VMBA BOD Update

March 1 - April 9

The last six weeks have been very productive. I'll attempt to briefly summarize our progress and highlight upcoming important items.


THE STATE

* Shifts in Act 250 potentially will benefit VMBA and our chapters a great deal.

* Craig Whipple & Ed O'Leary accepted VMBA onto the Trails & Greenways Council

* RTP funding requirements have shifted in a huge way - now requiring a 10-year easement from all landowners if public funds are to be utilize for major maintenance or new construction projects. This is a major issue for VMBA moving forward and further highlights the need for public land access.

* There will be no RTP funding cycle this year.

* I suggested a 10-year development plan with the state a few months back. Craig Whipple & Ed O'Leary are willing to entertain the possibility. This is a huge opportunity for VMBA to secure trails on public land.

* I met with Fish & Wildlife on March 28th to discuss access issues. The committee in general was tentative, but is not saying no to future access. It seems they have been "burned" by MTBers in the past. Our relationship with them will not grow quickly.

* I met with The Barre District management team to discuss new projects in the Stowe/Waterbury area. The committee was impressed with VMBA's new direction. An introduction will be facilitated with all District Coordinators to develop strategic plans in each area throughout Vermont with chapter presidents involvement.

* VMBA's funding was "removed" from the Dept. of Tourism's wish list. VMBA has spent time at the statehouse and had the opportunity to speak with Jane Kitchel, the chair of the appropriations committee. Email corespondents have taken place and a final answer has not been shared. Megan Smith assured me, "the money will be there." I have total faith that she will come through.

* The mid-year state performance review was submitted to Megan Smith, which should lead to another disbursement this month of approx. $4500. The review will be uploaded to the GDocs page.


VMBA PARTNERS

* VMBA enjoyed a successful "Green Drinks" event in Burlington last month. Approx. 75 people attended and learned a lot about VMBA. Good connections were made.

* VMBA has started developing a partnership with American Flatbread.

* 1% For the Planet highlighted VMBA in a blog recently.

* Long Trail Brewery has agreed to plant VMBA info cards in six-packs in twenty towns throughout Vermont during April and May. The cards send customers to vmba.org/membership.

* VT Peanut Butter has continued to be a valuable relationship. Chris Kieser will attend advisory council meeting to promote special chapter trail days. The idea is to inspire more riders to spend more time investing in trail maintenance.

* The Skinny Pancake has come on as a partner - we're excited about this! They provide huge access to like-minded people throughout Chittenden County and beyond. VMBA is likely to become their 1% For the Planet partner.


VMBA ADMIN

* Through working with the state, documents have been developed to assist chapters in accurately interpreting the rules attached to Act 250 and RTP funding. These documents will be shared at the advisory council meeting.

* The web site has realized big upgrades over the past six weeks.

* Membership is rolling along - we're up to 50+ members. We need 800 this year.

* I have prepared the federal filing paperwork for the group status. At present I'm waiting for the accountant to get past the 15th of this month.

* VMBA.org is ready and able to handle all membership for all chapters that are interested.

* Hardy and Brooke have begun developing the Trail Clinic curriculum.

* The Trails Grant deadline is going to be moved to May 15th (originally April 15th).

* Louise and I have developed an ambassador program to assist VMBA in spreading the word about membership and the macro-level value of VMBA. This will launch very soon.

* The VMBA coupon book has provided many learning opportunities. After fixing a few snags we are on the press and will be mailing the first round of books on Friday.

* I will be hitting the road visiting shops and spreading the word about VMBA membership and the ambassador program on the 19th and 22nd.

* A new page has been created on the web site listing important documents for chapters. This page will be password protected after the advisory council meeting.

* Two new chapters have confirmed they desire to be included - Plainfield and Craftsbury. This is in addition to Melo Velo and a strong possibility with the West Hill shop in Putney - we're growing!


FESTIVAL

* The festival planning is going well.

* Sponsorship continues to be a challenge - Skinny Pancake will likely provide the onsite food.

* Registration is open: www.vmba.org/festival - Two people have registered.


CONCERNS/NEED HELP

* The new rules attached to RTP funds may be a tough hurdle for VMBA. 10-year easements will be tricky to obtain. This will not lead to the loss of trails. However, it may lead to trails not receiving the attention they need if expensive infrastructure is required. This leaves funding trails on private land without a 10-year easement up to chapters. Ideally, VMBA's Trail Grant will be used for public access trail resources - do we withhold this money without an easement like the state has??

* Any and all avenues to promote VMBA membership must be utilized. I need every contact and feasible idea the BOD has to capture attention of as many people as possible.

* I have been sent and found multiple small grant opportunities. I appreciate receiving these very much. That said, finding the time to develop these is difficult. Are there BOD members that would have an interest in putting 2 hrs. a month into developing small grant opportunities for VMBA?


IMPORTANT DATES

* April 18th - Advisory Council Meeting, Montpelier 6:45 PM, 45 Court St.

* April 21st - Gravel Grinder, Stowe

* April 28th - VMBA BOD retreat, agenda and supporting documents will be sent in advance.


Thanks everyone. Please be in touch if you have questions.


Tom