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IMBA Announces Spring 2019 Trail Accelerator Grants

IMBA Trail Accelerator

Awardees of IMBA Trail Accelerator grants provide matching funds and receive professional trail planning and consultation services from IMBA Trail Solutions to launch trail development efforts. Photo courtesy IMBA

Editor’s Note: This post was written by IMBA’s Eleanor Blick. The original post can be found at

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is pleased to award its second round of Trail Accelerator grants to four recipients. IMBA’s Trail Accelerator grant fund is a competitive grant offering for communities with visions of transformational model trail systems that need extra support to realize that vision.

Awardees provide matching funds and receive professional trail planning and consultation services from IMBA Trail Solutions to launch trail development efforts, which can often help leverage more interest and investment for community trail projects. Projects must show strong partnerships between local leaders, government entities, land managers, property owners, community groups and IMBA Local groups.

“These communities exemplify the partnerships that are key to every successful mountain bike trail, and we are thrilled to work with them to provide these projects with a professional plan,” said Dave Wiens, IMBA Executive Director. “Our Trail Accelerator Grants are a critical step in IMBA’s efforts to make sure everyone has easy access to great mountain bike trails. These trail plans can be the catalyst that secures more support for a project and ultimately helps transform a community through trails.”

All four projects will bring more trails close to home for the local community. This increased local access will offer health benefits to residents and serve many local National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) teams. Several of the selected projects have opportunities to expand into larger, destination-worthy trail systems. The four projects awarded Trail Accelerator Grants include:

Erwin Utilities Watershed Property in Erwin, Tennessee

This grant will plan the first developed bike park in East Tennessee’s Unicoi County. With increasing trail development in surrounding communities, the new tiered, multi-loop park aims to feed into the vast expanses of the Cherokee National Forest as well as link trails from Unicoi to the trails in surrounding counties. Another primary goal of the project is to promote inclusion by providing beginner-friendly and progressive trails. Erwin is investing in bikes by prioritizing trail and street infrastructure and welcoming new businesses that cater to riders. Located just blocks away from the local high school and downtown, the bike park site will continue connecting the local community with the trails that surround them.

Wilkins Branch Mountain Bike Park in Franklin, Tennessee

The Wilkins Branch project grant will plan Williamson County’s first mountain bike trails and a skills park for riders. The county is home to five NICA teams who currently have to travel outside of the area to practice and compete due to a lack of trails close to home. The creation and building of these mountain bike trails will also help restore and protect a currently harmed natural landscape. Williamson County borders Davidson County and Nashville, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The project site is located in Leiper’s Fork community, adjacent to the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway.

Swanson Bike Park in Bellevue, Nebraska

This multi-phase bike park plan will serve the growing East Nebraska and Western Iowa region with the creation of a progressive mountain bike skills park. Bellevue boasts more than 600 acres of parks, including popular mountain bike trails in Swanson Park and Jewell Park, and connects regionally to 130 miles of paved trail. The new park’s features, skills areas and other amenities will enhance the local mountain biking experience and will compliment Nebraska State Parks’ “Venture Parks” plan, which aims to get more kids learning outside and families enjoying the outdoors.

Madison Bicycle Adventure Trail Network in Madison, Wisconsin

This project will aid the Madison’s 2018-2023 Parks & Open Space Plan by planning a network of connecting mountain bike trails throughout the city. Madison has 270 parks and 98% of residents live within a half mile of public greenspace, but the city only has one mile of mountain bike trail. The plan aims to put trails close to home in communities across the city, while also connecting riders to existing trail systems in nearby Verona, Fitchburg and Middleton. The project will also greatly benefit Madison’s three NICA teams, who anticipate increased participation and rider diversity when practices can be held nearby.

The next application period for Trail Accelerator grants will be in fall 2019. IMBA thanks the Walton Family Foundation for underwriting the program and REI for its support. Interested applicants can learn more about grant criteria and eligibility on the IMBA grant webpage. Read about the progress of current Trail Accelerator Grant recipients on the IMBA blog.

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