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