As mountain bikers, we are naturally conservationists.
We love being outdoors, we love nature, the fresh air, the smell of trees, the sound of the crunch of pine needles or leaves under our tires as we commune with nature in the way we love best, on a bike. There is nothing quite like traversing wide distances in the mountains while appreciating our surroundings.
The Wilderness Act is a conundrum for us mountain bikers because it automatically pits us against other conservation groups that we should be in alignment with such as the Sierra Club or the Wilderness Society. We all have the same goal of preserving the wilderness lands we so love and appreciate, and experience. But because we are banned from all Wilderness areas, we can come across as anti-conservationist and that is hurting us. How we appreciate our lands should not exclude us from wearing the conservationist moniker.
The STC/IMBA issue has made it very clear to us that, if we as mountain bikers, do not stand up for our rights to access and enjoy nature in the way that delights us the most, there is a real possibility that we could slowly lose that access. The threat is real. We need to stand together.
The MWBA board agrees that IMBA’s stance on not wanting to support STC publicly is sending the wrong message to law makers and other advocacy groups that would love nothing more than to kick us off our trails permanently. We believe we must stand together, as a united front. Division will do nothing to further our mutual cause of gaining/maintaining trail access, not losing it.
We believe we represent the majority of our membership base and sent a letter to Mike Van Abel, the President of IMBA to urge him to reconsider their stance on not publicly supporting STC.
I write to you on behalf of the MWBA board and members regarding IMBA’s public position to not support STC’s decision to lobby Congress to alter the Wilderness Act to allow for local land managers to determine if bicycles should be permitted in Wilderness Designations vs the current national blanket ban of bicycles in all Wilderness Designations.
We believe the strategy currently employed by STC is the most direct and a good course of action of furthering our goal of gaining/not losing our access to the trails. We urge IMBA to stand in solidarity with STC and represent the wishes of the mountain biking community at large and their respective IMBA chapters. We are concerned that IMBA’s lack of public support for STC will only divide our community and make our voices ineffective to not only the organizations IMBA is currently trying to maintain good relations with e.g. The Wilderness Society and The Sierra Club, but also to the law makers.
We believe that fighting the fires that pop up across the country is not the most effective way for IMBA to advocate on our behalf, though greatly appreciated. We urge IMBA to listen to its constituents and advocate on behalf of them, by being inclusive of the efforts put forth by organizations such as STC to increase our chances of access in areas that are appropriate for mountain bikers.
We will make our position public within the next few days and we will also encourage other IMBA Chapters as well as our members (both paid and non paid) to urge IMBA to send a clear and unified message that the mountain bike community is organized and united, by supporting STC’s goals.