I will start off by saying that I am a 15-year-old, that has had a rough past. Mountain biking got me through everything. Obviously, I could not go to the trails every day, so I would to this close by piece of land. Just recently I saw a future plan to develop said land. The problem is that the group that is in charge of this is not very compliant (a.k.a. they are stubborn and ignorant, and think only money). Sorry, as you can tell I’m very passionate about this. My question is, is there anything I can do about this? At least to make a small impact to slow things like this down.
Honestly it’s unlikely you can prevent this, but that’s not to say you can’t try!
– Show up at a zoning board meeting. If it’s a big development, chances are they will need to get government approval for their plans. Go and make the case that part of the land should be set aside for recreation/wildlife/etc.
– Do your homework. How long have the trails been on the land? In some places, there are real estate laws that say if someone has been using a property for X years and the landowners didn’t stop them, it’s no longer their land. Of course arguing this will require a lawyer which will be expensive…
– Get donations from local riders and buy or lease the land! Or, petition your local government to buy the property and make it a park.
None of this is easy, but it sounds like you’re really passionate. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn a lot and can feel good about giving it your best shot.
Be very polite when you get a chance to speak, it’s one thing to use that terminology here with people who sympathize, but it will not serve you well at town meetings. Go to a local bike shop or two to gater some help. See if anyone on City Counsel is MTB friendly. Write an opinion piece for you local paper. Your age and your story will garnish some support, use them. Keep in mind that it is the very same people making the money who pay for your parks (tax base), so you better have a better argument than they are greedy! Good luck.
Try to find a good riding club through your local bike shop or web. They may be able to help petition your local town or government. Best of luck, and always remember easier to get bees with honey. Be nice, be polite, and be realistic is your requests. Try to find common ground.
While it stinks that you won’t have that land to ride anymore, try to look at it from the owner’s perspective: that real estate is expensive, they have to pay significant taxes on it whether it is making money for them or not. It’s not greed to want the value from something you own/pay taxes on. Understanding that will help you be more effective in applying yourself to advocacy. Jeff has a great suggestions. Joining your local club and participating in the process spreads the message that trails add value to communities as well. Your particular corner might not be preserved in the long run, but you can help preserve (or even create new) trails. Getting your local parks and recreation managers to recognize mountain bike trails as good land use helps as well. I know the expression “win/win” sounds cheesy, but finding that scenario is the best way to get things done.
One of the trails I ride is named after the guy who donated the land for a park. Maybe if you become a real estate tycoon, or just have a few undeveloped acres, you can donate a few tracts of land for us mountain bikers to use. “Wes Thompson Park” has a good ring to it.