Cali peeps ... here's the latest on IMBA's Tahoe Trails Conference (Oct. 1-3). We're hoping to rally a good group to attend and put together effective, pro-MTB comments in response to the current Forest Service planning efforts for Lake Tahoe.

The timing for IMBA's Lake Tahoe Trails Conference (Oct. 1-3 at the Montbleau Casino) is well suited for mountain bikers who hope to influence the long-term plans that will shape trail development in the U.S. Forest Service's Tahoe Basin Unit. According to the Forest Service website, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be issued this fall, and the office plans to receive comments from the public until Dec. 31. Planning efforts like the one the Tahoe Basin is conducting commonly shape how individual Forests handle trail development and recreation for a decade or longer.

Registration for the Tahoe Trails Conference is available online now. All local, Tahoe-based riders qualify for a substantial reduction in conference registration fees. IMBA members receive an additional 10-percent discount on registration (be sure to log in before registering).

In recent conversations with Forest service officials, IMBA's California Policy Advisor Tom Ward learned that several conservation groups are currently more organized than mountain bikers with their responses to the Tahoe Basin planning. "These groups have already created detailed proposals that could drastically change mountain bike access," said Ward. "For example, some groups are calling for new Wilderness near South Lake Tahoe that would permanently close trails like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."

"The Tahoe Trails Conference will give concerned mountain bikers all the tools they need to formulate an effective response to the Forest Service's draft plans," said Ward. "This is a great opportunity for riders to work together and make sure that the entire mountain bike community can stand behind our requests. IMBA will provide workshops and expert advice on how to present our ideas in a manner that the foresters can understand and utilize in their final plans."

IMBA legal advisor Jeremy Fancher will provide advice on effective methods for working through the U.S. Forest Service planning process. IMBA will help attendees develop scoping comments and draft responses to the current EIS draft. Other conference topics include sessions on trail science, developing technical trails and creating authorized trails for all mountain bike interests.