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Lack of Funding for Indiana State Parks Could Lead to Extra MTB Fees

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is proposing a mountain bike permit that would be required for bicycle access to trails in all state parks. This would be in addition to the entrance fee already required, which is being raised this year. This new permit structure would negatively affect many popular riding areas across the state including the Brown County State Park trail system, a top mountain bike destination in the Midwest.

Indiana’s IMBA chapters are asking mountain bikers to speak out for increased funding for Indiana State Parks.

ACT NOW! Your e-mail messages and phone calls are important. Find your legislator’s contact information here and reach out BEFORE May 19.  

Ask your elected officials to fund the state parks general fund at a level that won’t make them severely expensive to access, and that won’t exclude out-of-state riders or the dollars they bring to local economies.

Read on for details and talking points.

The proposed MTB permit would make Indiana’s state parks prohibitively expensive to out-of-state riders, stunting tourism that has been growing over the last decade. The permit would also present a costly roadblock for low-income outdoor enthusiasts and could discourage new mountain bikers just getting into a sport that promotes responsible and healthy outdoor recreation, something much needed in the state of Indiana.  

The proposed permit is a result of reduced general fund budgets for Indiana State Parks and a shift toward “pay-to-play” management. In conjunction, state park permits, passes and fees will be increased starting May 13, 2015. Indiana residents that currently pay $40 for an annual pass will now pay $70 to ride, out-of-state riders would have to pay $90 for an annual pass.

The mountain bike community has contributed more than $2 million dollars to Indiana State Parks over the last decade via federal, state and local grants, as well as thousands of hours of volunteer labor. This work has literally put Indiana state parks like Brown County, Versailles and O’Bannon Woods on the map as destinations for mountain bikers nationwide at little to no cost to the state.

Talking points for your letters and phone calls:

  • Indiana State Parks are funded by the State Legislature and user fees.  Over the last decade, funding from the legislature has decreased, which has forced additional and rising costs on users. Currently, the State of Indiana provides less than one-third of operating costs for state parks.

  • Mountain bikers are concerned that the combination of the mountain bike permit and increased gate fees will impact the number of Hoosiers enjoying our state parks, and have a negative impact on local economies by limiting tourism from out-of-state riders, particularly when there are multiple riding opportunities in nearby states that are free.

IMBA does not oppose user fees outright, but the ideal is for them to go directly toward improvements in the user experience, or additional trails that allow mountain bikers.