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T Grimble
October 24th, 2010, 08:07 AM
Massachusetts Audubon has taken a very strong anti-mountain bike stance at the Middlesex Fells. They are putting a lot of pressure on the DCR to prevent the trails plan from being approved. I have a lot of positive past history with Audubon. My family has been members for as long as I can remember and I have enjoyed many of their properties. After having a discussion with the Audubon policy people, I decided to let my membership expire. I can not support an organization that does not share my values.

So, I got a phone call at home from a volunteer from Mass Audubon asking me to re-join.
I spent 10 minutes on the phone with her. Explained my concerns and told her that not only would I not re-join, I was going to try to convince her to reconsider her own involvement with the organization. After some discussion, she was surprised to hear the actions that Mass. Audubon had taken. She said that her father was an avid mountain biker and that she did not agree with their policy direction. We spent some time talking about how conservation improves if people have a personal connection with the environment. The new conservation movement needs to be more inclusive. She kept saying “but Audubon does so many good programs”. I responded that restricting State Park access to a small and elite few is a sin that undoes all the good done by those programs.

boudy
October 24th, 2010, 11:36 AM
Thanks for posting this. I've also been a Mass Audubon member for a few years. I feel its important to support those organizations whose land I ride. I will contact them to express my concern about their position at the Fells.

One way to counter these anti-MTB activities is for large numbers of us to join these organizations and become leaders within them.

Leaving these organizations completely gives us absolutely no leverage in their policies and actions.

boudy
October 24th, 2010, 11:48 AM
Here is the document that illustrates the "strong anti-mountain biking stance":

http://www.fells.org/file/Audubon%20Letter%20Fellstrails.pdf

CFPMan
October 24th, 2010, 12:20 PM
I had already sent in my membership before I saw their response.

"We understand that other trail users also have impacts, and that there are other recreational management issues in the
Fells including off-leash dogs, trash, parties, and accidentally and intentionally set fires. However,
the current “spider” network of illegal trails is attributable in large part, if not entirely, to mountain
bikes. This damage is extensive and ever expanding."

After reading the above line in their response that I realize how little Audubon really understands. Its a shame that an organization with the reputation of Audubon would be so ill informed as to the reality of this area. I think the DCR is a little closer to the area and understands the benefits as they outlined in the draft plan.

Everyone should send in their comments supporting the draft plan. I would suggest that we add some type of single lane through Virginia Woods. The draft plan would essentially close off the entire eastern section for those coming from the west side.

T Grimble
October 24th, 2010, 07:49 PM
One of the problems is that the Audubon position was written by people who have no connection to the fells. For them the Fells is just a battleground where they can wage their political battles. They are more concerned about the legislation that requires the DCR to prepare an RMP than they are in the ecology of the park. I wish I could say that they were ill informed but they know the issues. I sat in their offices and spoke with their policy people. The issue of the spider web trails was discussed. I explained that these trails were created by the "Cruisers". They did not question or argue this point. They are not ignorant. They are choosing to misrepresent the truth to further their own cause.

hammerhead
October 24th, 2010, 08:36 PM
They are not ignorant. They are choosing to misrepresent the truth to further their own cause.

Lying to achieve their political agenda :(

I never expected such things from well respected organizations that sponsor such fine programs.

DAVID J
October 24th, 2010, 09:14 PM
Here in Groton we recently lost trails to Audubon. There is still a slight chance we'll get some sort of access back. If that happens I'll gladly join MAS.

antmav
October 25th, 2010, 08:51 PM
Although I understand, and on some slight level, can respect (although completely disagree with) most of MAS's views and stances on mountain biking , I personally would NEVER choose to support an Agency that has historically and still continues the 'good fight' to ban mountain biking on their property.

Even if by some slight miracle we are able to 'get back' some of the trails we lost in Groton, I wouldn't even consider sending MAS one penny of my money until MAS changes their Agency's vision on mountain biking. One look at that Fells letter should be enough for any mountain biker to reconsider their memebership with MAS.

I truly appreciate those that continually attempt to advocate for us bikers and to reach out to MAS (and all landowners) in an attempt to educate them with the latest factual information on mountian biking.

I'm hoping for the best but I'm not holding my breath on this one.

IMHO, supporting NEMBA, IMBA-Good for us mountain bikers, supporting MAS-Bad for us mountain bikers.

Please realize, I'm submitting my opinion as a mountain biker, not a hiker, photographer, leaf peeper, etc....

1adam12
October 26th, 2010, 08:12 AM
We were members of Mass. Audubon for years when our kids were younger. We spent a *lot* of time out at Drumlin Farm and Habitat. I've considered rejoining but based on their current stance, forget it.

SteveC
October 27th, 2010, 08:42 AM
Read the state of the snake (http://www.karlmeyerwriting.com/blog/2010/04/16/“in-encounters-where-snake-identity-comes-into-question-the-snakes-always-loose-”/) , especially the next to last paragraph. I've written to him and the Audobon since reading this article in Sanctuary a few issues back. Neither of them wrote back a response. I unfortunately am now a non-member of Audobon, I'll never infiltrate and become a leader there, just doesn't make sense. Ironically, these people, the AMC, and others are going to lead to the demise of all of our open space. Since no human will be allowed to mingle with nature, we'll have these vast wastelands in 10-15 years that the powers will decide to sell of to build more condos. Everyone will lose.

*And I submit my opinion above as a family man, homeowner, taxpayer, and not just as a mountainbiker but as a multi-user as well.*
Steve Cobble

Mass Audubon
October 27th, 2010, 09:55 AM
We’ve read with interest this thread on mountain biking at Middlesex Fells, and thought it would be helpful to explain where Mass Audubon stands on the issue and why.

Mass Audubon is not anti-mountain biking. Our position on the Middlesex Fells is to support development of a Resource Management Plan (RMP) by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) that will address both the protection of the land and the recreational uses. DCR is required by law to conduct integrated planning.

The Fells has over 122 miles of trails, many of which are in poor and degrading condition. Several of these trails also pass through ecologically sensitive areas. In fact, the Fells is home to a vast array of plants and animals, including 8 state-listed rare or endangered species. And there are over 100 vernal pools on the property, which are very sensitive and the amphibians that breed in them require undisturbed habitat in the adjoining forest.

Mass Audubon believes that it is possible to preserve this natural heritage while providing a diversity of recreational opportunities, including mountain biking. We are pleased that DCR has accelerated the schedule for the Resource Management Planning, which will begin in November. This will address both resource protection and all forms of recreation at the Fells.

Our concern, identified in a letter written September 27, 2010 to DCR, was that significant changes to uses of the trails proposed in the Trails Draft Plan should not take place before the RMP is complete. You can read the letter here: http://web.massaudubon.org/site/DocServer/Fells_trails_plan_initial_joint_letter_-_final.pdf?docID=3604.



Any major changes should be done only in context of the full RMP process. In the meantime, DCR's first priority needs to be on stabilizing existing problem areas.

If you have any questions about where we stand on this issue and why, please contact us at advocacy@massaudubon.org. Thank you.


Jan Kruse
Communications Manager
Mass Audubon

antmav
October 27th, 2010, 10:24 AM
"Mass Audubon is not anti-mountain biking."

Jan,
Great, that's good news. Could you please point me to some Mass Audubon properties that allow mountain biking. I would love to explore some of your managed parcels on my bike. I checked your website and didn't see any that allowed mountain biking.

Thanks

SteveC
October 27th, 2010, 11:22 AM
Jan
I made that same observation. If Audobon is not anti-bike, why are all bicycles lumped in with the 'do not bring onto the site' with motorized vehicles at every sanctuary? Sure you don't mind us riding on other people's property, just apparently not yours!

T Grimble
October 27th, 2010, 11:49 AM
Jan,
I am glad that you have shown interest in this discussion. Your response brings up several questions.

I am glad to hear that you are not anti-mountain biking. Can you please define your position on mountain biking at the Fells? Do you believe that the current state of access for cyclists is equitable? Do you support NEMBA’s objective of increasing trail access for mountain bikes? Should access remain the same or do you think it should be reduced?

I think we all agree that we want to protect sensitive habitat. The draft trails plan calls for the immediate re-routing of trails that impact sensitive habitat such as vernal pools. Can you explain how waiting a year or more for the completion of the full RMP will benefit the habitat?

The DCR has explained that all pertinent information that is needed to make sound decisions about the trails including all appropriate ecological information is included in the draft trails plan. What specific information do you think is missing?

SteveC
October 27th, 2010, 11:54 AM
I 'm not saying that all MAS properties should allow bikes, but the blanket policy makes me wonder what 'their' attitude is towards bikes on trails in general, since they are 'involved' with other private and public properties as well.

1adam12
October 27th, 2010, 12:47 PM
Jan,
I'm also pleased to see MA Audubon participating on here. However, I don't think you have your facts straight:

"Our position on the Middlesex Fells is to support development of a Resource Management Plan (RMP) by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) that will address both the protection of the land and the recreational uses. DCR is required by law to conduct integrated planning."

Your organization (and others like Sierra Club and Friends of the Fells) are trying to use use the RMP process to block any changes at the Fells. To be clear, NEMBA supports RMP's - they are a good thing. However, MGL Ch 21, Sec 2F, which defines the RMP requirement for DCR only says that they must create them. It *doesn't* say that they are prohibited from making policy decisions in the absence of one that benefit the park and users. If that was the intent of the law then just come out and say it so we will all know.

If MGL Ch 21, Sec 2F is to be interpreted like this, DCR shouldn't be doing anything, anywhere until they complete all the RMP's for every...single...park...forest...and...resource under their responsibility. Is that what you are suggesting? Because that's what you're advocating. So, sometime around 2025 we can get around to actually using our parks. Sounds like a plan.

If you've read DCR's Draft Plan for the Fells, you know that they have spent an inordinate amount of time covering the trail issues. Far more than is normally included in a "regular" RMP process. To echo Tom, what exactly did they leave out?

Many of the trail issues you are concerned about at the Fells are the result of poor trail design and placement. The plan addresses that and recommends immediate changes. Again, how is that bad?

NEMBA is strongly pro-conservation: do you think we are insensitive to vernal pools or all the natural beauty in the Fells (or anywhere)? The implication is that we mountain bikers don't appreciate those things and that couldn't be farther from the truth. The other implication is that an elite few get to decide for us what the "right" way to recreate and enjoy our publicly-funded natural resources. I have another word for that: tyranny.

Lastly, since this is a forum, I hope you didn't just sign up to make that one statement and then leave. That would be lame. I hope that you stay and participate in the discussion. If you don't, you will have pretty much met my expectations of why you made that post. I hope I'm wrong. MA Audubon shouldn't be taking the positions it is taking. I will never again support your organization if this is the way it is.

agabriel
October 27th, 2010, 01:17 PM
This is starting to get really interesting - MAS needs to provide a better explanation. Lets get the Facts out!

C.P.
October 27th, 2010, 01:27 PM
Thank you Jan for joining the discussion. I've read the thread and quickly wanted to share a thought. In my opinion, with this open dialog started here, it might be a good opportunity for possible collaboration between MAS and NEMBA, especially with regard to advocating open space and openly discussing how to best plan land use. Our family has been MAS members for years, (MooseHill Sharon MA) and I spent last weekend on the Halloween Prowl (2nd year). Maybe this dialog could be a start to work toward strengthening common goals, with the end result being a stronger and larger but most importantly unified open space advocacy voice. With the potential budget cuts we may see after this election cycle, it may be a very helpful asset if we want to keep protected open space, ecology and continued access to our public and privately owned open space properties. I'll close with MAS 12 tips for Collaboration. Taken from MAS Land Advocacy (http://www.massaudubon.org/shapingthefuture/shapingtoc.php).

12 Tips for Collaborative Leadership. By MAS
1.“Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Nothing beats “time spent.” Your efforts make a difference.
3. Focus on building solid, trusting relationships both with individuals and broader groups or coalitions.
4. Assume good intent – don’t jump to conclusions before knowing the facts.
5. Sarcasm is the weapon of the weak.
6. Look for the good and let the rest die of neglect.
7. People support what they help create.
8. A person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated – a simple “thank you” goes a long way.
9. Always, always share credit.
10. You can save the world and still have fun doing it; you don’t have to be overly serious to be effective.
11. Don’t burn bridges – today’s opponent may be your most important ally tomorrow.
12. Don’t Quit!

SteveC
October 27th, 2010, 01:34 PM
Thank you Adam. I've said all I can say....alot of us have..,now let's hear it again from MAS. You're(MAS members and admin) all welcome to respond. My feeling is that there are many differing opinions and stances within your organization...and I fear that maybe only a few are actually 'in charge' and are making the political decisions and connections. Again, I've said all I can say...

Superbman
October 29th, 2010, 08:56 AM
Jan,
I'm also pleased to see MA Audubon participating on here. However, I don't think you have your facts straight:

"Our position on the Middlesex Fells is to support development of a Resource Management Plan (RMP) by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) that will address both the protection of the land and the recreational uses. DCR is required by law to conduct integrated planning."

Your organization (and others like Sierra Club and Friends of the Fells) are trying to use use the RMP process to block any changes at the Fells. To be clear, NEMBA supports RMP's - they are a good thing. However, MGL Ch 21, Sec 2F, which defines the RMP requirement for DCR only says that they must create them. It *doesn't* say that they are prohibited from making policy decisions in the absence of one that benefit the park and users. If that was the intent of the law then just come out and say it so we will all know.

If MGL Ch 21, Sec 2F is to be interpreted like this, DCR shouldn't be doing anything, anywhere until they complete all the RMP's for every...single...park...forest...and...resource under their responsibility. Is that what you are suggesting? Because that's what you're advocating. So, sometime around 2025 we can get around to actually using our parks. Sounds like a plan.

If you've read DCR's Draft Plan for the Fells, you know that they have spent an inordinate amount of time covering the trail issues. Far more than is normally included in a "regular" RMP process. To echo Tom, what exactly did they leave out?

Many of the trail issues you are concerned about at the Fells are the result of poor trail design and placement. The plan addresses that and recommends immediate changes. Again, how is that bad?

NEMBA is strongly pro-conservation: do you think we are insensitive to vernal pools or all the natural beauty in the Fells (or anywhere)? The implication is that we mountain bikers don't appreciate those things and that couldn't be farther from the truth. The other implication is that an elite few get to decide for us what the "right" way to recreate and enjoy our publicly-funded natural resources. I have another word for that: tyranny.

Lastly, since this is a forum, I hope you didn't just sign up to make that one statement and then leave. That would be lame. I hope that you stay and participate in the discussion. If you don't, you will have pretty much met my expectations of why you made that post. I hope I'm wrong. MA Audubon shouldn't be taking the positions it is taking. I will never again support your organization if this is the way it is.



I hope Jan et al read adam's post here-I'm bumping it back to the top and I hope She actually looked at it. This is a clear and concise explanation of what is really at stake in the Fells.

As it stands, I think Tom's initial proposal that NEMBA members divest from the Audubon Society and encourage other recreationalists to do the same is the best course of action. The fact that they weighed in at all surrounding the Fells suggests an anti-bike allegiance has already been formed and their position taken.

The Audubon's management policies on their own properties is entirely up to them, I have no problem with their 'no bikes' policies (same goes for the Trustees and various land trusts). But the fact that in the above post, Jan from MassAudubon mirrors the Friends of the Fells bullet points tells me that there is an attempt to extend their private anti-bike ethos to the public spaces we, as a community, have gone overboard to to sustain, improve, and ultimately enjoy.

Her post didn't sound at all like the beginning of a dialogue, but rather more like a dismissive lecture.

This is one family of 4 who will not rejoin the Audubon Society, not visit their properties and encourage other families to do the same.

Liam

GS
October 29th, 2010, 10:10 AM
Make it one of 5 families who won't rejoin Audobon or Sierra Club, FOF membership ended years ago. All that now goes to NEMBA. AMC is still good in my book.

antmav
October 29th, 2010, 11:08 AM
Count me as 1 family that will NEVER financially support MAS. I shared this thread with a neighbor who rides and is a MAS member. He informed me that once is membership is up, he will not renew. He's been a MAS member for 10+ years.

I'll continue to direct my $$$ to IMBA & NEMBA!!!!!!!!!!!

Evil Chocula
October 29th, 2010, 07:46 PM
Count me as 1 family that will NEVER financially support MAS. I shared this thread with a neighbor who rides and is a MAS member. He informed me that once is membership is up, he will not renew. He's been a MAS member for 10+ years.

I'll continue to direct my $$$ to IMBA & NEMBA!!!!!!!!!!!


X2. I'll be passing this this on to my client base as well.

Chris_T
October 30th, 2010, 11:58 AM
Hit them where it hurts - current Audubon members should email development@massaudubon.org letting them know that their membership will be dropped.

1adam12
November 1st, 2010, 04:08 PM
I don't think the fact the MTB-users are a smaller percentage of overall MAS membership is that important. I do think that it's probably not that small, especially if somewhere along the way you started a family - MAS has lots of great kids programs. I think the important thing is making visible their hypocrisy and combining it with a willingness to "vote-with-your-checkbook". Does MAS want to have the bad publicity of being labeled actively anti- something? Maybe yes at this point.

Jan, you're not doing MAS any favors by fulfilling my prediction from earlier.

Chris_T
November 3rd, 2010, 11:43 AM
So, in the face of continuing silence from MAS, I emailed their development@massaudubon.org address directly. And I got a response, so I encourage you to do the same. Here's the thread (so far). Hopefully they'll come back and have a discussion here.

****** My original note

to development@massaudubon.org
date Sat, Oct 30, 2010 at 10:56 AM
subject My Audubon membership...

Will NEVER come to be as long as you oppose mountain biking. I care a great deal about preserving open spaces and our natural places. And I support a great number of environmental causes.

Jan Kruse thew one bland statement into this thread (http://www.nemba.org/forums/showthread.php?26298-Reconsider-joining-Audubon/page2) but her non-response indicates that this was strictly damage control rather than an attempt to engage and find common ground.

Instead of throwing out a PR statement, come back and join the discussion.

Speaking only for myself,

Chris Thurrott

****** Audubon's response:

On Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 4:28 PM, Christina McDermott <cmcdermott@massaudubon.org> wrote:
Dear Mr. Thurrott,

Thank you for your e-mail of October 30. It’s terrific that we agree on the importance of preserving natural places. Let me reassure you that Mass Audubon does not oppose mountain biking at the Middlesex Fells. We also do not oppose other existing recreational uses of the Fells, including hiking and cross country skiing. Because there is sensitive habitat supporting many animals and plants, including eight endangered species, we do support a hold on expanding any recreational use of this state land until a comprehensive management plan is completed. The Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Resource Management Plan process is the proper forum to coordinate protection of natural resources and recreational uses. We encourage you as well as others to participate in that public process when it gets underway later this fall.

In the meantime, comments on the draft of the Trails Plan should be submitted by November 19 to Fellstrail.Comments@state.ma.us or by mail to Fells Trail Comments, 136 Damon Road, Northampton, MA, 01060.

Regards,

Jack Clarke
Director of Public Policy and Government Relations
Mass Audubon


(sent on behalf of Jack Clarke by Christina McDermott)

Christina McDermott
Assistant to the Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
Mass Audubon
6 Beacon Street, Suite 1025
Boston, MA 02108
617-523-8448


***** My response to their response

Dear Ms. McDermott:

It is precisely because there are sensitive habitat that we need to act now to start cleaning up the mess that years of poor policy and poor trail design have inflicted on the Fells. In point of fact, the steps outlined in the Trails Plan have analyzed these sensitive habitats and take them into account. There would be no "expanded recreational use" but rather a reduction of trail inventory, the beginnings of driving out undesirable use, and a legitimization of EXISTING use on EXISTING trails.

If Mass Audubon truly cares about protecting the resources at the Fells they will throw their support behind starting to protect those resources NOW rather than waiting more years for completion of an RMP.

If Mass Audubon truly cares about working with the mountain bike community, engage in a discussion with us rather than talking AT us.

I look forward to continuing this discussion on the NEMBA forums so that a variety of voices can contribute to a great solution for the Fells. A starting point would be for you to please outline the main differences you see between the planning and analysis that has been done for the Trails Plan and an RMP.

Thank you,

Chris Thurrott

1adam12
November 3rd, 2010, 07:17 PM
I've posted a more detailed analysis of Mass. Audubon and their position here: http://www.gbnemba.org/entry/lets-set-the-record-straight-mass-audubon-is-anti-mountain-bike

Superbman
November 9th, 2010, 10:41 AM
Guys,

You all know this situation has gotten worse with the addition of the Sierra Club joining the fray against equitable access for mountain bikers.

Post to your facebook pages, work your email lists, friends and families-everyone you know needs to voice support for the present DCR proposal (use one of those links floating around).

We can't lose this one-it's been 10 years since their has been an advocacy battle like this (since the attempt to classify mountain bikes as ORVs)-we need to keep the fire lit and the public noise loud and clear.

Liam

antmav
November 10th, 2010, 11:30 AM
Guys,
Post to your facebook pages, work your email lists, friends and families-everyone you know needs to voice support for the present DCR proposal (use one of those links floating around).
Liam

I recently forwarded the link to GB NEMBA email petition out to a few of the 'gangs' I ride with out here in NW suburbs of Boston. So far, there have been a ton of riders who registered their name and email address in support.

Good Luck Bro.

Chris_T
November 11th, 2010, 02:38 PM
More info on Sierra and Audubon's anti MTB efforts at http://www.gbnemba.org - good for giving folks more background on the situation