Trail Fund NZ is a recently-launched initiative which will be supporting trail building and maintenance activities all over New Zealand. It's supported and run by a group of dedicated trail builders, and today we caught up with Ben Wilde to talk about what the project is and why it's going to be important for the trails you love.
How did the trail fund come about?
Trail Fund NZ is the result of work that Mountain Bike New Zealand (MTBNZ) and others have been doing over the past couple years to find a model for supporting sustainable trails in New Zealand. But it has been set up as an independent entity because we all felt strongly it needed a life of its own outside existing structures.
So what is the goal of the Trail Fund?
It’s all about supporting the development and maintenance of publicly accessible, environmentally sensitive and sustainable mountain-bike accessible trails in New Zealand. And when we think of ‘trails’ we’re not just thinking singletrack (both dual use and mountain bike specific) but also pump tracks, dirt jumps and skills areas etc.
Why don't I just donate to my local trail building crew?
You should, and if that's all you can spare then you've done your bit. However if you can support Trail Fund NZ as well then our model is to go find commercial dollars to match individual contributions. We will take your $1 and work damn hard to make sure it gets turned into $2, or more, through matching funds from commercial sources. That's the goal and we already have some funding from MTBNZ, commercial partners and larger individual donors to help kick that off. Our model will be that half goes to a region you nominate and half goes into a national fund that regions can also apply for funding out of, be used for helping put on training events, deliver on the ground help etc. So we think that local is key but it can't just be about our own backyards, we're all going to benefit from a wider networks of mountain bike and dual use trails across the country, hence the local / national dual model.
Isn't this just another cycling bureaucracy?
Quite the opposite, we've set this up outside of existing structures because we want it lean, mean and autonomous from any broader agenda in the sport. Very quickly last year the new 2012 / 2013 MTBNZ executive team made the call that this needed to be independent from the existing structures around mountain biking in particular and cycling in general. But it is important that there is some coordination at the national level especially when it comes to trying to raise more substantial sums of money longer term. So there is lots to be gained from regions working together and that means some sort of coordination at this national level.
I already build trails in my city. What does Trail Fund NZ bring to the party?
Three things: Fundraising, education and marketing. In terms of raising money, we’re going to get out there and seek to raise more funds than would otherwise be the case. In particular by tapping into larger sources of commercial funding that might not be accessible to individual or smaller projects. We are also going to be adapting and delivering training materials and on the ground assistance (similar to what IMBA do with their Trail Care Crews). The outcome we hope will be we all get even better at building awesome trails. The third part of this is marketing. That’s both telling the story of why trails are important, to not just mountain bikers but everyone (health, social connection, quality of life etc.) as well as creating a brand that makes people want to give time, money or other forms of support towards trail development.
There's some mint track close to me that is closed to mountain bikers. Can you help me get access to it?
Maybe, and we can definitely help you figure out the process you'll need to follow or find someone who can help you. First point of call should be your local mountain bike club and we can help you find that if you don’t know how.
So this all sounds great - more money, more advice and visibility. What's next? How do I get involved?
Right now as we work through the process of becoming a registered charity there are some things that you can do to help:
(2) Consider buying one of our T-shirts via the website: http://trailfund.org.nz/?p=345 The first batch is being ordered this weekend so get in quick!
(3) Get involved in a local digging project if you haven't already. Trail Fund NZ needs projects that we can give money to with volunteers who can make use of tools / materials etc. that we will be funding, so get out there and get involved! If you don’t know how or who mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find out for you.