IMBA Receives Impactful Grant from Vista Outdoor Foundation
Media contact: Eleanor Blick
IMBA Director of Communications
(Boulder, Colo., October 24, 2021) — The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has awarded its fifth round of Trail Accelerator grants to eight recipients in seven states, bringing the total to 33 awards nationwide since the grant program began. This round of grants will distribute more than $100,000 to community trail planning and design projects, which will become at least $200,000 with participant matching funds. Awards were given to projects in Ventura, California; Cuchara, Colorado; Chillicothe, Ohio; Bethel, Maine; Waynesboro, Virginia; Dodgeville, Wisconsin; Ashland, Wisconsin; and Lewisburg, West Virginia.
"Trails take time. Years when mountain bikers are lucky, and often decades to get from dream to dirt. Our Trail Accelerator grants provide a professional trail plan that significantly accelerates the pace of the project. Just four years in, we're seeing newly completed trails benefiting local communities in North Carolina and Wisconsin, with swift progress on dozens more trails and counting. We're looking forward to partnering with these eight new communities on their vision for more trails close to home," said David Wiens, IMBA Executive Director.
IMBA’s Trail Accelerator grant is a competitive grant offering for communities who need support to realize their vision of transformational trail systems. A professionally planned sustainable trail system can serve as a model and as inspiration for an entire mountain biking region. Awardees provide matching funds and receive professional trail planning and consultation services from IMBA Trail Solutions to launch trail development efforts, which can help leverage more interest and investment for community trail projects. Past IMBA Trail Accelerator grants have leveraged $7.85 million for trails and counting. Projects must show strong partnerships between local leaders, government entities, land managers, property owners, community groups, and IMBA Local partners. The next grant cycle will open in 2022, and IMBA welcomes communities to apply through its website.
With the leadership and vision of Tom and Steuart Walton, IMBA corporate partners and thousands of IMBA individuals that make generous donations each year, Trail Accelerator Grants make the difference for communities. Thank you to all!
2021 Trail Accelerator Grant Communities:
Ventura, California — Mariano Rancho Preserve: $7,500 grant
The Ventura Land Trust aims to create a robust trail system paired with bike optimized features on a 1,645-acre nature preserve. This effort will bring public trails to an area that has thousands of residents who could access them from their front doors, including a neighborhood that has been historically disadvantaged. The plan has great potential to introduce many residents to the joy of trails while providing a practice area for local NICA racers, who currently have to drive to other cities to practice. The Mariano Rancho Preserve has been privately held since the Spanish land grants, so formally opening it to the public with high-quality mountain bike amenities will be a significant addition to the community.
Cuchara, Colorado — Cuchara Mountain Park/USFS Trails: $15,000 grant
The Cuchara Foundation raised money for Huerfano County to purchase a 47-acre park, to be used as an environmentally friendly destination for year-round recreation, education, and cultural programs. In partnership with many local and regional groups including the county Youth Conservation Corps, the foundation’s vision includes several levels of skills areas and a main trail through the park. In addition, the parcel also joins National Forest land, where a strong U.S. Forest Service relationship exists and may allow for extension of the trails for more backcountry riding experiences. Since Huerfano County could really use a boost in economic drivers, tourism, and healthy outdoor opportunities for local residents, these trail amenities will play a vital role in the community’s well-being. The Cuchara Foundation is already looking ahead to assist local schools in designing after-school programs and camps to get kids outdoors.
Bethel, Maine — Main Street to the Mountains: $10,000 grant
Inland Woods + Trails and a host of community partners want to add trails to the Bethel Community Forest and the Bingham Forest, with the end goal of a 30 to 40-mile diverse trail system close to town, which includes three schools. At the same time, the increase in trails will help Bethel leverage its current winter tourism into a recreation-based economic driver year-round, while protecting and enhancing the wild, natural beauty of the area. Although Oxford County is blessed with outdoor opportunity, it is still one of the least healthy counties in Maine, so the trails will offer a vital avenue to help local residents improve their physical and mental health. Once the trail system is under way, two local youth riding programs will enjoy better access and sustainability to bolster their efforts.
Chillicothe, Ohio — Ross County MTB Master Plan: $15,000 grant
Chillicothe Trails, along with a broad slate of local partners, looks to assess their county’s public lands with the goal of adding as much as 50 miles of destination-quality trails, plus a pump track and skills park. Ross County is blessed with many acres of publicly accessible land, so creating a cohesive plan for expansion and modification will guide the community’s efforts. A focus will be on beginner/intermediate options for new NICA teams and expansion of expert terrain to attract visitors from a broader region. Since the area faces financial and health challenges, building trails throughout the county can go a long way to getting people outside and stimulating economic growth.
Waynesboro, Virginia — Sunset Park: $15,000 grant
The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation department and other community groups aim to bring the first natural surface trails to Waynesboro, making them directly accessible to residents who currently have to drive to recreate. The vision includes about three miles of trail plus a skills area on a 100-acre site that includes a former landfill. The park will be an excellent asset for the community, especially for young people, since three schools and the Augusta County Boys and Girls Club are within a few minutes’ bike ride. The opportunity to reclaim an old landfill while bringing recreation to many underserved residents makes this project highly valuable for the people of Waynesboro.
Lewisburg, West Virginia — Greenbrier Valley Trails Plan: $15,000 grant
The Greenbrier Valley Hellbenders Youth Mountain Bike Team, as part of the Greenbrier Valley Trail Plan Working Group, wants to increase trail opportunities in the area through a feasibility study to assess several properties including a state forest and two cities. The goal is to complete 50 miles of diverse singletrack, a NICA race venue, and a bike park. These additions will provide much-needed beginner trails in WV’s rugged terrain, and give student athletes the boost in trail mileage they need. Since the state faces many health challenges, bringing outdoor opportunities closer to people will provide an avenue to wellness for all residents. Finally, in addition to providing great mountain biking, the effort will result in a model for active recreation within a commercially managed forest.
Dodgeville, Wisconsin — Spring Valley Tract: $8,000 grant
The Driftless Area is a 24,000-square-mile stretch of the upper Midwest that escaped glaciation in the last ice age, resulting in a steep, rugged landscape cut deeply by cold water streams. It’s excellent terrain for trails and full emersion in nature. The Driftless Area Land Conservancy will work with IMBA’s team of experts to develop plans for a network of trails on a newly acquired tract of 300 acres. An Ambassador Landscape, the Spring Valley Tract trail system will be designed to accommodate a diversity of users – hiking, mountain biking, nature bathing, and silent winter sports. These trails will be a great addition for regional NICA teams, as well as riders and hikers in nearby Madison, which currently has few natural surface trail systems.
Ashland, Wisconsin — MMC Bike Trails: $10,000 grant
The City of Ashland and the Ashland Memorial Medical Center are collaborating on a 70-acre parcel owned by the MMC, where they hope to build up to five miles of trail as well as a pump track or bike park. Since the closest trailhead is currently 30 miles away, this property will provide crucial trails close to home for residents, including several secondary schools, two colleges, and land owned by the Chippewa Nation. For adult and youth programming around the trails, the city has partnered with the North Coast Cycling Association as well as SPARK, an afterschool and summer program that loans bikes to teens as part of its efforts to prevent substance abuse in young people. The addition of these trails will facilitate the creation of a composite NICA team for the area, giving young riders another outlet for healthy recreation and social interaction.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) creates, enhances, and protects great places to ride mountain bikes. It is focused on creating more trails close to home to grow the quantity and quality of mountain bike trail communities across the U.S., so everyone has access to close-to-home rides and iconic backcountry experiences. Since 1988, IMBA has been the worldwide leader in mountain bike advocacy and the only organization focused entirely on trails and access for all types of mountain bikers in all parts of the U.S. IMBA teaches and encourages low-impact riding, grassroots advocacy, sustainable trail design, innovative land management practices, and cooperation among trail user groups. IMBA U.S. is a national network of local groups, individual riders, and passionate volunteers working together for the benefit of the entire community.