- When was the Summit Fat Tire Society Founded?
- Why was the Summit Fat Tire Society Founded?
- What’s different about the Fat Tire Society today?
- What is the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal?
- In what other initiatives has the Fat Tire Society been involved?
- Why Fat Tire Society? Aren’t there other organizations and agencies that manage trails?
- Is the Summit Fat Tire Society just for experts?
- What kind of events do you sponsor or hold?
- What ways can I get involved?
- Is my membership tax-deductible?
- Where does my membership money go?
Why was the Summit Fat Tire Society Founded?
When the Gold Flake II subdivision in Breckenridge was planned, public access to a trail (the predecessor of the present-day trail known as Moonstone) was to be preserved. However, when the developers of the property closed off access, a small group of mountain bikers attended a public planning meeting to raise the issue, ultimately winning access to an alternate trail. Through this process it became clear that many other trails they where riding were on private property and still others were becoming degraded. It became clear that there was a need for a mountain-biking focused organization to work with local government and the Forest Service to both ensure access and maintain the trails.
What’s different about the Fat Tire Society today?
The Fat Tire Society went into a quiet period as the initial leaders pursued other opportunities and challenges. In many ways, their hard work early on was so successful and other local bodies began more actively managing trails that meetings became less frequent. But the organization never went away. As rampant growth throughout Summit County over the past decade reached a peak a few years ago, more and more trails became threatened as did the issue of preservation of access in development agreements. However, it was the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal that brought about the urgent need to ramp back up the organization as there was no voice solely dedicated to mountain biking trails with the experience, knowledge and connections to represent our interests. So a few years ago, with a standing-room-only crowd at the Senior Center, the Fat Tire Society became reactivated and rededicated to mountain biking in the County.
Today, the organization is led by a volunteer board of directors from several disciplines and areas around the County, with the same mission. As we’ve not collected membership dues for several years, we are actively rebuilding our membership while still maintaining the leadership and advocacy efforts surrounding current trail issues. We maintain contact with our entire membership database and welcome back both former members and new members and ask they help us as we rebuild by joining here.
What is The Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal?
The Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal is an area encompassing land in several mountain counties that if passed by Congress, would be designated as Wilderness, which is a Federal designation that allows several uses such as hiking and equestrian use, but one that normally precludes the use of mountain bikes on any trails within its boundaries. The Hidden Gems proposal is a citizen’s initiative separate from the more standard management processes initiated by the US Forest Service, and if passed into law is would supersede those designations where they conflict. The proposal has been through many public processes and is currently open for comment. It has not been introduced into Congress at the writing of this page, however it is likely to be introduced by US Representative Jared Polis soon. You can take a look at the proposal and send your comments to Congressman Polis by visiting his website here. The Fat Tire Society continues to take a lead role through advocacy, direct interaction with the International Mountain Biking Association, local and federal elected officials, Wilderness proponents, and interested mountain bikers in crafting what are known as “companion designations” to this proposal. This would allow for strong land protection yet still preserve access for mountain biking. We remain optimistic about much of the outcomes from this process and our representatives have received much deserved credit for raising awareness on the topic as well as working proactively and respectfully with all parties.
In what other initiatives has Summit Fat Tire Society been involved?
The SFTS has worked very closely with the Forest service on their Travel Management Plan and other trail issues on USFS lands. We continue to be a vital player in the process of preserving trail access on private land as it goes through the planning process. Working with land managers and local government representatives, SFTS has the stage for many of the trails that exist on open space property. And our representatives were very involved in the Golden Horseshoe task force and master plan process that resulted in the inclusion of many new mountain biking trails. More currently, the Fat Tire Society has played a leading and active role in representing the interests of mountain bikers throughout the County on areas and trails impacted by the proposed Hidden Gems Wilderness. Many trails that have become signature trails in the county were facilitated or completely built through the efforts of the Fat Tire Society. These include:
- Juniata trail (the first one we built)
- The Blue River trail connector (second one we built)
- The Flume trails
- Oro Grande trail (between the land fill and the shooting range off of Highway 6).
- Various connectors in the Summit Cove/Soda Creek area
- The Barney Ford trail
- Morning Thunder/Pence Miller
- Horseshoe Gulch connector/trailhead (Dredge off Tiger Rd)
- Salt Lick Gulch trail system.
- Illinois Gulch (Ice Rink) trail system
Why Fat Tire Society? Aren’t there other organizations and agencies that manage trails?
Indeed there are today several organizations focused around land management in Summit County, and many of them work for improved access, facilitate trail building, and greater awareness of our surroundings. And today forward-thinking governments such as Breckenridge and Summit County dedicate a portion of their sales tax revenues solely to acquiring and managing open space parcels. Their efforts are overseen by citizen boards (Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission and the Open Space Advisory Commission) appointed by local elected officials. Other important groups such as the Friends of Dillon Ranger District (FDRD) are stewardship organizations focused on public lands managed by the US Forest Service. Friends of Breckenridge Trails is an arm of the Town of Breckenridge that oversees and coordinates trail projects within the Town using their own paid staff and volunteers.
We’re proud to have great relationships with all these organizations, and work directly with each of them in varying roles, both as a facilitating body and a clearinghouse for boots-on-the-ground volunteer projects. Bodies like the Forest Service, whose management area represents the largest land mass in Summit County, simply do not have the resources or personnel available to effectively respond to the needs of every user group. And, quite simply, the White River National Forest (our surrounding forest), is the most heavily-used forest in the country.
The USFS and these other organizations serve several different stakeholder groups and missions, from resource protection and weed control, to uses including mountain biking but extending to other uses such as winter use, hiking, heritage tourism, and equestrian activities. None are focused on solely on mountain biking. And as one of the most popular summer recreational activities in Colorado and Summit County, mountain biking as a sport and the visitation of its participants has become a relied-upon contributor to the local economy. The local population of Summit County has huge numbers of mountain bikers counted among its ranks.
Therefore, the Summit Fat Tire Society sees its role as protecting the interests of the sport and its participants while educating, facilitating, and working alongside other groups, agencies, and stakeholders. We believe all users can get along and have common interests. And more than ever, a local advocacy group for the sport also helps engage and educate riders of all abilities to respect other users and the resources in which we all recreate and rely upon. Our mantra of “Give Back. Ride. Repeat” is reinforced in everything we do, as we know our trails are precious and we should use them with care.
Is the Summit Fat Tire Society just for experts?
No! We are a diverse group riders of all ages, abilities and interests from teens to seniors, from professional racers to weekend warriors, and from cross-country riding to downhill. We have all kinds of members, from businesses in the industry, riders, to supporters who just want to support the cause with their checkbook (we love and need you all!)
What kind of events do you sponsor or hold?
Aside from our membership meetings, we facilitate, organize or participate in several trail projects throughout the year, the latest of which you can explore here. We also organize group rides throughout the year along with fun social events to help build awareness of the organization and sport or simply just get to know one another better around a common interest. We are affiliated with the International Mountain Biking Association and help raise awareness and interest of the sport throughout the County and beyond.
- Financially, your membership contribution, whether it is a basic, single contribution or more, enables us to operate the organization effectively. Click here to join.
- By volunteering for trail projects that either the SFTS organizes, or projects organized by our partner groups that the SFTS supports.
- Participating in social events and group rides. It’s the membership that makes these things fun!
- By serving on committees, or on the board of directors or advisory board
- Volunteering at other events such as group rides or outreach efforts
- Subscribing to our newsletter, Paying attention to access alerts, being informed, and participating in letter writing campaigns, etc.
- By being being a good steward of the trails, respectful other users and your surroundings, and encouraging your riding partners to be the same.
Where does my membership money go?
At present, the SFTS is an all volunteer organization. We strive to be a lean organization and achieve the highest “value” rating of a non-profit by putting most of the dollars right back into the field. Money is needed to finance materials for trail improvements such as the durable bridges on the Peaks, Spruce Creek, and Blue River trails, the acquisition and maintenance of our tool cache, support and facilitation of our trails projects (food, water, and organization), outreach, social and awareness events and communication that serve our mission.
Have a question we didn’t answer here? Send it to us and we’ll likely put it here for others.