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Mountain Biking for Sustainability

Like many locations, Vermont faces two significant threats:  climate change and the development of wild and open spaces.  As the length and intensity of winters diminish, the state sees that the time is now to highlight it’s year round benefits.  Every year more of the state’s most beautiful locations are developed.  Vermont and other locations facing these threats must find innovative solutions to access nature and enjoy an uninterrupted outdoor experience.

VMBA Mission

The Vermont Mountain Bike Association works on these issues through its dedication to building and maintaining high-quality mountain bike trails.  VMBA serves as the statewide voice of riding and advocates for sustainably constructed trail resources.  Not only does it help to protect and conserve Vermont’s natural heritage, but it is reconstituting what it means to be a working landscape.  A thriving mountain bike trail system will help to reinvigorate Vermont’s outdoor tourism industry, promote healthy lifestyles, protect the natural environment, and provide a model for other state’s to follow.

“Vermont has long been revered as an outdoors destination for hiking and snowsports; attracting millions of visitors to its beautiful and invigorating landscape annually,” says Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Megan Smith. “Presenting Vermont as the ideal mountain biking destination that it is, is not only a natural step in the movement toward increasing healthy, outdoor recreation in the Green Mountain State, but it also has great potential to drive our tourism economy.“

In addition to working with individual mountain bikers, VMBA partners with a wide variety of public and private organizations.

Current Partners include:

  • Lintilhac Foundation
  • The State’s Tourism Department
  • Darn Tough Socks
  • Vermont Peanut Butter Company
  • Long Trial Brewery

Successes to date:

-       23 regional chapters working together under VMBA’s leadership

-       Maintains over 800 miles of single-track

-       Built over 30 miles of new trails in 2012

-       Incorporated over 12,000 hours of volunteer and community involvement in 2012

Challenges to date:

-       Vermont is within a day’s drive of 80 million people.  The demand on trails resources continues to escalate

-       Due to budget cuts at the federal level, there are no Recreation Trails Program funds being allocated in 2013. This pool of funds supports numerous trail projects each year (six in 2012)

-       70% of Vermont’s trails are on private land, which requires landowners to remain confident that these partnerships are good for the community

-       Developing the VMBA Trail Grant will enable the association to build and more importantly, maintain fantastic trails


Call to Action

VMBA will be hosting its first ever membership campaign in 2013.  The new membership program will allow VMBA to connect with individual riders and better engage their goals as a riding community. Expanding membership will also provide opportunities for partner businesses to connect with a passionate group of people that share a strong connection to place and an allegiance to companies that demonstrate a commitment to environmentally sensitive practices.

Individual chapters of the organization take part in numerous projects each year. There will likely be 20+ projects worked on this riding season.  Businesses who contribute to VMBA will help enable the organization to offer more robust trail grants for these chapters while also allowing VMBA to better track and provide guidance for building the most sustainable trails possible.

A more sustainable mountain biking future 

VMBA’s 23 independent chapters throughout the state do a fantastic job building and maintaining trails. As the number of chapters grow and relationships with landowners continue to develop, trail networks will hopefully merge into larger contiguous trail networks. It is possible for these networks to link hundreds of miles of trails. Within five years, riders will be able to reach Vermont’s northern boarder from Massachusetts spending almost 100% of their journey on dirt track.

Goals & Strategies for 2013

- 1000 participating members starting at $30 for VMBA chapter members.

- Raising $25,000 to fund the VMBA Trails Grant

- VMBA will expand relationships with state agencies

- The Department of Forests Parks & Recreation recognizes VMBA as the corridor manager. – A new relationship with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife is underway that will establish VMBA as an official conservation partner

VMBA strives to provide healthy, family friendly, and sustainable mountain biking opportunities. As a unified community, Vermont is host to the best mountain biking culture in the country.

Contact Tom Stuessy, Executive Director, tom@vmba.org, 802.342.7568 with any further questions.

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