This week we have guest author/guide Marc Landblom aka Blom reporting on his recent journey to our nation’s capital for bicycle advocacy with another long time guide Max Lohmeyer (current bike shop owner of the The Hub of Salmon Idaho). Those who know Blom and Max will know that this is a departure from their norm of being general badass bike guides who can drive a truck, ride a bike, build a damn good storm shelter, use a chainsaw etc…basically going from the physical to the cerebral. Which is not to say guiding is not a constant mental game but much less of a chess game that politics can be….I’m very proud of those guys for getting out there and representing us mountain bikers at a grassroots level!
Well, I should let Blom tell the story! Thanks for traveling all that way to have your voices heard! -Nancy
In March 2013 Max and I took upon a great adventure, the adventure of democracy. As our privilege and civil duties of being United States citizens, we drove across this great nation to participate in the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC . That’s roughly 2300 miles one way from Salmon, Idaho. By the way, it’s almost impossible to park a full size pickup in DC.
This gathering of over 750 bicycle advocates represented all 50 states, the first time in the history of the League of American Bicyclists.
The National Bike Summit is an annual event that allows advocates to address bicycle related issues on Capitol Hill. The first two days of the Summit were meetings within the “League”. This allowed us to create relationships with other advocates and understand everybody’s pursuit for bicycling. The last day was Capitol Hill Day, where all +750 advocates fanned out to every office and attended meetings with senators and house representatives.
This was my second time to Washington, DC, for the National Bike Summit. For Max, this was his first taste of democracy at a federal level. A week prior to the summit, we both stood at the State House, in Boise, Idaho, testifying to a committee about the conditions of recreational trails within Lemhi County. Wearing torn Wranglers and a dirty baseball cap, Max worked the room, catching the attention of all committee members. But in DC, we had to put on our “Sunday Carharts” and wash the trail dirt from our faces. This is the big league, not Triple A.
- That Idaho helps prioritize trail maintenance within Custer and Lemhi Counties. By having multiuse trails maintained annually, locals and visitors can access public lands for multiple recreations. Plus it will help boost local economy by attracting visitors to our area.
- Utilize funds earmarked for trail construction and maintenance. MAP-21, the recent Federal transportation bill, disperses funds to the Department of Transportation of all 50 states. Within this transportation bill is an earmark for “trail construction and maintenance”. The individual states can utilize this small percentage for road construction and forget about multiuse trails. By bringing this to the attention of our delegates, we may be able to keep these funds from being absorbed by road projects. These funds will help create employment in rural areas.
- Utilize local youth corps for trail maintenance and other projects on our public lands. There are 7 youth corps organizations that operate in Idaho. The Youth Employment Program is the only one from Idaho. The other 6 come from neighboring states. We need to have these employment opportunities for Idaho’s youth, and to keep our funds within our state.
We met with Congressman Simpson’s office, Senator Risch’s office, and Senator Crappo’s office. Their responses’ to our requests were good. Senator Crappo’s office has been working with Max to make sure the needs of the Salmon area are met.
I also represented North Dakota for the second year in a roll. It was important to continue my pursuit for protecting outdoor recreation in the Badlands. Last year caught the attention of the Senators. This year I made it clear that this battle is serious. Both Senator Hoeven’s office and Senator Heitkamp’s office realizes that more needs to be done to protect the Badlands from being wiped out by the oil boom. These are the requests to the North Dakota Delegates:
- Keep a safe route through south western North Dakota for bike tourists following the Adventure Cycling routes. The new route through Medora appears to be a good alternative to the old route through Williston. Let’s keep safe roadways for cyclists.
- Keep RECREATION a primary use for the Little Missouri National Grasslands and specific State lands. Outdoor recreation is an intimate moment between an individual and his/her creator.
- Help promote recreation towards the new residences of North Dakota. Many young people are finding it difficult to access these opportunities. It’s easy to find themselves in the bars. Let’s encourage them to venture outside and enjoy our landscape. These are the people we need to keep in North Dakota. Recreation enthusiasts are high spirited, positive thinkers, and are great influences on children. Let’s utilize our local media to promote outdoor recreation.
- If there are funds for recreation or for human powered transportation (ex; greenways, sidewalks, multi-use non-motorized trails) will you encourage that those funds be used for their true attentions? Funds that may come from MAP-21, RTP (Recreational Trails Program) or any State revenues that can improve human powered transportation.
- Help keep an open migration corridor for big game along the Little Missouri River, one that is free of bridges and other obstructions.
- Help keep oil well locations far from National Park boundaries.
- If Wilderness designation is create within the ND Badlands will you consider the idea of “Wilderness ‘B’”, so mountain bikes can continue to enjoy all of the Maah Daah Hey Trail. The Badlands Conservation Alliance is on board with this idea. North Dakota can be the model for other states to allow all non-motorized travel within wilderness.
- Attend a Tour of Education. This is an invitation for all North Dakota Delegates (and their staff) to experience the Maah Daah Hey Trail for a mountain bike adventure. Or a hike if mountain biking sounds painful. It’s important for our public officials to understand, first hand, what it means to enjoy the solitude of the Badlands. For one day or multiple days, come out and experience why the MDHT and the Badlands are so important. This is not a gift! This is an opportunity to learn the importance of the Maah Daah Hey Trail with the help of a trail expert. I came to your office to address the concerns of recreation in western North Dakota. With everything I say and photos that I share, the message is incomplete. So I ask you to visit my office. The message will speak to you, effortlessly. Feel free to call and set up an appointment.
The meetings are proving to be successful. The message to DC has been delivered to Bismarck, North Dakota, as well. All the State officials are taking a closer look of the oil impacts on outdoor recreation within the Badlands. But the battle is far from over. We can use more help to make this message stronger. If you experienced the Maah Daah Hey Trail or other activities within the Badlands, will you take the time to help? Will you email North Dakota officials asking them to protect outdoor recreation within the Badlands? Address to them, kindly, what you experienced in the Badlands and why its important to keep these experience available for future recreational enthusiasts. If you can also spread the word to others, asking them to do the same our message will grow stronger.
People to email:
Mr. Lynn Helms, Director of Mineral Resources for NDIC email@example.com
Gov. Jack Dalrymple, North Dakota governor.nd.gov/contact-us
I want to thank all the supporters that made our journey to Washington, DC possible. With so much support, we have proven that Democracy works, for those who show up. Thank you for all the help.
Guide for Escape Adventures, Secretary of Trails for SIMBA (Salmon Idaho Mountain Bike Association) firstname.lastname@example.org, Crew Boss for the Youth Employment Program and the Outdoor Recreation Advocate for the ND Badlands.