Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

April 2018


Partnership, Grants to Boost Mountain Bike Trail Development

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By Deborah L. Vence

A new partnership between the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and the Walton Family Foundation will bring more trails to communities across the United States—through new Trail Labs educational programming and matching Trail Accelerator grants.

IMBA, with support from Visit Bentonville and the foundation, will host three Trail Labs in Bentonville, Ark., where attendees can learn about what it takes to create a model trail community. The first Trail Lab will be held June 20 to 22, 2018. Following the three labs hosted in Bentonville, future Trail Labs will branch out to other communities across the country in 2019.

"We know mountain biking changes lives, but often, a trail project needs an initial boost to get started. We're excited to highlight the model trail communities of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas and the lessons learned there," said Dave Wiens, IMBA's executive director. "This partnership will deliver communities the tools they need to create their own model trail vision. Together, we can accelerate so many trail projects, bringing us closer to our vision of everyone having a place to ride a mountain bike."

Best practices in one of Northwest Arkansas' IMBA Ride Centers will be highlighted through classroom-style workshops and field-based tours in key Oz Trails locations. Alongside Trail Labs, IMBA's new Trail Accelerator grant fund will support communities with visions for model trails. "The grant will be matched dollar for dollar by the Walton Family Foundation, and is poised to become IMBA's largest trail fund in history."

The Trail Accelerator grant fund will be a competitive grant offering for communities that are in need of more trails to get started with building better places to ride. Award recipients will receive professional trail planning and consultation services and funding to launch their trail development efforts, which often can help leverage more interest and investment for community trail projects. Also, IMBA will work with funders to seed the nationwide grant fund. In addition, matching grant money from the Walton Family Foundation will be used for projects in America's Heartland, up to $250,000.

"Northwest Arkansas is witnessing the transformative power of trail building—from developing active neighborhoods to increasing tourism and strengthening the local economy," stated Tom Walton, chair of the Walton Family Foundation Home Region Committee. "Our cities can serve as trail labs of what's possible for communities in the American Heartland."

IMBA staff and local partners will work together to guide Trail Lab participants "through the recipe for a model community trail system: planning, design, building, activation, promotion and measuring success. Land managers, tourism professionals, industry partners, community officials and local trail organizations in attendance will identify the next steps needed to bring more trails to their own backyards," according to information from a press release.


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