This week, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and the National Park Service (NPS) announced twelve partnership trail maintenance projects for 2006 including three pilot programs to be carried out in Big Bend National Park (Texas), Fort Dupont National Park (Washington, DC) and Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio).
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 favourable, we'll move forward with a rule-making procedure that would open the way for mountain biking in non-Wilderness areas."
Jeff Renfrow, a local mountain bike advocate with the Big Bend Trails Alliance, is excited about the prospect of working with park staff and IMBA. "We are especially honoured to be a part of a process that we hope will lead to the creation of additional mountain biking opportunities in the national park system," says Renfrow.
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. "National Capital Parks-East is very excited about the opportunity to work with IMBA and its local affiliate, the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts," says Superintendent Gayle Hazelwood. "The assessment of the hiking and biking trails within the Fort Circle Parks will greatly assist our park with the goals of improving both trail sustainability and visitor access and enjoyment of the trail system."
Dan Hudson, for Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), added: "The Fort Circle Trail is a great resource for trail users on the east side of town. There are segments where erosion has become a concern. MORE is excited to help repair and protect this valuable resource."
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio): "We are keenly interested in examining mountain bicycling as a possible component of our next trail management plan revision," says Bill Carroll, deputy superintendent at Cuyahoga.
While the timetable for establishing a pilot mountain bicycling program in Ohio 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 trail has the potential to become one of the best in Ohio and a destination for the entire region," says Mike Farley, of the IMBA-affiliated Cleveland Area Mountain Bicycling Association.