PARK CITY, UTAH (BRAIN)—A panel of high-level federal land managers from the U.S. and Canada addressed the future for mountain biking in national parks and on other public lands during the IMBA World Summit last Friday in Park City, Utah.
Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service and Parks Canada—all entities that allow mountain biking in some capacity—spoke about the challenges and opportunities in increasing mountain biking trails and access on publicly owned land.
Though the National Park Service has been slow to change its old views on mountain biking, it now looks at the sport as an avenue to rejuvenate visits to national parks.
The NPS signed an agreement with IMBA in 2005 to work together on new mountain biking projects, however designating new trails is time-consuming due to the long review process required by the government, said the NPS’ Karen Taylor-Goodrich.
Two parks—Golden Gate National Parks Association and Saguaro National Park in Arizona—have recently gone through the formal rulemaking process and have special regulations in place for mountain biking, Taylor-Goodrich said.
Other national parks areas, such as the Santa Monica Mountains in California and Big Bend in Texas, already offer mountain biking.
The U.S. Forest Service manages 145,000 trails, 70 percent of which area already open to mountain biking, but “all is not perfect in paradise,” said Jim Bedwell, director of heritage and volunteer resources for the Forest Service.
Issues such as limited resources and Forest Service employees who are already stretched thin make it difficult to look at new opportunities for mountain biking, Bedwell said.
Also on Friday, GT announced that it would sponsor two Team IMBA groups at 24 Hours of Moab in October. Instead of raising the minimum $1,000 for Team IMBA, the riders—all GT employees—will raise at least $5,000 per team, said Michael De Leon, public relations manager for Cannondale Sports Group, which includes GT.
De Leon encouraged others in the bike industry to do the same.
“Imagine the statement it would make if we could come together as riders, as bike producers, as advocates at one event,” De Leon said.
Cannondale will also sponsor a team, said Scott Struve global director of marketing for Cannondale.
The summit, which attracted 400 delegates from 22 countries, began last Wednesday and ended on Saturday with a 20-mile group ride followed by a barbecue.
For more on the 2008 IMBA World Summit, be sure to read the July 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.