Two thousand ten marks the 20th anniversary of the MMBA! Dwain Abramowski and a handful of volunteers started the organization in 1990. It has grown to 2,300 members supporting over 600 miles of trails. I believe these important anniversaries are a good time to step back and celebrate past accomplishments and talk about the opportunities and issues that lie ahead.
Looking back at 2009, the MMBA had one of its best years ever with the opening of new trails at Luton Park in Rockford, Morton-Taylor in Canton, MMCC in Harrison, and Anderson Park Red Loop in Lansing. Work continues on developing new trails at Columbus Park, Harrison Township and Rouge Park.
Inside the MMBA, Ed Berta First Across the Finish Line volunteers were recognized for over 9,000 hours of 2009 trail work at the 2010 Annual Meeting. Outside the MMBA, Mike Moss was recognized as the Metro Parks Volunteer of the Year for his work to launch the Stony Creek Skills Park, and Gary Anderson was recognized with a $5,000 grant to the Poto Chapter for his work developing the Morton-Taylor trail. These awards honor only some of the countless hours MMBA volunteers put in each year to keep our trails open every year.
Looking forward, we begin 2010 in our best financial position ever, with cash on hand of $130,000 including both state and chapter accounts. We have taken a number of actions to improve our financial position, including replacing the printed BRB with more frequent on-line and email updates at an annual savings of over $10,000. We believe it is important to have this financial cushion because of the issues and opportunities facing us in 2010.
Insurance costs have almost doubled this year compared with 2009 reflecting the changing liability landscape. We changed insurance brokers this year because the old insurance broker was unable to continue the policy to insure volunteer trail work. We have also removed teeter totters from all MMBA-maintained trails because we could not insure these features at any price.
DNR funding has been resolved with the recent passage of the Recreation Passport Bill that will take effect on October 1, 2010. Under the bill, motorists will have the option to pay a voluntary $10 fee when they renew their vehicle plate registration. We are hopeful that this is a positive step in solving the long-standing DNR funding problem, but we really won’t know how this affects us until late next year. Click here to view the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment Recreation Passport FAQs.
The Equestrian “Right to Ride” Bill has passed both the State House and Senate after a reconciliation process to narrow the focus of the bill. In response, the MMBA board developed a policy of equal access and rights to public lands with respect to scientific and environmental standards, volunteer contributions, and user group compatibility. It is important to recognize that there are incompatibilities between mountain bikers and equestrians in some trail systems. In support of that policy, advocacy efforts are directed toward finding quick resolution to trail user disputes, a full time voice in Lansing, and the formation of an advocacy team.
An MMBA committee to form the Michigan Interscholastic Cycling Association (MICA) has been started under the leadership of Steve Kinley. Their vision is to bring mountain biking to middle and high schools in Michigan. They are starting with a few schools this fall and will roll out an aggressive program in 2011. This is a terrific opportunity to bring the sport to a whole new group of students and parents in the state.
It is sometimes said that there is little tangible benefit for membership in the MMBA. While it is true that there is no pair of socks, some of the notable intangible benefits include coordination of trail building and maintenance for 500 miles of trails, a lobbyist representing our interests in Lansing, the salary of the Executive Director, liability insurance for trailbuilding and events like group rides, and 25% of an individual and family membership returns to the chapter.
Support Michigan mountain bike trails. Join the MMBA.