With the launch of IMBA’s new website comes the opportunity to better interact with IMBA's members and supporters. The overarching feature of IMBA.com, v2.0 is technology that supports more interaction, including this new blog section. Communication with members is key for me as IMBA’s president and USA executive director.
After all, IMBA exists for its members, and our work is only possible with your support. Blogging affords me the opportunity to tell you what's going on at IMBA. It also lets me hear back directly from you — I look forward to reading your thoughts and questions in the comments section of this blog.
See below for my first post ...
— Mike Van Abel
The essence of IMBA’s mission — as well as our day-to-day work done in partnership with our local chapters and clubs — is to create change. We are agents of change. Consider the effect over the past 14 years of just one of IMBA’s programs, the Subaru-sponsored Trail Care Crew. Many land managers have described the TCC as the “Johnny Appleseed” of trails throughout the USA and Canada.
The educational efforts and on-the-ground trail building performed by the Crews have literally changed the landscape for mountain bikers. Their work, like many IMBA programs, brings change in at least three critical arenas: 1) a widely appreciated competency with regard to trails, their design, function, enjoyment, stewardship and environmental sustainability; 2) presenting mountain biking in a way that encourages youth and families to recreate outside in numbers beyond most more traditional forms of outdoor recreation; and 3) demonstrating a new framework for changes in public lands policies that encourages access coupled with science-based recreation management.
The changes that IMBA brings about result in many tangible benefits: 1) conservation and preservation of open space, healthy forests and grasslands; 2) protection of wildlife habitat; 3) protection of watersheds; 4) reclamation of eroded areas that resulted from poor trail design; 5) urban and suburban parks development; 5) rural economic development and 6) enhanced individual and public health and wellness. All that, and our trails are also a blast to ride!
Now, if you are an IMBA member you have heard this all before. Make no mistake though — this message and the compelling reasons for change have not yet systemically pervaded our public lands recreation management practices and policies. In fact, there's a big disconnect between what IMBA knows and how mountain biking is managed throughout many corners of our public lands. It compels us as advocates, as beneficiaries of mountain biking on public lands, to continue pushing for change.
I know how discouraging it is when the change we seek comes so slowly, or not at all. I hear you when you reach out and ask IMBA for help. I see and appreciate your time commitments as volunteer advocates and trail stewards. I know your patience occasionally runs out — how could it not?
It's important for IMBA to push for change sooner, not later. Our members and supporters have landed solidly on the question of “When will change happen?” not “Should change happen?” The only question for us at IMBA is “How do we bring about change?” And that’s the question I intend to explore in coming blog posts.
What are the priorities for IMBA in the weeks, months and years ahead? Where are we most effective? What have the successes taught us? Where have we taken the unwise shortcut, and where can we find the path to lasting change?
I invite you to examine these issue with me. Post your suggestions on this blog, and tell me where IMBA is missing opportunities, or scoring victories that others can use to model success. Thanks in advance for letting me know where you see the next opportunity to create change.