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Advocacy victories

Major advocacy successes

IMBA was founded in 1988 by a group of California mountain bike clubs concerned about the closure of trails to bicyclists. Those pioneers believed that the development and promotion of mountain biker education programs and innovative trail management solutions were the key to gaining and maintaining access. This is just a sampling of what we have accomplished since then. 

  • Created and promoted IMBA’s “six rules of the trail,” which land managers quickly began to adopt and which helped them get comfortable with the idea of allowing bikes on existing trails. (1988)

  • Reached a monumental agreement with the Sierra Club, in which the powerful and influential organization recognized (for the first time) mountain biking as a “legitimate form of recreation and transportation on trails, including singletrack.” The meeting also led to the separation of mountain biking from motorized trail use in official Sierra Club policy. (1994)
  • Signed our first partnership MOU with a federal land management agency, the U.S. Forest Service, for the purpose of promoting mountain biking. (1994)

  • Hosted the first national mountain bike advocacy summit in Arizona, with 160 people in attendance. (1996)

  • IMBA hired its first full-time advocacy director, Jennifer Lamb. Her job was to build a cohesive network of state IMBA representatives and build mountain biking's clout in the halls of government. (1997)
  • Signed a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), kicking off one of our most productive land agency partnerships. (2000)
  • IMBA released its first “Access Report Card.” It provided key information about trail access, highlighted the challenges facing mountain biking and assigned an overall letter grade to each state and Canadian province. Many advocates would go on to report that poor state rankings helped motivate them to organize and encourage local officials and land managers to create more opportunities for mountain biking. (2000)

  • Prevented the BLM from classifying mountain bikes as motorized vehicles in its new management plan. (2001)

  • Helped secure bike-friendly National Recreation Areas (2009)

  • The IMBA Public Lands Initiative protected or expanded nearly 3,000 miles of trails across the country, trained hundreds of volunteer advocates and reduced by nearly 90 percent the trails threatened by Wilderness designations. (2010-2012)

  • Partnered with the National Parks Service (NPS) on a rule change that allows for mountain biking in NPS properties, if the superintendent desires. (2012) 
  • Helped secure multiple National Monument land protection designations, which are mountain bike-friendly, including Fort Ord, San Gabriel and Berryessa Snow Mountain in California. (2009-2015)

  • Moved a 1964 Wilderness boundary in New Mexico to restore access to a continuous mountain bike trail (2014)

  • Helped protect the Recreational Trails Program, a federal funding source that has supported countless trail projects nationwide, particularly in the eastern U.S. IMBA also worked with its advocates to get more mountain bikers on state RTP committees. (1990s-now/RTP funded through 2020)

  • Helped preserve the Land and Water Conservation Fund, another funding opportunity for local trail projects. (2016-now/funded through 2019)

  • Helped pass the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, which addresses the vast trail maintenance backlog on our national forests and streamlines opportunities for volunteer stewardship. (2016)


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