2nd Annual Summit Recap: Oregon Mountain Biking Coalition

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The power of a unified voice can’t be overstated.
— Cailin O’Brien Feeney, Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation

The second annual Oregon Mountain Biking Coalition (OMBC) Summit was a huge success! After collaboratively identifying the need and a year of strategic planning, the OMBC founding steering committee held the second annual OMBC Summit in Bend, OR last weekend. Fourteen mountain bike organizations from across the state were in attendance; as well as regional land managers, the newly appointed Director of Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, and Senator Jeff Merkley’s office. The food was good, the conversation was lively, the smiles were abundant and the passion was palpable.

The day was split into four primary topics, summarized below. For all who attended, a huge THANK YOU for making it. For those who could not attend, we still want you on the team and hope to see you at the next event!

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Land manager panel

We started the day off with a great panel that included representatives from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Forestry and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The following are the key takeaways:

  • OMBC can help land managers communicate the need for more MTB trails on public lands

  • Land managers would like the OMBC to help educate them on the desired user experience

  • If trail projects are “shovel-ready” and have demonstrated community support, they will rise to the top for funding

  • Land managers are looking for new and creative ways to invest federal dollars to get the biggest bang for the buck and a good strategy could be to have OMBC help facilitate maintenance efforts

  • Land managers would like the OMBC to help prioritize and elevate priority projects statewide

I see a tremendous amount of opportunity to be gained by disparate MTB groups being housed under one umbrella.
— Zach Jarrett, Region 6 Trails Program Manager, US Forest Service
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Advocacy matters

We gave an overview of what advocacy could look like for OMBC. Our focus for the coming year will be on a lobby day at the capitol to introduce ourselves and what we care about to our legislators. Save the date for February 27, 2019! OMBC will facilitate the day and, so, for those of you who have never talked directly with your legislators, don’t be intimidated. We will walk you through it by providing:

  • Arranging meeting times and locations

  • Names and contact information for your representatives

  • Talking points for you to focus on if and when you speak with him/her

  • Coaching on how to talk with him/her

  • The support of dozens of other mountain bikers

Key takeaways:

  • A great suggestion was made to invite your legislator(s) to go for a bike ride when they aren’t in session

  • Or better yet, invite them out to a local trailwork day and demonstrate the power of your organization, volunteerism and what mountain biking can do for communities.

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Governance structure

This was the detailed, wonky part of the day and attendees blew our socks off - asking great questions, challenging assumptions and making solid revision suggestions. The Governance Guide is the central structure for OMBC that will decide who serves on the steering committee, how long they serve, who becomes a member, how decisions are made, and much more. The guide is for all of us and we will incorporate the great feedback that we received to make it even better.

Key takeaways:

  • The OMBC steering committee was formed to represent us all and we want your feedback/involvement

  • The steering committee is made up of representatives from different mountain bike groups and will change every two years (on alternating years)

  • The steering committee will help to fundraise and pursue OMBC’s priority projects/initiatives

  • OMBC will be made up of member organizations who are focused on mountain bike trails

  • Membership is free, OMBC only asks time and engagement from each member organization

  • The steering committee can be run by a Network Coordinator (once funding is secured)

  • The steering committee can form subcommittees and/or advisory committees to help with specific projects/initiatives

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OMBC next steps

We have a lot of great work ahead of us. After last Saturday, I think that we all agree that OMBC is needed and the time is right for this work!

Our immediate next steps include:

  • Establishing our online presence and on-going communications (website, newsletter)

  • Organizing lobby day for February, 2019

  • Establishing a member structure and asking you all to join

  • Fundraising to support and expand our work

  • Continued liaison work with land managers, Oregon Trails Coalition, and other partners

Depending on capacity and funding, other potential next steps could include:

  • Other advocacy efforts

    • Bike Tax

    • Supporting land conservation bills that preserve mountain bike access

    • Solidifying trail access in the face of land designation changes

    • Collaborating with other recreation groups to find more funding for trails

  • Create a platform for sharing “best practices” across members organizations such as how to track volunteer hours, how to get insurance coverage, etc.

  • Develop education pieces for OMBC member groups on:

    • Obtaining a Special Use Permit

    • Deconstructing the 2016 outfitter/guide policy for the Forest Service (fees can be waived in lieu of trail work)

    • Health benefits of having trails near communities

    • Economic benefits of trails

Thank you

We have a lot of great work ahead of us. We are honored to be a part of getting OMBC going and we hope that all of you will continue to support this effort and join us for what we think will be a great ride.

A special thank you goes out to the founding steering committee for pushing this concept forward over the past year, as well as the organizations that have supported the OMBC financially.

Gabriel Tiller