The United Riders of Cumberland (UROC) recently entered into a partnership with the Village of Cumberland to pursue land access agreements for non-motorized recreation on private forest land surrounding the village.
The partnership will focus on developing agreements that will allow access for recreation on trails adjacent to the Village while reducing the liability risk for the landowners. Cumberland council unanimously approved the partnership at the April 22 council meeting.
“We think Cumberland has one of the best mountain bike trail networks on Vancouver Island and in the province. Those trails are shared by mountain bikers, dog walkers, hikers and runners,” said Mike Manara, UROC president.
“The Mountain Bike Tourism Association has stated that the Comox Valley is one of the few areas that could rival the mountain bike experience of the Sea to Sky Corridor, however recognized land access is currently only available through events, which limits the construction and marketing of trails. This initiative will hopefully change that.”
Working with landowners and other stakeholders to facilitate land access and to advocate for mountain biking have been in the UROC constitution since the group was formed as a registered non-profit group in 2008.
The United Riders of Cumberland first introduced the concept of a land access agreement in 2010, when they presented the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society model to Village staff. This model involves a non-profit society working with the municipality to gain land access through the transfer of risk from the landowners themselves to the non-profit.
Recognizing the importance of outdoor recreation to the community, the Village of Cumberland has been working proactively to ensure that its outdoor recreation spaces are properly managed. This led to the creation of a parks and outdoor recreation co-ordinator position at the Village in 2012. This position will play a vital role in working with UROC to help move this initiative forward.
TimberWest and Hancock Timber Resource Group, which own the majority of the private land surrounding the Village of Cumberland, have been valued partners of UROC for mountain bike events such as the BC Bike Race and the four Island Cup races that UROC holds annually.
As the process moves forward, UROC plans to engage other non-motorized user groups to gain a full perspective of the interests and needs of all parties.
UROC organizes events, group rides and other activities for mountain bikers of all ages and advocates for trails on behalf of all users. Check out www.unitedridersofcumberland.com for more info, or search them on Facebook for updates and posts.
— United Riders of Cumberland