The North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) began in the winter of 1997 in response to trail sabotage on mountain bike-specific trails. Mountain bike trail building was new at this time and the pioneers, Digger and Dangerous Dan, were victims of the sabotage. No injuries resulted but these were disquieting signs for the future of this user group on the North Shore.
Rumours (none substantiated) were circulating about various movements that would potentially imperil public access to mountain biking trails on the North Shore. "They" were saying that Grouse Mountain intended to take over Mt. Fromme trails and charge users to access the trails; that further housing development would take away trails on Cypress, Fromme and Seymour; and that B.C. Parks officials in Mt. Seymour would close down trails.
The problem facing North Shore mountain bikers was the lack of a grassroots organization capable of formulating a united response to these and other, future threats. Bike shops and Bike Industry had businesses to run. Other trail advocacy organizations existed but had as their mandate, the entire Lower Mainland.
In response to this reality and the rumours of the winter of 1997, an impromptu and informal meeting at the Black Bear pub resulted in the decision to form a mountain bike advocacy group for the North Shore. After much discussion, a name was chosen, an executive was elected and a decision was made to incorporate as a not-for-profit society.
Fortunately, many of the rumours had no credence. However, some trail closures – of highly significant North Shore trails – did occur. In a highly publicized "War of the Woods" chronicled in local papers The Province, the Vancouver Sun, the North Shore News and on CTV‘s National News television program, B.C. Parks in Mt Seymour began vigorous enforcement of provincial laws respecting illegal trails in parkland, and ticketing and fining mountain bikers riding on illegal trails. During the summer of 1998, a trailbuilder was actually caught building a trail and prosecuted.
The First Years
The first task of the NSMBA then became containment of the portrayal of mountain bikers as air-headed "dudes and dudettes” as one editorial so unkindly characterized riders. In an effort to respond to issues that all seemed to come to a head at the same time, trail advocates were busy during that long hot summer.
Relationships with the landowners, including the District of North Vancouver (DNV), Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR), and BC Parks, were established. Trail maintenance days were initiated to show the non-riding public that we were a user group that cared about the trails. In 2001, the NSMBA became a not-for-profit charity.
- We hold, on average, nine trail days per year, contributing approximately 5,000 hours of volunteer labour per year to the land owners.
- We have grown to 1,700 members.
- We have introduced many riders to the importance of giving back to the trail system through regular maintenance, thereby engaging the riders to contributing to a sustainable trail system.
- We have built bridges with riders, bike shops, bike industry representatives and land owners, both figuratively and literally.
Over the years, we have worked with the LSCR on their stewardship plan and will continue to work with them on their Recreational Trail Master Plan, which includes mountain biking. We will also continue to work with the DNV on their Alpine Recreational Strategic Study.
We will continue to provide volunteers to maintain the mountain bike trails on District and LSCR land of Mt. Seymour and Fromme Mountain. The NSMBA has in the past been, and will continue to be, available to patrol trails on behalf of the Fire Department to report potential wild fires.
We will be working with the landowners to educate users on respecting the trail system, the residential areas adjacent to the trail system and other trail users. Items stressed will be safety, environmental sensitivity and the need for volunteerism. We will do this by communicating through our membership database, through the bike shops, the internet and by distributing information on kiosks and maps.
We will also continue to support the development of science-based trail sustainability solutions by continued involvement in events such as the World Mountain Bike Conference and commissioning Environmental Impact Reports, as was done in 2004 (Mystery Creek Trail EIA by Keystone, 2004).
With an increase in the number of mountain biker riders on the trails of Mt. Seymour and Fromme Mountain, the impact on the environment will increase. We hope to mitigate the impact by increasing environmental awareness and sensitivity of recreationalists to the issues. We will continue our trail maintenance efforts, as well as facilitate and train more independent volunteer workers.
We will create a trail crew to work on higher-level maintenance (drainage, structure assessment and repair, bridges over watercourses and wetlands, rock armouring to reduce erosion, etc.) and on trails where volunteers do not work because of difficult access or high traffic on weekends, and evenings when volunteers have time to work.
As no trails have been officially designated as mountain bike-only, we work on the trails to accommodate runners, hikers and dog walkers who also use the trail system. All work on this multi-use network is done with the safety and enjoyment of everyone in mind.
Funding for the NSMBA is through membership donations, corporate donations and sale of T-shirts and jerseys.
We have successfully obtained the following grants:
- Mountain Equipment Co-op - Trail Head Signs || Seymour Kiosks and SRLM Project
- Provincial Gaming Commission - CBC Trail Maintenance || Baden Powell Trail Maintenance
- North Shore Mountain Bike Event Society - Camp Brick Reroute || Bridle Path Bridging Project
- Loewen Foundation - Trail Crew Project