I was invited to attend a U.S. Forest Service meeting on March 3rd that hosted various user groups, including mountain bikers, hikers, back-country horsemen, ATV people, and others.
They must have lowered the bar for this event because I typically don’t get invited. Crump and Jansky say this is because I do not have a filter. Shockingly, I was able to make it through the entire day without embarrassing any of the other biker reps.
Equally shocking, the meeting was well-organized and fairly productive (As a former educator, I am accustomed to meaningless meetings). The most interesting thing, from my perspective, was the USFS’s attitude toward mountain bikers. In the past, we were a pariah. At this meeting, USFS reps were praising us for our hard work and productivity.
One thing is clear – the Forest Service seems to now understand that mountain bikers are not typical volunteers. The physical profiles of others in the room on Friday would not have impressed you. My guess is that 100 hours of work done by our guys would equal about 250 hours of done by the other user groups.
We all had a chance to provide commentary. My focus was on the fact that the paradigm has changed dramatically in the past 15 years, and the USFS needs to get on board. With NWTA becoming increasingly effective, there is a work party opportunity virtually every weekend. People will show up for the work parties where they are treated right and have the greatest opportunity for fun.
My points – What is the USFS doing in this area? Do they feed us? Do they provide beer? Do they give people free Forest Passes? With so much competition in the world of volunteer recruitment, they need to get with the program.
We’ll see if anything changes. We’ll also see if I get invited to the next meeting.