I need a place to begin - advocacy and access
I know, I know - do a search.....but the subject matter seems so overwhelming.
Short story: we have access to about a 7 mile trail/loop/system in far eastern North Dakota. Mountain bike access at Turtle River State park has gone from nothing (10 years ago) to mediocre (8 or so years ago) to pretty darned good (3 years ago). IMBA has been to the park and given training to the public and staff. The head ranger has been cool-ly receptive to bikes in the park, even going so far as to discuss trying to make it a MTB destination, since the Maah Daah Hey gets all the support in the west.
Recently though, the management has started to sign and close the trails they have deemed interpretive and needing reclamation - granted we knew it was coming but the reality stinks. A few of us riders called a meeting with the park last week to discuss the future, and the end result is that in order for there to be more trails, we need to start an access plan and work with the State to develop a masterplan for park trails. I would guess we could easily create 30+ miles of trail in this little park and it would be fantastic. Other users groups are hikers, birders, and other naturalists.
There is of course a lot more to this (past trailbuilding effort, university cycling club involvement, etc.), but I am not even sure where to start. I'd like to get moving with advocacy and access tips/tools, develop a wish list, initiate a meeting with the State parks managers, and start talking about the proper planning.
Well it seems like you are taking the right steps in terms of organizing and approaching the park regulators about your concerns.
We have had a similar situation here in Philly at the Wissahickon Valley Park. In 2006, the Philadelphia Mountain Bikers Association formed to help with another volunteer group to help rebuild trails that have been severely damaged by erosion. We are currently involved in a enormous trail restoration plan that will take years and millions of dollars to finish, but we are working hard to make sure the trails are sustainable as well as enjoyable to ride.
Currently, the IMBA trail team is in our park helping us with the first leg of the project. They are helping us build a couple miles of new - really f***ing sweet- singletrack. We are learning a lot from them, and some members of PMBA who have been around since '06 have already worked with IMBA on two other trail projects within our park.
My biggest suggestion to you is to contact IMBA. See if you can get enough riders together to form your own IMBA chartered group and work to come up with a plan and fundraising ideas. You will probably need to work with park experts to make sure your plan is doable.
It takes a lot of work to do what your doing, but you seem to have the right mindset. Just keep it at.
Doing your homework is crucial. You need examples of other (similar) areas, successes; how comparable issues have been dealt with. If you can partner up with an existing organization you will automatically have more respect and clout than if you are trying to do this on your own.
Dannyc21, is the IMBA chapter program actually in effect now? I had heard that was coming up ( as compared to just being an affiliate)
To much to put here, Call me if you want.
If you ain't hike you ain't Mnt Bikin