BOULDER, CO (BRAIN) — The International Mountain Bicycling Association joined other outdoor nonprofit advocacy groups and clubs in voicing its concern about the impact the federal shutdown is having on public land access.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders Monday night, the Outdoor Alliance—a coalition of five national membership groups—stated that the shutdown has negatively affected efforts to build and maintain trail systems on public lands; impacted revenue from mountain biking, whitewater kayak races and other activities that have been cancelled; and been demoralizing for outdoor enthusiasts who have planned and trained for months or years for once-in-a-lifetime trips only to be denied access to many of the national parks.
Making up the Outdoor Alliance are the Access Fund, American Canoe Association, American Whitewater, International Mountain Bicycling Association and the Winter Wildlands Alliance.
Collectively, the Alliance has members in all 50 states and a network of almost 1,100 local clubs and advocacy groups representing millions of outdoor enthusiasts who hike, paddle, climb, mountain bike, ski and snowshoe on public lands.
Directors of five other alpine and mountaineering clubs also signed the letter.
“From what we hear from our members, who cover the entire political spectrum, they are upset and they are angry,” the letter read. “Although we do not have any answer as to how to resolve the differences triggering the government shutdown, we know that as it relates to our public lands, the shutdown is having a very real social and economic impact on the American people,” the letter concluded.
Two weeks into the shutdown, 12 of the parks in the National Park System have temporarily reopened; 389 remained closed.
Mark Eller, communications director for IMBA, said meetings with Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officers have been stalled, resulting in the delay of mountain bike groups carrying out local trail work and other projects.
“We just did our staff reports from around the country on a group call and the federal shutdown has affected local mountain bike groups from coast to coast,” Eller said. “We aren’t partnered with federal agencies exclusively, but for example, canceling a trail work day on the north rim of the Grand Canyon—that was a cool project we had been looking forward to.
“We’re able to shift our emphasis to work with state groups, but federal agencies like the Forest Service and BLM have a huge impact on where trails go and when work gets done on them,” Eller added.