Here's some good news for those of us who live near National Parks.

Three Pilot Programs Unveiled

The pilot mountain bike programs will be carried out in Big Bend National Park (Texas), Fort Dupont National Park (Washington, DC) and Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio). Each of the three programs is unique, but all will involve substantial study of the recreational benefits and potential impacts that mountain biking can bring to national park units. Big Bend National Park (Texas): John King, Big Bend's superintendent, says his park is close to initiating an Environmental Assessment study, a necessary first step toward creating opportunities for singletrack riding in the 801,000-acre park. "I expect that we'll be able to start the study in a matter of weeks," says King. "First, we'll find out if mountain biking is appropriate for Big Bend. If the results of the study are favorable, we'll move forward with a rule-making procedure that would open the way for mountain biking in non-Wilderness areas."

Fort Dupont National Park (Washington, DC): Fort Dupont provides a unique opportunity for singletrack mountain bicycling inside the Beltway with eight miles of existing trails open to biking. However, the trails are in need of repair to make them more environmentally sound.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio): While the timetable for establishing a pilot mountain bicycling program in Cuyahoga is still in development, local bike advocates are hopeful that preliminary studies will be approved. "The park is only 15 minutes from downtown Cleveland, and is no more than an hour and a half from more than 4 million residents of northeast Ohio. This has the potential to produce one of the best trail systems in Ohio and a destination for the entire region,"says Mike Farley, of the IMBA-affiliated Cleveland Area Mountain Bicycling Association.

Nine Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew Visits Proposed
In addition to the three pilot programs, the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews hope to visit as many as nine National Park units in 2006. The Trail Care Crews will provide expert advice on trail etiquette and rider education, managing mountain bikes, trailbuilding and trail repair. The Crews will work with local mountain bike clubs, other trail user groups, community leaders and park staff to foster communication and collaboration. Visits have been proposed for these parks:

* Big South Fork National Recreation Area (Tennessee)
* Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (Minnesota)
* Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
* Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, Cochran Shoals Unit (Georgia)
* Homestead National Monument of America (Nebraska)
* Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (Tennessee)
* Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (California)
* Mammoth Caves National Park (Kentucky)
* Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

40 National Parks Units Already Offer Mountain Bike Access More than 40 NPS units already provide mountain bikers with the opportunity to explore their parks on dirt roads and trails.

Bringing mountain bicycling to national park units that do not already have bicycle access will not happen overnight. New riding opportunities (including the IMBA/NPS pilot programs) require detailed study by park officials, as well as special rule-making procedures for each park. Also, land that is protected as Wilderness, as well as proposed Wilderness, will not be considered for these mountain bicycling programs.