Land Management Committee
Focuses on “Vietnam”
by Mitchell Steinberg (SingleTracks #74, 2004)
accomplishing the incredible feat of becoming the first mountain
bike group to purchase and own property, many folks are wondering
what's going on with Vietnam. Here’s an update about what
we’ve been doing, and a glimpse into where we are going
with the property.
A Brief History
In the fall of 2003, as NEMBA's purchase of the Liner property
seemed imminent, the NEMBA Board of Directors decided it would
be a good idea to put together a land management committee to
oversee Vietnam. It quickly became evident that even before
a land management committee could be assembled, some thought
needed to go into just what this committee would do, who would
be on it, how they would be selected, and how this committee
would interact with the NEMBA BOD. So, in the fall of 2003,
the Vietnam Land Management Steering Committee was born made
up of a group of NEMBA BOD members. This group put together
a "guiding principles" document that built upon work
that had been done by the original major donors to the Vietnam
Land Preservation Fund and also a document answering many of
the above questions regarding how the VLMC would operate. Additionally,
an outline for an overall land management plan was produced.
In November, 2003, the NEMBA BOD accepted the proposals, appointed
Mitch Steinberg Vietnam Land Management chairperson, and the
search for an actual land management committee began.
After discussions with a number of riders who frequently ride
Vietnam and live within a reasonably close distance, five people
were selected. In Jan, 2004, the current makeup of the VLMC
was blessed by the NEMBA BOD, and in February, 2004, the VLMC
had their first meeting. The VLMC consists of Mitchell Steinberg,
Dan Ibbitson, John Goeller ("Splat" for those of you
hardcore NEMBA forum folks), John Vosburg, and Pete Long with
considerable input from NEMBA's fearless leader, Philip Keyes.
Collectively, the group represents a variety of riding styles
and brings a range of experience such as trail maintenance expertise
and environmental knowledge. John G. and John V. live in Holliston
(one of our neighboring land owners), and everyone on the committee
rides frequently at Vietnam. Dave Mitchell, a Milford resident,
will be joining the committee to help act as a liason to this
What's happening now?
Over the last few months, the committee has discussed a number
of topics and is focused on putting together short term and
long term goals for managing the property. The number one short
term goal has been to work the political channels with the Holliston
and Milford Conservation Committees and establish ourselves
as "good neighbors." One of the problems that we face
as mountain bikers is that we're still somewhat the "new
kids on the block," and our neighboring land owners are
taking a bit of a "wait and see" attitude regarding
us. It's essential that we prove that we're responsible and
will be good stewards of the land. While we now own about 47
acres, the total Vietnam area consists of about 1000 acres,
so it's imperative that we present a good image so that we can
continue to ride the entire area. Also, since NEMBA's property
is land locked, access is only through our neighbors' properties.
As for other short term goals, you will soon see some "no
motor vehicles" signs appearing at various entry points.
Working with the Holliston Conservation Committee, John Vosburg
(now a member of the Holliston Open Space Committee) has begun
the process of identifying vernal pools on the NEMBA property.
In the background, we're also working on a longer term land
management plan to be presented to the NEMBA BOD to help set
the overall direction and agenda for managing the property.
We'd also like this to be a model that we can bring to some
of the other land owners so that we can help formulate a more
comprehensive plan for the overall area.
The really fun part of owning the property-managing the trail
system, rerouting and/or installing new trails-has barely begun.
Now that spring has arrived and we're out riding the trails
again, we will start taking a look and soliciting ideas on ways
to improve and enhance the trail system itself. We will probably
not be doing any major trail work until this fall, after we've
had a chance to think through a number of options. Ultimately,
we'd like to see a comprehensive trail system with perhaps some
signs at key intersections, but this will take a coordinated
effort with our neighbors.
Here are some of the other things that we're starting to address.
We will be increasing communication with the mountain bike community
through SingleTracks articles like this, website postings, etc.
There have been requests for guided rides for folks who are
not familiar with the property but would like to ride there,
so we will probably put some rides together for the summer.
In general, this has been and will continue to be a learning
experience for all of us. Since no other mountain bike group
has bought and managed land before, there's not much precedent
to follow. So, if you have any questions or ideas, send an email
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to read the Vietnam