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Something else that's come up in side conversations here, and Cam mentioned.... the proverbial elephant in the forest: forestry. Its something of a false equivalence to compare trails and forestsry. Sort of.
There's a lot of "but forestry cuts out huge blocks, logging roads, etc, etc etc."
Yep, they sure do, and I don't think anyone is going to try and deny that impact. But why they get to do so is important.
They go through MASSIVE hurdles compared to any trail application to do so. Environmental assessments, geotechnical and quaternary mapping, road engineering, archaeological assessment, following the Water Act, the list goes on. We, as trail advocates and builders don't have to go through most of that. And I have no interest in starting - there's already a process in place for trails on Crown land, and really its a pretty reasonable one. Could it be better? Yep. Could it take less time? Yep.
Forestry has a process, and they follow it. They also have (and this is important) very quantifiable impacts on the local and provincial economy. Its pretty easy to count tax dollars and jobs. Its not the same for mountain biking, or outdoor recreation in general.
Mountain biking is challenging to measure by these metrics - last time you traveled and got a hotel somewhere, ate dinner, or got gas, did you declare on the forms "I am a traveling mountain biker, bringing my dollars from elsewhere! Rejoice in my revenue!"
Didn't think so. There's also no "I moved to the Shore (or Squamish, or wherever) for mountain biking" declaration on your tax forms, either.
The economic impacts of adventure and outdoor rec tourism are very real, and they're also very hard to assign a dollar value. So lets start thinking about how we advocate and lobby for ourselves at the provincial level, and how we quantify the impacts of mountain biking in real-dollar terms. Martin and the MBTA's economic impact studies are a start, but they're currently restricted to the S2S.
If you live ANYWHERE, you're an elected officials constituent. Use that power. Call them. Get involved. Tell them they should be funding outdoor rec, or you'll vote for someone else next time. And maybe, if enough people do so, the process and funding will improve.
And speaking of provincial level advocacy...
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