Moving Mountain Biking Forward in Caliente
Photo: Courtesy of MTB Project.com.
IMBAs advocacy efforts in Alaska got off to a great start recently when we attended the Alaska Trails Conference in Anchorage, as presented by Alaska Trails. The event was attended by advocacy groups, political figures, land managers, and professional trail builders, and was comprised of a series of workshops on trail planning and design in this unique subarctic terrain; large trail development initiatives; the economic impacts of trail-based tourism; and mapping initiatives.
I presented on the latter, focusing on MTBProject.com, and its rapid growth. Municipal officials who attended the workshop were especially interested from a tourism and marketing perspective and plan to add their trails to the program this summer. We also co-presented with Levitation49 (our only chapter in Alaska, based in Valdez) on the benefits of national partnerships as a way to grow and strengthen local initiatives and this workshop was again well received by attendees.
Lots of side conversations were had too, with land managers from the BLM, Alaska State Parks and the USFS. Alaska is home to Tongass National Forest, the largest in the USA at almost 17 million acres, and the Chugach National Forest, the third largest in the country at almost 5.5 million acres—those forests hold huge potential for trail development. Several advocates mentioned Chugach State Park near Anchorage—we hope to begin a discussion with the State Parks Department in the coming months about the potential there.
During this visit I also had a great ride at Kincaid Park (City of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department) with parks department staff and volunteers from the local club, Singletrack Advocates. We were joined by three moose on the ride, and then by 50 local advocates for an Alaskan potluck that evening. A big thanks to everyone for such a warm welcome on our inaugural visit to Alaska, I look forward to getting back up there this summer to visit Juneau, Anchorage (and the Kenai Peninsula), Valdez, and Fairbanks to meet again with folks and get more involved in some trail planning initiatives.
— Patrick Kell is IMBA's Alaska Region Director.