Our SORBA Executive Director Philip joined mountain bike advocates from across the country, members of IMBA’s Government Relations Team, and IMBA staff in DC for three days in late September to help lobby for mountain biking on the national level. Representatives from Maryland, Virginia, North Dakota, Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and of course the Southeast came together to show a unified voice on key issues.
One of the items the group was advocating for is the BOLT Act. This act will help designate 10 long-distance trails that currently exist as well as indicate areas in which 10 additional trails could be built. The ability to connect long sections of trail that are accessible by bike will encourage interconnectivity by singletrack as well as new ways to explore the outdoors. We encourage you to reach out to your representatives to help support the BOLT Act and create this designation.
We also took this time to emphasize the importance of funding our national land managers, in particular the USDA Forest Service. For the number of SORBA chapters that work with the Forest Service, capacity is a continuous issue. Western fires draw employees from eastern duties to cover an already thin workforce. We continue to push the USDA Forest Service to fill all positions to help reduce the backlog of work that needs to get done in order to ride the trails we all love!
In addition to meeting with members of Congress, Philip joined representatives from the Maah Da Hey Trail and Orogenesis to meet with national level representatives at the USDA Forest Service. We spoke about key issues for the Mah Da Hey Trail and a section of wilderness which the trail currently travels. We also took a moment to share the concerns of Forest Service capacity in the Southeast and share some of the exceptional wins throughout the region.
When asked about the trip Philip said “It was a really interesting and educational experience. My expectation for the trip was to sit an learn about how these meetings are held. It’s all relationship-building, and it is so great to see how other professionals handle themselves in professional meetings. There are some incredibly passionate and inspirational advocates out there, and I am happy to be a part of the movement. I am interested to see how we can take what was learned here and work on the state and local level to increase the awareness of mountain biking in the Southeast.”
A big thanks goes to IMBA for organizing the Fly-In and providing guidance along the way. And thank you to the Outdoor Alliance for being our home base to help us organize our day each morning on the hill We look forward to participating in more events like this in the future and pushing our initiative at the national level.