For sure, Summit Fat Tire Society could use some help |

For sure, Summit Fat Tire Society could use some help

Recently, letters have appeared regarding the practices of Maverick Sports with the Firecracker 50 mountain bike race, calling Maverick’s environmental ethic into question.

One letter also described the Summit Fat Tire Society (SFTS) as an organization that is “losing momentum.”

Jeff Westcott of Maverick has already penned a response from the Maverick Sports point of view. I would like to respond from the SFTS point of view. First, I would like to say the Maverick Sports is definitely the most environmentally aware mountain bike race promoter I know of.

It has been very receptive to input from the SFTS. Many times it has rerouted race courses because of muddy conditions or other considerations.

It places environmental education high on its list of priorities. Although, there is no doubt a mountain bike race – or any other activity for that matter – with hundreds of participants will have impacts, I feel that for the most part, they have been acceptable.

Do things like course markers and litter sometimes slip through the cracks? Sure. With any large event, that is inevitable. What is important is that lessons are learned and efforts are made complete the cleanup as soon as possible and to do better next time.

Next, I would like to address the comment that the SFTS is an organization “losing momentum.” First, I will be the first to admit there is some truth to the statement.

The SFTS, like many small grassroots, nonprofit organizations, is run entirely by volunteers. These volunteers have devoted, in many cases, years of their lives to keeping Summit County a great place to mountain bike.

They have served despite the demands of family, jobs and mortgages. They have served because they love the sport and they care about the land.

As Mr. Westcott said, “20 percent of the people do all the work.”

Actually, it is more like 5 percent. This is common in most small nonprofits, and that is a tragedy. While paying membership dues is important, what is most is important is to understand that you, the paying member, are the Summit Fat Tire Society.

It is important that you get involved. I think it is healthy for new leadership to come along every three to five years and inject new blood into and organization like the SFTS.

In a way, I think the SFTS is a victim of its own success. Right now, there are few access problems in the county. The local open space departments are doing a phenomenal job with trails. The Forest Service, despite the short-handedness at the Dillon Ranger District, is on good terms with the mountain bike community. Many, many trails in Summit County exist because of the efforts of the SFTS. But that’s old news.

The real challenge going forward.

The challenge for the future involves the much-delayed Forest Service travel plan – and how that will effect mountain biking.

The town of Breckenridge and Summit County’s pending Golden Horseshoe land acquisition will require countless hours of trail work, both in the planning stage and in the field.

Freeride and downhill mountain biking present new challenges to the SFTS. How do we represent and support these new aspects of the support, yet stay true to our environmental values? Environmental education remains ongoing and necessary. New ideas and energy are needed.

In 1999, when the first version of the Forest Plan was unveiled – the infamous “alternative D” – the SFTS board had some serious soul-searching to do.

The plan, weighed heavy on the side of environmental protection. We had to make a decision, are we recreationists first or are we environmentalists first? After much discussion, we decided we felt protection of the land and all the living things it supports was most important to us.

While we didn’t support all the trail closures the plan proposed – in fact we strongly objected to some – we did support the concept of strong protection for the land.

To this day, the SFTS remains committed to this ideal. I invite anyone who shares these same convictions to be a part of the organization and to help take it into the new century.

New board members and officers are needed. Call me at (970) 453-5548. Guys like me, well, we’ve done enough, and it’s time for some new faces with new energy to come in.

It is my sincere hope that many of you reading these words will take the challenge, serve the sport, and most importantly, serve the land.

Remember that apathy is the enemy of any volunteer organization.

Mike Zobbe is founder and current president of the Summit Fat Tire Society. As he notes, he can be reached at (970) 453-5548.

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