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  1. #1
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    France Park (IN) Riders....Bad News...

    The park has raised the fees to $7 again I asked one of the rangers what the cause was and was told "inflation". The regular park fee (fishing, swimming, etc.) is still at $2 which I believe is what it was last year. There aren't a lot of riding spots in this part of the state and France Park is nice, but $7 is a very high price and the last time they did this it about killed the trails there (few riders, riders sneaking on, trails deteriorating, etc.) so who knows what will happen this time.

    The really frustrating thing is MTB pay $7 and have to show helmets (which I'm fine with) but then you see all sorts of kids (camping) riding the trails with no helmets or protection what so ever. These families can pay their camping fee ($5 a night I believe) and the whole family is out there about to kill themselves on the trails. Now, when a 10 year old kid busts his head open on a trail and they weren't "required" to wear a helmet, who do you think is going to sue the park?

    If anyone out there knows who to work with on this, I would be more than happy to give it a shot as I'm in the area quite a bit on work and live within an hour.

  2. #2
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    Hmm. That doesn't seem fair. I've never ridden there, but France Park is nice. I remember going there as a kid and diving from the rocks with my dad. (I see it is against the rules now, I wonder if it was 20 years ago.)

    I wonder with the mountain bike fee if they use that money to maintain the trails or if it goes into the general fund for the park. If it isn't dedicated for the bike users, it is unfair to charge more than the gate fee. Otherwise they should charge $7 for every person hiking on the trails.

    I go to Indiana Beach a couple of times each summer, and was planning on riding there some time while driving by. Maybe I'll pass.

  3. #3
    aka greyranger
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    $7 for that place is a joke. The trails are not taken care of, not marked. I would rather drive 1-2 hours to get to Kickapoo instead. That's coming from Indaina Beach area which is 20 minutes away. If they did things to promote trail riding and increase milage I would not mind paying.

  4. #4
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    contact your state representative in that area and ask them what is going on. They will probably contact the park and ask them for answers.

  5. #5
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    I emailed the park earlier this afternoon. I'll post whatever (if) they reply. France Park is operated by Cass County, not the Indiana DNR, so a state rep will have no power over them. Going to IB or Turkey Run / Shades is the only reason I drive that way from Fort Wayne, but otherwise it would be a good place to camp on the way to IB. If a trip is just for riding, I can be at Fort Custer in Michigan in the same amount of time as it takes to get to France Park. I think F.C. has a $5 gate fee for out of state cars, and much better riding.

  6. #6
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    That place is a fun ride, a few fun spots, but not worth $7 when most places are free! I don't live close by, I just did a DINO triathlon there, is there a local mtb advocacy group around that could bargain volunteer trail maintenance for lower/no trail fee?

  7. #7
    JmZ
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    Ft Custer was up to about $8 for out of staters last time I was up there. Only seem to make it up there 2 times a year, so never really worth it for the yearly pass.

    For the fees, the INDNR is hard to beat. Potato Creek, Brown Co, Versailles, and more coming on line too.

    It's a pity about Franke, any word from HMBA?

    JmZ
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  8. #8
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    A few things: First JmZ, it's France Park outside of Logansport, not Franke Park (Ft. Wayne??).

    Yes, this park is run by the Cass County parks department and I don't believe a state rep would be much if any good.

    I'll try to contact HMBA and let them know what is going on. Does anyone know who to contact there?

    France Park isn't and never will be a "Mecca" type of destination like Brown Co., Versailles, etc. it's just too limited. But it is pretty good riding for N. Indiana and does have a little bit of everything. The trails are in pretty good shape right now and other than a few large trees down everything is rideable.

  9. #9
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    Jmz - Fort Custer must have charged me the in-state rate last fall then. There, everyone pays the same gate fee though, and I don't mind paying it.

    Yes, you cannot beat INDNR for value at the parks. No matter how you use them, an annual pass is only $36, and the daily gate fees are low. I really support they given us mountain bikers. Seems like other states are closing more land, and ours is opening more up.

    I did get an email back from France Park. They say the extra fee is used to maintain the trail and cover additional liability they have for biking. That doesn't explain the question posed about campers riding back there or while so many other trails are free. She also made a comment they are just trying to stay alive this year. So I suspect Cass County's budget is wearing thin, especially if they were funded out of property taxes. Raising rates for one group is probably not the way to boost attendance.

  10. #10
    JmZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otter
    A few things: First JmZ, it's France Park outside of Logansport, not Franke Park (Ft. Wayne??).
    Yeah - I knew that, just wrote the wrong one. Paul A and Mike H were the ones to contact, but I'd think a message on the hmba advocacy forum would attract the appropriate attention.

    Brian H talked to them a few years back when the rates were looking to rise last time. He has held races there (www.dinoseries.com), and it looks like DINO will be there again in August.

    There's a few rides around I/80-90 and off of I-30, but then it's a trip north or south.

    Except for the races, don't know how big the ridership is down at Logansport. Is there a decent riding community, or...

    JmZ
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  11. #11
    aka greyranger
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    Is there an online map of the trails at France Park?

  12. #12
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    Hmba

    Paul A from HMBA here,

    I don't know that HMBA has ever had much of a relationship with France Park. I will contact Brian H from the DINO series as he has held races there and would be a good lead. Are there mountain bikers who volunteer to maintain these trails or is the Park doing all the maintaince?

    Shoot me a PM and will get in contact with any local riders.

    Times are tight for all park systems, so any user group that counts on the parks to fund the maintaince of their facitities is going to see increased cost or closures. The best way to keep trails open and costs down is for local riders to support there local trails and make sure the park's spend little or nothing to maintain mountain bike trails.

    Paul, HMBA Prez.

  13. #13
    aka greyranger
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    I only get down towards France Park in the summer(trips to Indiana Beach area), But when I have ridden there, I have never seen any other riders. Are there many riders in the area? I would be willing to help one weekend to do trail work. Up here in the Chicago area there is CAMBR. They have work days all the time and do a great job of letting everybody know when.

  14. #14
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    Paul is right about the maintenance. With our talks with the Fort Wayne Parks Department and the Franke Park trails, their only concern was zero cost or burden to the city. Once they knew we'd do all the work, they let us do almost whatever we want with the trails.

  15. #15
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    Paul-

    There aren't a lot of MTB'ers in the area and I would say that on a nice weekend you might see 10-12 people total that have used the trails (based on the sign-in sheets). What LITTLE maintenance that is done, is done by the park.

    There's a bit of a history between the park and bikes...some good and some bad. But I would be up for a trail day to build some good will and help out the park.

  16. #16
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    Brian H from DINO here...

    I spoke with the park manager today, as DINO received a letter a couple weeks ago about the price increase for 2009. She says there was an error made at the county level with regard to funding, which severely hampered the park budget. They are having a really hard time just meeting their payroll etc.

    The races will not be exempted from the price increase. We will hold the races this year, too late to change that - but I am concerned that people balking at the fees will mandate us moving our races elsewhere. This gives the effect of the park shooting itself in the foot regarding mountain biking, losing anything it gained by bumping up the fee.

    The place to start is the Cass County Park board. Write letters. Better yet attend a meeting. Contact info is here: http://francepark.com/

    There are not too many local riders who help with the trails. That is part of the problem, so if you live anywhere nearby, please volunteer. Dennis Artrip is the one I know of who works on the trails. The park office can put you in touch with him.

  17. #17
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    I have only ridden France Park once, but plan on going again as I have to go right by it for some work travel. I tried to go a couple other times but it was too wet. I live near Kickapoo in IL, so I get to ride there free, although we almost lost the park to Blago. I have ridden many trails in IN and MI, and don't really mind paying a little. But what I hate are trails that are not marked very well! And France, as well as a lot of others, are not marked very well at all. When I ride these places, I don't have all day to explore. I often ride in the evening and have had times when I didn't know if I would get out of the trail by dark. Maps help some, but most are not that accurate and I have to get off the bike every half mile and try to figure out were I am.
    France Park mtn bike trails overall are just ok, but there are a couple of places where it is fantastic. Flowing singletrack through the woods, and riding on top of the big rocks by the lake are great.
    I will say that the park ranger I talked to at France Park was very helpful.
    Please give us trails that are better marked.

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