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A Non-Traditional Thank-You Note

A Non-Traditional Thank-You Note

By: Bruce Alt
Posted: December 23, 2015

Thank you for your help—we’ve done it! The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was recently reauthorized by the U.S. Congress.

Highlights of this advocacy win include:

  • LWCF was reauthorized for 3 years with no changes (the new expiration date is September 30, 2018)
  • Gained approval for a  50-percent increase in funding over last year’s enacted amount ($450M in appropriations for FY16)
  • Targeted IMBA Action Alerts in key congressional districts inspired excellent open and action rates 

I am writing to earnestly thank all of you who contributed to IMBA's advocacy efforts related to the LWCF. IMBA's board members; chapter leaders, individual members and staff all participated at key points on this long, sometimes uphill trail and that helped us collectively achieve success. 

While we came up short of our ultimate goal for permanent reauthorization, restoring LWCF for an additional three years with a 50-percent increase in funding over last year’s enacted level means that many more projects will move forward—projects that benefit mountain biking and recreation in general in many communities across the nation. That is great news!

So, why am I posting this non-traditional (to wit, I haven't used even a single emoticon!) note of thanks and appreciation? 

Ultimately, this LWCF success was achieved at the final hour in Congress, and was only politically possible because a very large and diverse coalition of interests (some clearly not historically aligned) found common ground and worked together. The take-home lesson for mountain bikers, whether IMBA members or not, is twofold:

  • Engagement is key. In order to achieve any type of policy success in our democracy today, we simply must have many more active voices engaging than we have in the past. 
  • The biggest challenge mountain bikers face is ambivalence and apathy. The old adage “The world is run by those who show up" is a truism that applies to all policy objectives, from reauthorizing LWCF to securing the future of the Recreational Trails Program to obtaining National Monument designations and, yes, successful negotiations related to Wilderness proposals.

IMBA relies on our Chapter leaders and members to help positively influence others to become more involved in mountain biking issues so that we can all achieve more of our goals in 2016 and beyond.

  • The power of coalitions is awesome. It's amazing what we can all accomplish working together if we don't focus on who gets the credit. The simple reality is that the mountain bike community is just one group in a larger collection of outdoor recreation stakeholders. In order to be effective, we must strive to come together, act in unity, speak with one voice and work with others in collaborative coalitions. At times we may agree to disagree on other separate issues in order to work successfully and efficiently towards a mutually beneficial common goal.

This is our humble request of each IMBA member today as we head into 2016: Please help encourage other mountain bikers you know to engage productively, in whatever form that may be for them, and in their area of interest and locale. And, wherever possible, encourage and foster coalition building. We simply have, and will continue to achieve much more through coalitions then we can achieve alone.   

The coming year will offer many opportunities for effective mountain bike advocacy—I hope and trust that IMBA will be able to count on you!

— Bruce C. Alt is IMBA's Vice President of Government Relations

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