Front Lines: The Northwest North Carolina MTB Alliance
Jan 26, 2016
Land access agreements, government bureaucracy, legal issues, funding; Are these the things you usually think about just before hitting your favorite trail? If you're like most of us, the answer is probably, “NO”. But for a select group of dedicated individuals, they spend more time thinking about this than actually riding their bikes and they do all this for the love of the sport. This month we continue the series dedicated to association's that work so hard to bring us the trails we all ride, welcome to the Front Lines of North Carolina.
Located in the Appalachian Mountains and foothills of Northwest North Carolina is the Northwest NC MTB Alliance. The Alliance is a relatively new club, becoming an official IMBA-SORBA chapter member in early 2014. They didn't waste any time and hosted their first official work day on January 18th at Zacks Fork. Behind the scenes, meetings were in full swing and in no time at all the Alliance entered a partnership with the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation to help maintain 15 miles of trails at Lake James State Park’s Paddy’s Creek Area in Burke County. They put shovel to dirt and together with contractors and park's staff were able to officially open the trails at Lake James on National Trails Day. They didn't stop there, between maintaining trails at Lake James and neighbouring Zacks Fork they found the time to partner with the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club to complete multiple projects at the Kerr Scott trails. They also hosted an IMBA Instructor Certification Program and Sustainable Trails Workshop put on by the State Trails Program. By the end of their first full year as an IMBA Chapter the Alliance had over 75 members, amassed an impressive 2000 volunteer hours, established very active Facebook and Twitter accounts, and launched a successful website to share club information and current trail conditions with its membership.
|We are looking forward to working with the park staff on keeping the trails in good shape and also planning for the future of mountain biking at Lake James. Paul Stahlschmidt - President Northwest NC MTB Alliance|
|It was great to see a lot of new people working alongside the local regulars, the continued commitment of volunteers has always helped us achieve our goals. Brad Carey - Natural Resource Specialist at W. Kerr Scott|
The Alliance hit the ground running in 2015. With work continuing at Lake James and Zacks fork, they signed a Volunteer Service Agreement with Pisgah National Forest to help resurrect trails in the Wilson Creek area. The Alliance focused their attention on the Upper and Lower segments of Wilson Ridge Trail and in turn, received an IMBA/CLIF Bar Trail Preservation Grant which allowed them to pay for some machine work to improve drainage on some sections of trail. By year's end, they had completed a total of 9 work days and had established themselves as a major advocate for quality mountain biking in the Pisgah Forest. The Alliance continued to work with their friends at the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club and together planned and hosted the inaugural Wilkesboro Trail Fest. The event took place October 23-25 at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir and included camping, night rides, a morning work party, group rides and bike demo's. The Fest proved to be a great success for both clubs, and mountain bikers from across the region showed up to lend a hand and support the trails.
|Our biggest goal is to get more people involved. I think every MTB organization wants this. But being involved doesn't necessarily mean you need to come out and work. Memberships really matter to help provide the clout we need to get stuff done. So join-up! Support your local club or chapter with a membership and it will make a big difference. Paul Stahlschmidt - President Northwest NC MTB Alliance|
The Alliance is heading into 2016 on a high note. Attendance at their annual AGM in November was higher than anyone expected and their final work party of 2015 on Greentown in Pisgah was well supported. The Alliance will continue their work with the Pisgah National Forest. Their main focus is protecting existing mountain biking trails and advocating for increased access to other trails within the network. They plan to continue to work with the trails they already ride and maintain, improving and expanding where they can. Long term, their goal is to increase their presence and focus on bigger opportunities to work with area land managers to help plan, build and maintain sustainable trails. The future looks bright for this young association. In this current political climate the support and dedication of associations like Northwest NC MTB Alliance is more important then ever. Associations need your help and support in advocating for protection of Federal land, the preservation of government funding and continued access to public lands and existing trails. If you haven't done so already, take a minute and support your local association any way you can, a little can go a long way.