The cause for building and maintaining more non-motorized recreational trails in the Rim Country will receive a much-needed boost Feb. 12 to 15 with the arrival of International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) representatives.
“They are coming to town with the main goal of leading a local trail-building maintenance project, training volunteers on trail construction and promoting the value of non-motorized recreational trails,” said Mary McMullen, Town of Payson trails and outdoor recreation coordinator.
The visit is the handiwork of Mick Wolf, owner of Hike, Bike and Run, who contends the Tonto National Forest is in dire need of non-motorized trails because none currently exist.
“Zero miles here, but if you go over to Show Low, Lakeside and Pinetop, they have about 180 miles (of trails),” he said. “Sedona is the same, they have hundreds of miles of trails there.”
McMullen agrees that the TNF is in need of more trails mainly because mountain biking is a vastly growing sport, relatively inexpensive and a great way to build physical conditioning.
McMullen’s job responsibilities for the upcoming IMBA visit is to coordinate their work with Payson Area Trails System (PATS) volunteers.
“We want to get the word out to our community about the great work that will be done,” she said.
McMullen points out, however, that building non-motorized trails in the surrounding national forest is a separate project from the PATS she oversees.
The IMBA visitors will include one of the two Subaru Trail Care Crews that travel year-round throughout North America.
Their duties are to lead trail work sessions, meet with land managers and work with clubs and volunteers to improve mountain biking opportunities.
The TCC experts also lead a series of IMBA trail-building schools, one of which McMullen has attended.
IMBA, which was formed in 1988 by a group of California mountain bike clubs concerned about the closure of trails to cyclists, also offers grants and cash for trail improvement projects.
From 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 12, the IMBA representatives and Wolf will meet with town representatives including Mayor Ken Evans, some council members, Rim Country Regional Chamber Commerce Executive Director John Stanton, Recreation and Tourism Director Cameron Davis and possibly representatives of the Tonto National Forest.
Wolf said the purpose of the meeting is to explain IMBA’s mission of promoting responsible mountain biking, support volunteer trail work, improve relations among trail user groups and assist land managers with trail management issues.
“We also want to get across the economic impact that trails systems can have on a town,” Wolf added.
At 8 a.m. the following day, Wolf and the team will meet with volunteers at Tiny’s Restaurant to discuss innovative trail management and development solutions. The meeting is open to the public.
The remainder of the day Wolf, the Trail Care Crew and volunteers will spend in the field actually working on maintenance and development of non-motorized trails.
McMullen is hoping for a good turnout of volunteers.
“The more folks they get out to help with the trail project, the better,” she said.
For more information about the IMBA’s upcoming visit, call Wolf at (928) 478-6918.