~~~~LEE3: My best summary of this rant is to say that HMBA is not as large as it appears. Please don't think that Paul has some powerful network of people helping him work his way through the political arena.!~~~~
Just a thought....
Maybe the HMBA should have thought about that before declaring themselves the state wide representative of mountain biking and state wide organizer of the mountain biking community in Indiana in order to chase down federal funds to spend on public property.
I don't know, just seems more logical to be organized and capable of a such a task before announcing such things. Not the other way around.
The only place the HMBA seems to be really organized is Brown County and Indy. A few other parks managing to get some money weren't decided on by the HMBA, but by the source of the money who dictated which parks were to get the money. Not sure you can really contribute the success of these few other trail systems to any real effort by the HMBA other then to do the minimum that was asked of them by the source of the money and then disappear.
It's a big responsibility taking on a state wide position. One of the primary goals should be to get HMBA divisions all over the state. This doesn't seem to high a priority and so the current people in charge just end up spread thin. The cart was put before the horse!
Looks like it is time for some history. HMBA did not just one day declare themselves the State Wide Group. In the late 90's mountain bikers in Indiana and across the country were losing access. In Indianapolis, Fort Harrison became a State Park and State Parks prohibited mountain biking. Indy Parks decided that they would no longer allow mountain biking at Southwestway and Eagle Creek Parks, and a developer bulldozed the trails north of 96th
The local Cycling Club, Indy Spoke Breakers, realized that unless there was a local advocacy group, there would be few places to ride. Meanwhile a small group of advocates (Mike Hufhand, Jonathan Juilerate, and Rich Ries to name a few) had their sights set on State Parks and State Forests. In their discussions with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), it was the IDNR who said they wanted one state wide group to deal with. This was modeled on how they worked with established groups like the Indiana Trail Riders or the Hoosier Hiker Council, which required a mountain bike group to be a 501 (C) (3) and to have insurance coverage for trail construction.
There was a lot of discussion around the State. There were other mtb groups, the largest being the Northern Indiana Mountain Bike Association (NIMBA). Becoming a 501 (c) (3) was a large hurdle that no other group appeared be ready to take on. Additionally the IDNR headquarters is in Indianapolis. With the limited possibilities for mountain biking in Indianapolis, the mtb advocates in Indianapolis were willing to take on the additional work required to work with the IDNR.
So the Indy Spoke Breakers, turned into the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, It also became a 501 (c) (3).
Around 2003 the IDNR director decided to give mountain bikers a shot and to the suprize of many who thought we would have to start with State Forests, HMBA was given access to Versailles State Park and Brown County State Park. Riders in Indianapolis were hunger for trails and were willing to drive over an hour to these properties to partner with local mountain bikers. At Brown County, North Tower, North Gate, Aynes, HP were built. At Versailles, Creekside, Turtle, Centerloop and part of Grand View were build.
In 2005 HMBA submitted an RTP application for BCSP. We receive the $150,000 grant for trails at BCSP. This grant, combined with a lot of volunteer support built Schooner, Walnut, LimeKilne, and Pine Loop. The IDNR was impressed and other Park Managers started asking for trails.
Somewhere along the way, NIMBA worked with the Park Manager at Potato Creek State Park. I am not sure if the Park manager new that NIMBA and HMBA were not the same group, but since NIMBA and HMBA where both IMBA members, HMBA worked to support NIMBA. I did go up as they were building trails and provided some guidance, but since then HMBA has been very hands off. NIMBA, like HMBA has taken advantage of IMBA’s support and training and had developed the trail building skills needed to develop trails in there area.
In 2008, the IDNR’s division of Outdoor Rec got a $19million State Trail Grant. The gave $250k to HMBA. We met with the Director of State Parks and HMBA and State Parks decided to build trails at Versailles, O’Bannon, and Harmonie State Parks. During the construction of these trails, Myself and Alex Stewart spend a great deal of time at those locations. I host IMBA trail care crews at both Harmonie and O’Bannon. Despite Harmonie being 4 hours from my house, I made a dozen trips to Harmonie and even more to O’Bannon. Alex and I lead many volunteer work days and put in a great deal of effort working to develop a local group to support those trails.
In Evansville a group of local mountain bikers revived the Evansville Mountain Bike Associaton (EMBA) name and started to organized. In the mean time, HMBA was working with IMBA to better support mountain biking in the State. IMBA roled out the IMBA Chapter Program, which HMBA joined. IMBA hired a regional Director (Andy Williamson), who did make trips down to Evansville.
The EMBA decided not to become an IMBA Chapter. And based on their Facebook postings are really more of a club than an Advocacy group. Clubs are fun. They don’t have the restrictions of 501 (c) (3), which means they can serve their members instead of the general public. Rather than dealing with grants and public meetings, and insurance, and the long trail approval process required on IDNR property, they can focus on riding and racing and events. But without being affiliated with HMBA or IMBA, this prevents them from taking a leadership role on IDNR property. Someone posted that EMBA could likely organize a larger ride than HMBA. I agree. But they can not build trails on IDNR property and HMBA can.
Being a State Wide group has been a challenge for HMBA. A small group of us have been taking vacation days, spending long weeks ends and giving up a lot of riding to support trails that are hours away from our homes. I took a vacation day today support HMBA efforts. And in reward, I get to stay up late typing on the forum.
One thing I would suggest is that as an IMBA divisions, chapter, whatever it's called... IMBA should be there to assist in these matters. Where are they? It's one thing to suggest every region should be getting organized, it's another to expect it to happen without guidance. All you end up with is years of mistakes, wasted effort and still no organization. Isn't that the whole point of joining a bigger organization who has been there done that? To help speed up the organizing and avoid the pitfalls.
I have no doubts that around here, getting organized is going to be an undertaking. It would be nice to know what was done in other smaller cities. IMBA should have plenty of experience by now taking leadership over these issues in smaller cities. Evansville isn't small by any means, but if you look at any particular activity like climbing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, it feels very small when it comes to dedicated participants.
You clearly have not spent any time trying to understand the history of Mountain Bike Advocacy or what groups like IMBA or HMBA are currently doing. HMBA and IMBA have invested time into the Evansville area, as we have spent time in many areas of the state. At the end of the day, the local groups have to decide if they want to be a part of what HMBA and IMBA are doing.
The IMBA Chapter Program is not intended for State Wide Groups. The long term goal in Indiana is for HMBA to become a Central Indiana focused group, with IMBA chapters around the State. The IDNR relationship would shift to IMBA to oversee and ensure each local Chapter is working within the guidelines of the IDNR. As we transition, local groups and choose to not be part of HMBA and IMBA and focus on local parks, they can become IMBA Chapters and work with Andy to develop trails on IDNR property, or they can work under HMBA’s umbrella until they can form their own local chapter.
HMBA and IMBA are working on a plan to have paid staff dedicated to Indiana. Ideally in a few years we would have 2 or 3 paid staff who can travel the State supporting IMBA chapters.
I have discussed this at HMBA annual meetings over the past few years. This information is not a secret, but riders wanting to have an influence on mountain biking need to take action. Attend meetings, travel to work days at other parks, go to the IMBA site read the information provided, attend IMBA trail care events (they have whole sessions of club development). And for heaven’s sake, join IMBA. If you don’t like the big mean HMBA, then just join IMBA. They send out emails, and newsletters with information on what is going on.
HMBA has accomplished a great deal over the past 10 years. As with any volunteer group, we are not perfect or able to do everything we would like, but if we did not step up to be the State Wide group to work with the IDNR, there would be no Brown County, Versailles, O’Bannon, Potato Creek, Harmonie, or Fort Ben. As with any successful group, HMBA has be willing to change and adapt to deal with our successes. HMBA is doing this, but at the end of the day, those areas where local riders get organized and are willing to give up some time in the saddle to do their part will enjoy more trails access than those who wait for others to do it for them.