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  1. #1
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    We the people ... Will recreation drive conservation in the future?

    IMBA and other Colorado based groups have been promoting the idea that the old-school conservation groups like the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy are losing their momentum and that recreational users, like mountain bikers, may be where new conservation initiatives will come from. Here are a couple articles that discuss the ideas:

    Mountain Biking and Conservation Groups Teaming Up | Elevation Outdoors Magazine
    Can Climbing and Mountain Biking Save the Conservation Movement? | 303Cycling News

    Kind of an interesting turn of events given the power of those lobbies. But, then again, MTBrs have a long way to go before we can match the clout of those groups.

  2. #2
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    The Sierra Club has been losing clout over the years because of its extremist views. The Nature Conservancy, IMO, is not losing much if anything. They are major landowners and can engage in conservation efforts on their own land, starkly opposed to the Sierra Club.

    But this applies to more than just those organizations. There is evidence also that the "North American Model" of wildlife conservation is in a rough patch. Fewer people are buying hunting licenses, and those purchases (and taxes from firearms and ammunition) fund wildlife agencies in the states for things like land acquisitions and wildlife conservation projects. There is talk of expanding the Pittman-Robertson tax to cover outdoor recreation equipment to keep state conservation coffers full due to declining revenues from reduced hunting license purchases.

    I haven't heard any serious proposals in government about doing so yet, but some conservationists are starting to talk about it because the outdoor recreation market is a big one with a lot of money flowing. I happen to think it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring all outdoor recreation purchases into the fold. For one, it would serve to further legitimize mountain biking as compatible with conservation goals.

  3. #3
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    My local Wildlife Management Area (20K+ acres) is in discussion with me regarding recreational trails. Currently you have to have a permit to be on the property during big game season, but are free to use the land outside of big game seasons. They are wondering if people would still be interested in using the area recreationally if they charged $20 for a usage permit for the rest of the year. It seems like, maybe recreation will help drive conservation, because in this area, 200 acres is a gold mine for trails. But 20K? I'm giddy. Plus a good network of gravel roads and some great topology might allow a shuttle style down hill trail, something this area simply doesn't have.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    But this applies to more than just those organizations. There is evidence also that the "North American Model" of wildlife conservation is in a rough patch. Fewer people are buying hunting licenses, and those purchases (and taxes from firearms and ammunition) fund wildlife agencies in the states for things like land acquisitions and wildlife conservation projects. There is talk of expanding the Pittman-Robertson tax to cover outdoor recreation equipment to keep state conservation coffers full due to declining revenues from reduced hunting license purchases.

    I haven't heard any serious proposals in government about doing so yet, but some conservationists are starting to talk about it because the outdoor recreation market is a big one with a lot of money flowing. I happen to think it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring all outdoor recreation purchases into the fold. For one, it would serve to further legitimize mountain biking as compatible with conservation goals.
    I support this, but they then need to quit being arses to MTN bike riders and so on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    My local Wildlife Management Area (20K+ acres) is in discussion with me regarding recreational trails. Currently you have to have a permit to be on the property during big game season, but are free to use the land outside of big game seasons. They are wondering if people would still be interested in using the area recreationally if they charged $20 for a usage permit for the rest of the year. It seems like, maybe recreation will help drive conservation, because in this area, 200 acres is a gold mine for trails. But 20K? I'm giddy. Plus a good network of gravel roads and some great topology might allow a shuttle style down hill trail, something this area simply doesn't have.
    there's talk in my state of a similar sort of annual trails pass for state forestry land to forestry can start to see some revenue from outdoor recreation, also. State parks have already seen a nice boost in revenue since becoming friendlier to mtb access a number of years ago.

  6. #6
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    IMBA and other Colorado based groups have been promoting the idea that the old-school conservation groups like the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy are losing their momentum and that recreational users, like mountain bikers, may be where new conservation initiatives will come from. Here are a couple articles that discuss the ideas:

    Mountain Biking and Conservation Groups Teaming Up | Elevation Outdoors Magazine
    Can Climbing and Mountain Biking Save the Conservation Movement? | 303Cycling News

    Kind of an interesting turn of events given the power of those lobbies. But, then again, MTBrs have a long way to go before we can match the clout of those groups.
    The conservation industry has to keep up with the general public perceptions it feeds on, but they also need enemies to survive. Once you have polarized your organization it's hard to get friendly with the enemy without losing credibility and contributions, so they may die out with their constituents. In any case, today's issues concern different user groups who I think tend to be more active and hands on than in the past, and have a different set of needs relating to how conservation is done. As user numbers of conserved resources go up it becomes more a practical matter of handling traffic than eliminating traffic. I think it is entirely possible that IMBA will replace one of the old organizations in terms of power and clout, in fact I think it is happening. As the numbers show, these orgs are very generational in nature, and their generation is disappearing fast. Their influence will hang on for awhile but I think it's doomed in the long run. They were also largely successful at their particular agendas, I think, and so paved the way to current concerns which involve long term resource survival in the face of popular useage. My own feeling is that recreational use is preferable to other more extractive uses but that it brings it's own set of issues involving how the pie is cut, and user numbers eventually determine most of that. In my state, for instance, bicyclists outnumber hunters and fisherman, and trail users is the largest division of recreational participants.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    In my state, for instance, bicyclists outnumber hunters and fisherman, and trail users is the largest division of recreational participants.
    I found it interesting that I couldn't find mountain biking explicitly mentioned anywhere in this document. Oh well, I guess MTBers still have some work to do to get recognized.

  8. #8
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    I 100% agree with the idea of "recreation as conservation". Its one of the more awesome things I've become aware of and believe in. And it doesn't just extend to MTB. There are multiple studies showing how much revenue recreation brings in to local communities and even nationally (think gear).

    Look at our national parks, state parks, land trusts, etc. As for where MTB fits in, well it is growing. I think one my favorite examples of the "recreation as conservation" principle is the Maine Hut Trail. If you XC ski I highly recommend it. They're open in the summer too and claim to MTB friendly, but from what I saw this winter the trails would leave something to be desired from any moderate rider. However, for XC skiing hut to hut it is perfect.

  9. #9
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    How to get money is different than how it is used to shape usage.

    There is a bit of a rethink going on about EIRs and the way that they are used to simply obstruct. Total exclusion of groups like mtb while allowing others have won the Sierra Club few modern members. Further I have heard mtb advocates encourage equestrian orgs in California that they had best make a deal while they can unless they find themselves out in the cold with their dwindling numbers and a growing mtb population.

    How will we prevent the old style of usage with the new money from my sleeping bag purchase?
    I don't rattle.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BonkedAgain View Post
    IMBA and other Colorado based groups have been promoting the idea that the old-school conservation groups like the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy are losing their momentum and that recreational users, like mountain bikers, may be where new conservation initiatives will come from. Here are a couple articles that discuss the ideas:

    Mountain Biking and Conservation Groups Teaming Up | Elevation Outdoors Magazine
    Can Climbing and Mountain Biking Save the Conservation Movement? | 303Cycling News

    Kind of an interesting turn of events given the power of those lobbies. But, then again, MTBrs have a long way to go before we can match the clout of those groups.
    It is an interesting question; MTBing is a fairly humble sport in regards to it impact on the environment and as there is little direct reason why it cannot help to aid conservation, it seems like a viable future path worth delving into.

    Here in Northern Ireland there have been a few high profile new MTB parks opened which has inadvertently attracted more footfall/tyre-fall in these areas, which has in turn caused these areas to become more recognized as areas of natural importance and the respect appears to have increased from any riders I've spoken to whilst out on the trails.

    Lets hope it can be implemented (and recognized) as part of the sport and have less barriers being placed in front of sports that are intertwined with nature.

  11. #11
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    How to get money is different than how it is used to shape usage.

    There is a bit of a rethink going on about EIRs and the way that they are used to simply obstruct. Total exclusion of groups like mtb while allowing others have won the Sierra Club few modern members. Further I have heard mtb advocates encourage equestrian orgs in California that they had best make a deal while they can unless they find themselves out in the cold with their dwindling numbers and a growing mtb population.

    How will we prevent the old style of usage with the new money from my sleeping bag purchase?
    Good question, and the answer is that the money goes to projects, and increasingly those projects are mtb related. The important thing is to keep moving forward with projects so the money has a place to go. In my ranger district, for instance, trail construction crews are also doing TMP related road closure work, which takes pressure off delicate resources and replaces the old destructive uses with compatible and sustainable infrastructure. Our willingness to work is our greatest asset at this point.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

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