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Reconsider joining Audubon

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  • Reconsider joining Audubon

    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.

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      Here is the document that illustrates the "strong anti-mountain biking stance":
      Last edited by boudy; October 24th, 2010, 10:54 AM.


      • #4
        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.


        • #5
          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.


          • #6
            Originally posted by T Grimble View Post
            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.
            PVNEMBA - Riding at its BEST


            • #7
              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.


              • #8
                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....
                Slaphead Mofo Leisure Team
                Sunday River Bike Park


                • #9
                  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.


                  • #10
                    Snakes Rule the Trails!

                    Read the state of the snake , 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
                    Last edited by SteveC; October 27th, 2010, 07:46 AM.
                    If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on.--Lance Armstrong



                    • #11
                      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:

                      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 Thank you.

                      Jan Kruse
                      Communications Manager
                      Mass Audubon


                      • #12
                        "Mass Audubon is not anti-mountain biking."

                        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.

                        Slaphead Mofo Leisure Team
                        Sunday River Bike Park


                        • #13
                          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!
                          If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on.--Lance Armstrong



                          • #14
                            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?


                            • #15
                              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.
                              If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on.--Lance Armstrong