actively opposing”, so let’s break it down: they took action where none was required by writing the testimony and submitting it to McClintock. So, that would qualify as “Actively” in my book. The statement of “not supporting H.R.1349” is an oppositional statement.

      In my view, they could have done nothing, in which case would qualify as “not supporting,” but to go out of their way to write the testimony saying they (and by extention their membership – which is probably inaccurate) do not support the bill, that’s a de facto opposition.

    • A few points of clarification:

      1) Arguing over semantics is a losing battle. IMBA says they “don’t oppose” the bill, but rather, they “don’t support” it is the exact same thing in this case. The timing of their testimony to the House the same morning Ted Stroll was to testify in the House Committee meeting is only not “not supporting” the bill, but a flagrant opposition. If they wanted to maintain their stance of not supporting the bill, then they would have done nothing.

      2) IMBA surveyed their members in May 2016 as a direct response to their STC Press Release where they stated did not support STC. I know this because I was on the call the morning of the press release was made public with all of the other Chapter Leaders who were upset. In fact, it was MWBA Director Erik Hillard who suggested they conduct a survey and find out what their members were thinking, to which they wholehearted agreed. The survey, incidentally, did not ask directly about people’s thoughts on STC and the Wilderness issue. I know, I took the survey and wrote in my answers in the comments section. If you actually read their results of the survey, there is no mention of Wilderness, which made the survey useless regarding Wilderness.

      3) A survey from May of 2016 is irrelevant to their testimony of December 2017 because enough time had passed and they needed to take another temperature gauge because, to your point, the issue has bubbled to the surface. Had they done that, the numbers would have pointed to the fact that they did not speak for the majority of their members and Chapters.

      4) Which brings me to my last point. Our goal in sending the letter to the IMBA Board was not to change their position on Wilderness and STC, but rather to amend their testimony and clarify they only speak on behalf of themselves and not on behalf of their membership base and their Chapters.

      Saying you don’t oppose the bill, but rather you don’t support it, will not change the fact that you actually oppose the bill, and saying differently will not make it so. Just like name calling using terms such as miopic and lazy also doesn’t make it true or factual.

    • G. Bailey — If IMBA isn’t “opposed” to HR 1349 why didn’t they say that? They could have submitted testimony that said they “didn’t oppose HR 1349.” But they didn’t. Why? I’ll save you time — because that isn’t what Luther Probst and other conflicted members on the IMBA board felt compelled to do given their professional allegiances with the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society et. al. These IMBA board members are financially conflicted to serve on a board for a mountain biking organization. Their income is reliant upon good relations with the elite Clubs and Societies in DC. Both IMBA and the Backcountry Horsemen of America are being politically played by the Club and Society. Both will suffer the consequences in the longer run.

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