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A timely message to IMBA members and supporters: Wilderness policy agenda

A timely message to IMBA members and supporters: Wilderness policy agenda

By: Mike Van Abel
Posted: December 11, 2015

Since IMBA’s inception, the question of bikes and Congressionally designated wilderness (“Wilderness”) compatibility has been examined, discussed, and acted upon (e.g., IMBA Land Protection Toolkit and Wilderness Toolkit). Over the past decade, IMBA has devoted proportionately greater resources to advocacy activities that support and drive mountain bike trail access gains on public non-Wilderness lands as Wilderness accounts for only 2.7% of the total acreage in the continental US. As new proposals for additional Wilderness protection arise, IMBA steps forward proactively and raises funds, researches, guides and supports our association of local members and chapters. We lobby and testify in Congressional hearings in order to craft  win-win compromises. We work within coalitions that have common interests. That’s how legislation gets passed. Pressure on our public lands comes from a wide range of sources and by any measure mountain biking has enjoyed a meteoric rise in access and influence.  And while we know firsthand the pain of the occasional loss, we also enjoy the privilege of being a respected and credible member of the federal lands community with an active and growing stakeholder base that continues to succeed in maintaining and enhancing trail access.

The very recent narrative being fueled by a new advocacy group’s (the Sustainable Trails Coalition) effort to change the current policy on bikes and Wilderness has brought new attention to IMBA and its chapters’ advocacy efforts. To fully understand how and where IMBA invests its members’ contributions is to understand how IMBA is organized. IMBA is not a national mountain biking club. IMBA is the sum of its parts - a true association of more than 200 local organizations called chapters, with 30,000 individual and corporate members, as well as independent local groups that connect to IMBA in a less formal manner than our chapters. The arduous work of preserving and enhancing mountain bike trail access happens foremost at the local level. It happens because IMBA’s grassroots volunteer advocates invest in local trail stewardship and public land conservation that gets noticed at the DC level.  Today, with membership at an all time high, IMBA has invested in full and part-time field-based regional staff (currently 21 paid staff and growing) who actively support local chapter volunteers’ advocacy and trail stewardship programs.

In February, IMBA’s board will finalize an advocacy strategy that has been under active development over the past several months. It’s an augmented strategy that will build upon our solid record of decades of effective advocacy work. This strategy is being vetted by select local chapter leaders and key advocacy partners as IMBA is mindful and respectful of all points of view. For now we simply ask that the entire mountain bike community please engage with your local chapter; don’t believe everything you read in the media and social media; and most importantly, support our many truly dedicated local volunteers with some expressed appreciation of their hard work. Thank you. 

Sincerely,

 Robert Winston signature.tif

Robert Winston, Chair of the Board, and

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Michael L. Van Abel, President and Executive Director

 

  

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Bio

Since 2004, Mike has steered the IMBA juggernaut as its President and USA Executive Director. He does so under the auspices and leadership of IMBA's volunteer board of directors. "It's a dream job and a privilege to combine one's personal passion with that of your vocational goals.", says Mike. His professional career spans over 30 years of not-for-profit work. "It's the dedication and generosity of volunteers and contributors that daily inspire me. And that makes the tough times and days when I wonder, 'Am I making a difference?', all come into perspective." "I am most fortunate to be part of a community that is making the world a better place."

Since 2004, Mike has steered the IMBA juggernaut as its President and USA Executive Director. He does so under the auspices and leadership of IMBA's volunteer board of directors. "It's a dream job and a privilege to combine one's personal passion with that of your vocational goals.", says Mike. His professional career spans over 30 years of not-for-profit work. "It's the dedication and generosity of volunteers and contributors that daily inspire me. And that makes the tough times and days when I wonder, 'Am I making a difference?', all come into perspective." "I am most fortunate to be part of a community that is making the world a better place."

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