PHOTO: NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis chats with IMBA's Ashley Korenblat, Mike Van Abel and Jenn Dice.
Director of the National Park Service (NPS) Jonathan Jarvis addressed the National Bike Summit Wednesday morning, thanking attendees for their participation and emphasizing that the NPS is working toward being an improved partner with cycling advocates, including IMBA, in the future.
Director Jarvis stated that the NPS relationship with bicycle-based recreation is improving and will continue to do so because the NPS and cyclists share many common values. He said that the park service is all about quality of the experience, and on a bicycle, people can slow down, learn more and explore more, thus improving the quality of their experiences.
Jarvis singled out IMBA to say that the seven-year formal relationship between IMBA and the NPS has been beneficial to several parks around the country. He emphasized the importance of land protection first and his willingness to work with cyclists with conservation values in mind.
The theme continued during the IMBA-sponsored session, “Mountain Biking: An Emerging Constituency for the National Park Service.” Don Striker, Superintendent of New River Gorge National River, presented on the successful partnership he has forged with IMBA. As a result, 14 miles of shared-use trail were recently built in New River Gorge National River, with the help of IMBA Trail Solutions and 32,704 hours of labor from 1,022 Order of the Arrow Boy Scouts.
“IMBA was involved right from the beginning. They taught us everything we know. Doing our research meant talking to IMBA and reading the IMBA book Trail Solutions,” said Striker.
Striker counseled that not each of the 397 park service properties is appropriate for mountain biking. Striker’s primary piece of advice to cyclists was to form partnerships with NPS staff, and to do so early before you need or want something.
“Understand our ethics at the NPS, then argue within that realm,” said Striker.