The International Mountain Bike Association recently announced two new programs which should significantly boost national trail building efforts. The first is a new series of educational seminars called Trail Labs. These classroom and field-based sessions will edify local trail advocates on the necessary steps required to develop their own sustainable trail network.
Trail Lab participants will receive information regarding trail planning, design, construction methods, required resources, and how to navigate the challenges associated with land access. Attendees will be presented with powerful examples of how other towns and cities have leveraged their trails for the betterment of their communities.
The three-day Trail Lab events will be held in Bentonville, Arkansas, with the first of three starting on June 20th. If Bentonville has yet to pop up on your mountain bike bucket list, it will soon enough. The latest venue in the Epic Rides race schedule, the town of Bentonville is benefitting from their extensive trail system. Other towns like Prescott, Arizona, are also on the Epic Rides circuit and have seen positive returns as a result of incorporating IMBA’s trail building resources into the community. Dates for the two other Trail Lab sessions will be announced soon with additional locations made available across the country in 2019.
In support of the Trail Lab initiative, IMBA also announced their new Trail Accelerator grant fund. Partnering with the Walton Family Foundation, the new trail funding program has potential to become the largest in IMBA’s history with a dollar-matching donation limit of $250,000.
According to Tom Walton, the foundation’s committee chairman, “Northwest Arkansas is witnessing the transformative power of trail building—from developing active neighborhoods to increasing tourism and strengthening the local economy, our cities can serve as trail labs of what’s possible for communities in the American Heartland.”
A competitive grant, those awarded funds for trail building projects will receive support beyond raw dollars. IMBA’s team of experts will ensure recipients receive assistance with the actual buildout, as well as support with future planning strategies. The two programs have the power to support 100 trail projects nationwide.
More information regarding Trail Lab dates and Trail Accelerator funding opportunities will be available on the IMBA website soon.