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2021 Omaha Trail Care School

2021 Omaha Trail Care School

Building Rapport and Shared Vision

By: Liz Chrisman
Posted: December 3, 2021
Photo courtesy of: Tim Lillethorup

On October 2-3, IMBA Local Partner THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) and key area land managers gathered for an IMBA Trail Solutions Trail Care School in Platte River State Park. Hosting local volunteers and land managers in the same space and digging alongside one another was pivotal to the success of building trail momentum in Omaha. Together, the group built more than sustainable drainage into a section of existing trail—they built rapport and a shared vision for the future of mountain biking in Omaha, Nebraska.

Leading up to the weekend’s field workshop, IMBA Trail Solutions hosted a no-cost Sustainable Trails Workshop for area land managers, thanks to the guidance of the Sherwood Foundation and the Omaha area Natural Surface Trails Steering Committee. This workshop’s focus acquainted these key stakeholders with the terminology, foundation-level trail design and sustainable construction techniques, and planning for successful trails. This pre-workshop was an essential step in catalyzing the rest of the weekend.

Our recent visit to Omaha was a blast of fresh energy,” said Joey Klein, senior trail specialist for IMBA Trail Solutions. “I was amazed at how eager attendees were regarding all things trails and mountain biking.” Joey, alongside Trail Solutions veteran builder and instructor Chris Orr, led the two-day workshop that provided the foundational knowledge for the assessment, maintenance, design and construction of sustainable trails. The participants covered hydrology and erosion, triage techniques, planning and design of new trails and reroutes, construction methodologies and best practices and an introduction to crew leading. 

“Working with the Omaha area land managers, trail volunteers, and riders was great,” said Chris Orr. “The group realized that working towards a broader based community friendly trail system will benefit everyone and will encourage new riders and stewards into the trail systems.”

Out of the 24 attendees, everyone came away with heightened stoke for the education and ability to put their hands in the dirt for trail creation. “My experience with the TCS (Trail Care School) with IMBA Trail Solutions was awesome,” said THOR President Chris Spargen. “Seeing area land managers come together to learn sustainable trail design with THOR was a huge step towards ultimate goals we see for our area of Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa!” Chris also noted that to much of the public’s surprise there’s major momentum for natural surface trails in a state historically known for its agriculture. “We aim to redefine that and help turn our area into a top place to live through more trails close to home,” said Chris.

This Trail Care School in Omaha is a crucial first step to elevating existing soft surface trails in the Cornhusker State. Many Omaha stakeholders attended the 2021 Trail Labs in Bentonville, Arkansas and those experiences have only further accelerated this community to continue momentum leading into 2022. “Omaha and its surrounding areas are about to pop with great trail systems, supported by awesome trail stewards and land managers,” said Chris Orr. “IMBA is assisting with foundational, community-oriented education, and providing awesome trail and bike opportunities—that with the right programming will lower the barriers to outdoor recreation for many...and get people outside!”

Are you interested in hosting a Trail Care School in your community? Contact Marty Caivano, IMBA’s Community Engagement Coordinator, for more information.


Chris Orr explaining a concept while in the field.
Joey Klein discussing flagging techniques.
THOR and area land managers carving out a new section.
Chris Orr discussing technique with workshop participants.
Using a field hoe to break up the fresh dirt.
Joey Klein giving direction as the team works on a turn.
Chris Orr demonstrating a build technique using a McLeod.
Joey Klein giving feedback to participants.
About the author

Liz (she/her) grew up pedaling a garage sale 10-speed on the dirt roads of the Arkansas River Valley and on tarmac throughout college. While finishing her master's program, a coworker handed her a rigid Gary Fisher, drove into the Ouachitas and they conquered mileage on the IMBA EPIC Womble…

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