Oregon is home to some of the best off-road cycling anywhere. From mountains to deserts, the coast, and rivers — the diversity of terrain is matched only by the amount of the hard-working groups that tend the trails and make sure the best places to ride stay open and accessible.
But up until now, many of those groups focused their work on a local or regional level. With the belief that there’s power in a strong and collective statewide voice for off-road cycling, the new Oregon Mountain Biking Coalition (OMBC) officially launched at a summit in Bend on October 6th. The group is a coalition of 16 different advocacy organizations from throughout the state who represent thousands of riders and trail stewards. Among them are Portland-based Northwest Trail Alliance, the Central Oregon Trail Alliance, and the Salem Area Trail Alliance.
Last weekend in Bend, representatives from 14 member groups came together for a full day of discussions and presentations that laid out priorities and set a course for the coming year. The advocates were joined by regional land managers, the newly appointed Director of Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation (Cailin O’Brien Feeney), and a staffer from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office.
The goal of OMBC is to, “advocate for, create, enhance, and protect mountain biking experiences in the state of Oregon.” “Until now,” reads a press release from the group, “no organization has brought to our state’s policymakers a unified, statewide voice for mountain biking.” Here’s more about the work they plan to do:
Misconceptions persist about the sport of mountain biking. We educate policymakers and the public, bringing to light nationally-recognized research and best practices for building, maintaining, and managing mountain biking destinations.
At the state level, and in special instances, locally and nationally, we advocate for specific outcomes on behalf of our member organizations, accelerating their mission.
We function as a communication hub between our member organizations, sharing information and opportunities while gathering the input that forms our priorities and advocacy positions.
By facilitating the cross-organizational planning, fundraising, permitting, and resource sharing essential for projects beyond the capacity of a single member organization, we enable more ambitious concepts to be considered and delivered.
Get to know more about their work by reading this recap of their recent summit. Notable is a bullet point for next steps that says “bike tax.” I asked NW Trail Alliance VP Matthew Weintraub for more details on their plans and he said they’re working on a strategy to “fix it.” Weintraub points out that since the $15 tax was introduced, 43% of the new bikes sold in Oregon were mountain bikes. The trouble with that is none of the money raised by the tax (about $290,000 through August) goes to dirt trails.
This is an exciting step for mountain biking in Oregon! The people involved in this effort are some of the best and brightest advocates we have and seeing them work together in common cause is very heartening.
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