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What makes a good Dig In project?

What makes a good Dig In project?

Selection criteria and examples of past Dig In grant awardees

Posted: May 16, 2022
NYCMTB volunteers
Photo courtesy of: NYCMTB

The Dig In program is a platform for IMBA Local partners to raise funds for local mountain bike projects. IMBA and Shimano run a national marketing campaign and provide grant opportunities for selected proposals. Since its inception in 2020, Dig In has helped raise $193,000, matched $77,000, and leveraged at least $895,000 more for mountain bike projects across the country. The program offers a way for organizations to get national attention for local projects.

Each cycle, IMBA receives a variety of Dig In project proposals. Below are criteria for selection and examples of past projects that illustrate the diversity of proposals and the impact of mountain bike projects on communities.

Projects on public lands that are free and open to the public and serve mountain bikers as the primary users, though multi-purpose human-powered trail uses are viable as well.

Walden Ridge Construction Phase I
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Type of project: Construction
Status: Ongoing

Walden’s Ridge is a 200-acre park that will offer gravity-oriented mountain bike trails and recreation opportunities for climbers, hikers, and general trail users. It’s also a great example of a project with a concerted effort from several organizations - SORBA Chattanooga partnered with the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy (current landowner), The Southeastern Climbers Coalition, The Land Trust for Tennessee, and Hamilton County Parks & Recrecreation. After the trails and related facilities are completed, the land will be turned over to Hamilton County and will become the first public bike park in Chattanooga.

Dig In dollars will fund the cost of professional trail builders contracted to build trails and facilities.

Projects that will result in a visible and substantial increase in access, improved mountain bike experiences, and greater community benefit.

Olmos Basin Park Trail System Signage Project
San Antonio, Texas
Type of project: Maintenance
Status: Ongoing

Trails need good signage, as illustrated by this Dig In project. The Olmos Basin Park trail system is located in a 1,100-acre park in the San Antonio urban core. However, given its proximity to a large urban population, trail usage remains low. The lack of signage has been cited as one of the main reasons more people do not use the trail system. This project aims to improve trail signage, get more people to use the trail system, and encourage local residents to volunteer for trail maintenance.

The Southern Texas Off-Road Mountain Bikers (STORM) hopes that this project improves the health and social outcomes of the community. Studies indicate high levels of social and socioeconomic vulnerability within a five-mile buffer of the Olmos Basin Park boundaries. There are also high rates of diabetes, hypertension, and other health challenges in the same area. 

Dig In funds will be used by STORM for mapping, trail reroutes where appropriate, and the creation of wayfinding and educational signs around the system.

Projects where the Dig In Program stands to leverage additional resources to ensure the success of the project.

Narrowback Trail Connection
Rockingham & Augusta, Virginia
Type of project: Design
Status: Completed

Dig In funds don’t have to be used just for trail planning, design, construction, or maintenance. The money raised can also be used to tap into larger funding sources.

Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) received a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to construct three miles of trail connecting the Narrowback Tower Trail to a newly constructed parking lot on the edge of the George Washington National Forest. Dig In funding helped support the 20% monetary match required to unlock the RTP grant, and SVBC was able to leverage an additional $40,000 for the project. The Chapter later submitted a Dig In proposal for the construction phase of the Narrowback Trail Connection project. They were able to raise $10,100 online and unlock Shimano’s $2,000 matching grant.

Projects that promote community development, volunteer recruitment, new rider development, youth riding, and engaging marginalized community members. Higher preference will be given to projects that demonstrate a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Auburn Bike Park
Auburn, California
Type of project: Construction
Status: Ongoing

The Auburn Bike Park opened in May 2020 and has provided recreation opportunities and a healthy outlet for young and old during the pandemic. Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition (FATRAC) applied for a Dig In grant to add features to a bike skills trail at the Auburn Bike Park to help riders practice and improve their riding skills. The Chapter has a great idea for attracting youth volunteers. FATRAC will coordinate with local teachers and builders who will train youth to construct, assemble, and install wooden features for the skills loop. In return, those youth volunteers will be eligible to receive free bike skills coaching from certified instructors.

Fort George Connector Trail Crib Wall
New York, New York
Type of project: Construction
Status: Ongoing

NYCMTB is building the Fort George Connection in Highbridge Park where Manhattan’s only sanctioned mountain bike trail network is found. The trail will connect three existing trails across the upper and lower sections of the park and aims to replace negative trail use such as illegal dumping and illicit drug use with healthy recreation. High Bridge Park is located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, a historically under-served community in New York City, and has been a gateway into mountain biking for many individuals in the neighborhood and the city who would otherwise need access to a car to participate in mountain biking.

Dig In funding will be used to host seminars on crib wall construction and acquire additional materials for crib wall construction.

Interested in applying for a Dig In grant? The application can be found in the Dashboard. If you are a member of a Local organization, you can get in touch with your organization’s board regarding your project.

Learn more about Dig In

About the author

Jali's passion for cycling and the outdoors began in Philippines where she was born and raised. She shared her love for the outdoors by accompanying students on environmental research trips and facilitating youth camps on marine conservation. Her love for cycling was reignited when she moved to…

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