Dear Poto MBA Membership,
As you know, the Poto MBA decided to cancel our membership meeting this evening due to the COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing. It’s an unprecedented time of uncertainty, frustration, and restlessness. As a result, I wanted to take the opportunity to write this letter to membership to share some exciting and positive news from the Poto MBA.
First, I’d like to introduce myself as the new President of the Poto MBA, effective March 1st. I’ve been Vice-President for 4+ years. Professionally, I work for a global company as a Product Environmental Compliance Manager. In short, I make industrial products more environmentally friendly. I’ve been riding for about 13 years. I’ve done some racing in the past, but I’m mostly about adventures and embracing nature on the trails. I dabble in gravel as well. Life throws unexpected things at us at times, so I’m a bit rusty in my current state, but I’m currently working up to riding from Banff to Whitefish, Montana this summer. I’m pretty stoked, but enough about me.
The current Poto MBA board consists of:
Jenny Schultz, President
Carl Loomis, Vice-President
Mike Balhorn, Treasurer
Amanda Hatfield, Secretary
Jason Aric Jones
I rode Poto for the first time in quite a while on Sunday. There was still some ice on the bodies of water in places. The birds were singing, and the trees were budding. It was nice to see all the social distancing in progress – many hikers and riders were out experiencing the joy of the trail. Our trails are officially open for the season.
Spring is a time of renewal. It’s also an excellent time to think about revitalization of the Poto.
In early 2020, a membership survey was distributed. A few key points from the survey results are listed below.
• Responses reinforce the mission of the Poto MBA around trail maintenance, development and advocacy for mountain biking
• Users view the “Top 4” most important Poto MBA’s objectives to be: trail maintenance (77%), new trail development (59%), sustainable reroutes (51%), protecting challenging terrain (51%) and advocacy (49%).
• Views on 2020 fundraising objectives prioritize improving the quality of existing trails, adding features to build skill, and building new trail
• Top focus for targeted fundraising: 1). addressing erosion concerns at the Poto, 2.) addition of technical features/drop/jumps (not trail specific, general comment) 3). more mileage/trails
• Trail maintenance responses suggest there is greater desire for trail maintenance volunteer opportunities than is being offered currently
• 61% expressed interest in trail maintenance volunteering, 34% felt not enough opportunities, 19 provided their names to be contacted to volunteer, 52% would like to learn more trail techniques
• Enhanced communication on trail maintenance opportunities is needed
• More clarity on PotoMBA goals and progress and enhanced communications are desired
• The majority of users feel PotoMBA trails meet their wants (71%), but they would like to continue to see more to continue the trajectory the chapter is on
• Recognition for chapter efforts is evident and most view PotoMBA as effective (8.25/10), with room for improvement
Our mission is to “maintain and develop mountain biking trails, promote and advocate for the sport of mountain biking, and build the mountain biking community in Washtenaw and Livingston counties. The Poto MBA values the survey feedback and we are taking action to incorporate the survey outcome into our planning for 2020 and beyond.
In alignment with the top focus for targeted fundraising being addressing erosion concerns at the Poto, we would like to announce that we are focusing fundraising efforts on the “Potawatomi Trail – Sustainable Preservation and Improvement Plan”, or Poto Project for short. The Poto has some erosive unsustainable trail conditions due to dated trail building techniques and heavy usage by multiple user groups. The objective of this plan is to maintain the well-respected ruggedness of the Poto, while improving the longevity of the trail by implementing modern sustainable trail building techniques. We have set a target goal to raise $300K in the next three years to support this initiative, which will allow us to hire professionals to get the job done. We will be performing a formal assessment which will allow us to detail the plan further in a professional way. The plan will be broken into workable phases which can be prioritized accordingly.
On March 6 at the Friend’s Summit in Roscommon, the Poto MBA and Pinckney Recreation Area were awarded the opportunity to participate in the Trails-to-Table program. The Michigan DNR is partnering with New Holland Brewing Co. for the popular “Trails-to-Table” event in 2020 to highlight state park destinations and raise funds for groups’ projects. We were one of five groups across the state to be selected to partner on these events featuring curated meals, outdoor recreation, education opportunities and much more. This event is in the early planning stages, but volunteers will be required to manage ticket sales and to support the event. All proceeds from this event will support the “Potawatomi Trail – Sustainable Preservation and Improvement Plan”. The event will take place on Saturday, August 29th at Pinckney Recreation Area.
We have been awarded a second Moosejaw/Walmart Foundation Grant. This grant was for $25k. Funding from this grant will also be applied to the Poto Project. The first Moosejaw/Walmart Foundation Grant enabled us to reinforce the entrance of the Poto trail with rock armoring by utilizing Spectrum Trail Designs professional trail building services. The intent was to showcase how we can use modern trail building techniques to address erosive conditions in an effective way. Feedback has been positive.
We have applied for an MDNR Partnership Match to match the second Moosejaw/Walmart Foundation Grant as well. And, this is hot news off the presses – we received confirmation today that we were granted the 2020 Partnership Match Program Award. Another $25k! We are so excited!
We are actively seeking other funding resources to support this initiative. This will be quite the undertaking, but given the tremendous success we have had at DTE Energy Foundation Trail, we believe that it is possible to revitalize the Poto. Naming rights for donors on sections might even be a possibility. We are open to ideas!
Let’s now move to the DTE Energy Foundation Trail. Green Lake, Big Kame, Winn, and Sugar loops have been fully built out. The trail has officially opened this week, and we are all eager to get out there. It is important to understand that the trail will require continued maintenance to keep it in pristine condition. We need to protect it and it is a priority for us. Poto MBA has agreed to allocate funds for maintaining DTE Energy Foundation Trail on an annual basis. Just because the trails are built out, does not mean that our work is done. We continue to graciously accept donations to help cover this ongoing expense.
It is appropriate to now mention a recent Michigan DNR Land Use Order that has been put into place which allows the Michigan DNR to ticket trail users when the trail is officially closed. Offenders can be cited and fined up to $500. An educational approach will be favored at first, but it allows the land managers to enforce the trail closures when and where appropriate on state land. This applies to Waterloo, Pinckney, and Brighton Recreation areas, as well as other state lands in Michigan.
It’s important for us to be mindful about the damage that can be caused when trail closures are not respected. The damage results in tireless hours of volunteer led repairs and increased maintenance cost. Please do not ride during trail closures, and educate your friends as well. DTE trail closures are posted solely on the DTE Energy Foundation Trail Foundation Facebook page. Trail condition status and closures are posted by volunteers on a regular basis. Not on Facebook? You don’t need to have an account to check the status on the page. Both Poto and Brighton were closed briefly recently. These closures are new initiatives to protect the integrity of the trails. We are still working out the best way to communicate trail closures for Poto and Brighton. Look out for closures from the land managers on their respective Facebook pages (Pinckney Recreation Area and Brighton Recreation Area). Another good resource for trail closure and trail condition information is the SE Michigan Trail Conditions group on Facebook.
Another Michigan DNR Land User Order that I wanted to mention pertains to ebikes. Electric bikes (of all classes) are not permitted on MiDNR natural surface singletrack trails in Michigan, unless a land manager explicitly determines otherwise. If you see an ebike on a natural surface trail where ebikes are not permitted, report the incident to the local land manager, ranger, or conservation officer. This applies to state land (Waterloo, Pinckney, and Brighton Recreation areas, for example). Offenders can be cited and fined up to $500. Ebikes can be impounded. Many land managers are in the process of installing ebike prohibition signage.
Despite the lack of snow we received over the winter, we had very successful grooms at DTE and at Brighton. There was no shortage of people on the trails. Big thanks to Carl Loomis and Mike Balhorn for the significant amount of time they volunteered in making winter riding on our trails successful.
Nate Kearns has stepped up as Trail Committee coordinator. He will be collaborating with trail coordinators for all Poto MBA trails to understand specific trail needs, align on chapter objectives, and to encourage proper trail maintenance techniques and stewardship. I look forward to future trail days.
Now, let’s talk about membership. I’d like to give a big shout out to Doug Helland, Board Member and Membership Lead for Poto MBA. He has effectively taken initiatives to double our chapter membership, resulting in increased revenue for the chapter which allows us to continue to effectively build and maintain trails. Today, we have over 500 members in our chapter! You will see us out on the DTE trail at our membership drives later this year.
We have a small core active team in the chapter and we actively seek volunteers to help with Poto MBA objectives, initiatives, and events.
Should you have any questions/comments or interest in volunteering opportunities, please email me directly or reach out to email@example.com.
Did you know that as a member of Poto MBA, you get a Mug Club discount at Wolverine State Brewing Co.? When ordering, identify yourself as a member of the Potawatomi Mountain Bike Association and ask for the Poto member mug club discount – $1 off a mug of beer! Thanks to Wolverine State Brewing Co. for their continued sponsorship.
Upcoming Event Dates:
May 9 – Membership Drive and Skillz Clinic at DTE, Waterloo Recreation Area
June 7 – Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Brighton Recreation Area
August 29 – Trails-to-Table at Pinckney Recreation Area
September 19 – Triple Trail Challenge at Poto, Pinckney Recreation Area
October 3 – Membership Drive at DTE, Waterloo Recreation Area
October 16 – Batman Ride, Poto, Pinckney Recreation Area
October 31 – Poto Single Speed World Championship at Poto, Pinckney Recreation Area
December 12 – Abominable Snowman Ride at Poto, Pinckney Recreation Area
Now is a better time than ever to support the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association as we have a lot of exciting activities planned for 2020 and beyond. Please consider joining/renewing today by clicking here: https://www.potomba.org/membership/
Our trails are more important than ever. Take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Ride your bike. Be a trail steward. Enjoy nature. Be well.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. 🙂
Poto MBA, President
Join or renew your membership with the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association today. We build and maintain the local trails that we all love to ride. Click here to join Poto MBA.