It's not unusual for IMBA to receive a panicky e-mail message or phone call along these lines: "Help — my favorite trail is about to get shut down! What do I do?"
First, be sure to get the facts straight — don't rely on rumors. Key questions to ask include:
- Why is the trail being closed?
- Who is making decisions regarding the closure?
- Where exactly is the closure?
Next, get involved with your local mountain bike club. Often a local group will already be working on the issue. Nearly all successful attempts to keep threatened trails open are led by groups, not by individual riders.
Ask the decision-makers if you can provide input. If necessary, ask for a delay in decisions to gain time.
Help mobilize your group. Hold meetings, attend hearings, provide information, volunteer for trailwork, etc.
Get businesses with economic interest in the local trails to back you, including bike shops, resort and tourist groups, newspapers and other local companies.
Be respectful and develop a responsible reputation. Ranting and raving will not help keep trails open. The political process requires cooperation, patience and tenacity.
Learn from the process to anticipate future problems. It's much more effective to work with land managers and other user groups before a situation reaches the crisis stage.