Should IMBA be more active in environmental issues?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Should IMBA be more active in environmental issues?

    I'm curious what folks here think. Clearly, there are a number of very significant environmental issues on the table right now: drilling in the Arctic Refuge, scuttling the Endangered Species Act and dismantling the Roadless Initiative. Historically, IMBA has touted itself as an environmentally friendly organization. That said, in 2005 IMBA also seems to have a number of balls in the air with the current pro-republican Congress and Washington D.C. in general.

    So I'd like to here what mountain bikers think IMBA should do? Should they comment on these issues? Force action alerts? Partner with groups like Defenders of Wildlife who have active campaigns regarding these issues? Do nothing?

    I personally would like to see IMBA do more to get involved with these issues. As a mountain bikers, I hold environmental protection in the highest esteem. What do other fat tired enthusiasts think.

  2. #2
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    I think that IMBA should not involve itself in environmental issues. Primarily IMBA should be a mountain biking advocacy organization. If it is not directly involved with allowing or preserving access for mountain bikers then IMBA should not have a position on an issue.

    IMBA should be aware that it's members have varied stances on ALL issues not directly connected to the reason they joined IMBA. That one issue is mountain biking advocacy.

    There are plenty of other single issue organizations. I even believe there is even one specifically addressing Wilderness! People so inclined can join these other advocacy groups.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonK
    I think that IMBA should not involve itself in environmental issues. Primarily IMBA should be a mountain biking advocacy organization. If it is not directly involved with allowing or preserving access for mountain bikers then IMBA should not have a position on an issue.

    IMBA should be aware that it's members have varied stances on ALL issues not directly connected to the reason they joined IMBA. That one issue is mountain biking advocacy.

    There are plenty of other single issue organizations. I even believe there is even one specifically addressing Wilderness! People so inclined can join these other advocacy groups.

    I think to some degree, many environmental issues directly affect the long term future of Mountain Biking. If we don't have clean air and water, we won't be able to enjoy the outdoors. If we don't preserve open spaces, we won't have anywhere to build trails.

    It's important to let other environmentalists know that many MTBers care about the environment, and aren't just out there fulfilling a Mtn Dew / X-games adrenaline rush.

    Lots of Wilderness areas are sensitive, easily damaged places where restrictions on use are appropriate. I beleive that these areas should remain closed to bikes, and horses should be excluded, or limited to folks with a handicapped license.

    Other Wilderness areas should be opened to MTB in my opinion. Many remote trails could stand more trail use to help keep the trail clear. If the trail does not see excessive use, and is on a sustainable trail bed, unrestricted, or at least limited MTB access should be allowed.

    IMBA can't ignore these isssues, MTB does not happen in a vacuum. I feel alot more comfortable allying with environmentalists than the Blue Ribbon Coalition.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch
    It's important to let other environmentalists know that many MTBers care about the environment, and aren't just out there fulfilling a Mtn Dew / X-games adrenaline rush.
    Why would you think that environmentalists care if you are a X-gamer or not. They want you and your bicycle out of Wilderness.


    Lots of Wilderness areas are sensitive, easily damaged places where restrictions on use are appropriate. I beleive that these areas should remain closed to bikes, and horses should be excluded, or limited to folks with a handicapped license.
    If an area is that sensitive then ALL access should be restricted. On the other hand I find it hard to believe that many areas are that sensitive.


    Other Wilderness areas should be opened to MTB in my opinion. Many remote trails could stand more trail use to help keep the trail clear. If the trail does not see excessive use, and is on a sustainable trail bed, unrestricted, or at least limited MTB access should be allowed.
    Who gets to define excessive? If someone other than I gets to enjoy it then is it excessive? That seems to be the opinion of many of the pro-Wilderness environmentalists.

  5. #5
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    I don't think IMBA should go all-out on action alerts for general environmental issues. I do think it should issue comments on certain pieces of legislation/policy and suggest its members do the same. It's always a good thing to comment on legislation, no matter the issue.

    Drilling in ANWR is a pretty remote issue for a lot of people. IMO, supplies aren't so dire as to require us to go through all the effort to get it. When supplies really start to dwindle, then it ought to be worth the expense and actually might make a difference. Allowing drilling access in wildlife refuges does not bode well for resource conservation on other pieces of property, so your favorite trails could be subjected to being closed for resource extraction because the current administration decided that land use mandates for federally-managed property are something that they can change at-will.

    As far as the issues relating to the ESA rewrite, the main thrust behind that would be to remove a MAJOR impediment to commercial development of property. While many mtb trails may or may not approach endangered plants or habitats used by endangered animals, those types of areas do exist in many pieces of public property and the existence of the trails in those cases owes a lot to the current ESA. Changing the ESA probably won't result in direct trail closures due to the selling of property, however, new public lands that could potentially contain mtb trails (or not, but isn't public land in general a good thing?) will be more difficult for agencies to aquire.

    Making nice with the pro-wilderness groups may just get them to support the alternative land protection designations that IMBA has been promoting a lot lately. It seems that support is growing for them largely due to the fact that IMBA clubs and environmental groups have been able to find common ground in land preservation and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

    Some areas ARE very sensitive and use should most certainly be limited or prohibited. In some areas, bikes are not appropriate. In some areas, they are. It should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, not blanket restrictions. Maybe one day it'll change, but for now, we need to make nice with the enviros to show them that we do belong in some wilderness areas...because it will take their support to get the interpretation of the laws changed.

  6. #6
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    I agree that IMBA should not pursue an environmental agenda one way or the other. Unless environmentalists are trying to restrict or close mountain bike trails.

    According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), ANWR would produce 1 million barrels a day, everyday, for over 30 years. This would replace roughly 30 years of Saudi Arabian oil imports. The problem with waiting until supplies dwindle is two fold. There is a certain amount of ramp up time before oil can actually be produced. They still have to prospect and develop the infrastructure necessary to get the oil to market. This could take years. Secondly, the people who object to drilling in ANWR now will still object after supplies dwindle and you would allow drilling in ANWR.

    The Endangered Species Act is a non sequitur. Opening a small portion of ANWR to oil prospecting will not require changing the ESA. All of the rest of the scare tactics related to the ESA and mountain bike trails is irelevent to the ANWR debate.

  7. #7
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    There is a separate piece of legislation floating around congress right now that would involve a MAJOR overhaul of the endangered species act. It is not related to the ANWR drilling. Basically, it would eliminate the critical habitat clause and require heavy government payouts to developers if an endangered species is found on a piece of property. It would also require a very short time period required for the government to conduct the necessary plant and animal surveys. Having worked for the government doing endangered species act wildlife surveys on GOVERNMENT PROPERTY, I can tell you that the government agencies this falls under do not have the manpower or the money to follow through on this. As far as I can tell, the new legislation proposes no source of funding for all these new payouts. How does this affect mtb trails? I'm sure that if this passes, at least some of the money will come from recreation coffers.

    The major issue of ANWR as it relates to IMBA is that in order to drill in ANWR, the federal government has to change the land use statute for the property. Currently, it is a wildlife refuge, a land management designation that has certain restrictions on what can and cannot be done because the land is there as a REFUGE for WILDLIFE away from major human activities. If we let the government change the definition of a wildlife refuge, then no land management designation is safe, and no matter how a parcel is designated now, there will be no security in the future. IMO, I can only see wilderness advocates making a stronger push towards wilderness designations to make it increasingly difficult for the government to change use designations on particular parcels of land.

    Like I said, I don't think IMBA should invest major capital into environmental issues not directly related to mountain biking. I do believe, however, that ALL environmental issues at least indirectly impact mountain biking, and IMBA should take a position and make that position known. The problem with a lot of nonprofits is that they focus so strongly on a single issue that they lose sight of the big picture. Stay true to the core...mountain bike trail access...but don't forget (or in some cases, keep in mind) that the future of mountain biking rests on the preservation of ALL public lands, whether there are mtb trails there or not.

  8. #8
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    No. You have to pick your fights to be successful so they should stick to the bike and trail related fights.

  9. #9
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    sounds fishy

    Like I said, I don't think IMBA should invest major capital into environmental issues not directly related to mountain biking. I do believe, however, that ALL environmental issues at least indirectly impact mountain biking, and IMBA should take a position and make that position known. The problem with a lot of nonprofits is that they focus so strongly on a single issue that they lose sight of the big picture. Stay true to the core...mountain bike trail access...but don't forget (or in some cases, keep in mind) that the future of mountain biking rests on the preservation of ALL public lands, whether there are mtb trails there or not.

    Exactly, but this is a rather thin line to tread. How do know that in two years the decision to drill in ANWR won't somehow affect another region that holds hundreds of miles of trails open to bikes? How do you know that deciding to leave the ANWR question alone will not come back to bite you in the a$$? IMBA does need to show it has some teeth and is willing to put up a fight over environmental issues. I'm certain they know just how much effort they can expend without jeopardising other, more immediate access concerns.

  10. #10
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    If IMBA is going to campaign for mountain bike access in ANWR or campaign for mountain bike access in all Wilderness areas using ANWR as an example then by all means put up a fight.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonK
    I think that IMBA should not involve itself in environmental issues. Primarily IMBA should be a mountain biking advocacy organization. If it is not directly involved with allowing or preserving access for mountain bikers then IMBA should not have a position on an issue.

    IMBA should be aware that it's members have varied stances on ALL issues not directly connected to the reason they joined IMBA. That one issue is mountain biking advocacy.

    There are plenty of other single issue organizations. I even believe there is even one specifically addressing Wilderness! People so inclined can join these other advocacy groups.
    I think this is dead on. IMBA should focus on access.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    I think this is dead on. IMBA should focus on access.
    Amen. I give my $$ to IMBA because I want to ride off road. Period. There are plenty of other enviro organizations that I can choose to give my money to if I want to be involved with pure environmental advocacy.

    IMBA has a responsibility to it's membership. All members agree that we should have a united front for Mountain Bike Access. Not all members agree about environmental concerns. Keep it simple and directly related to mountain bikes.
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  13. #13
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    I agree, it is all about access. Anything else takes away from the main point and may weaken it or destroy it. I always wondered why fires can ravage wilderness areas after years of fire supression but we can't take our bikes in on existing trails???? One summer thunderstorm does more damage than all the mountain bikes you could cram in on a trail anyways.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by richwolf
    I agree, it is all about access. Anything else takes away from the main point and may weaken it or destroy it. I always wondered why fires can ravage wilderness areas after years of fire supression but we can't take our bikes in on existing trails???? One summer thunderstorm does more damage than all the mountain bikes you could cram in on a trail anyways.
    How about leasing public lands for cattle to run about, eat precious vegetation, and sh1t everywhere... but i can't ride my bike on those same lands!
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

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