New machine means happy trails for JORBA


JORBA: Chimney Rock, Team MTBNJ.COM
Team MTBNJ Halter's
New machine means happy trails for JORBA
Sunday, December 16, 2007
For the Star-Ledger

Christmas is almost here, but for Jeffrey Mergler and the other mountain bike aficionados in the Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association (JORBA), the best presents won't come until this summer.

That's when JORBA expects to obtain a Ditch Witch or other type of motorized trailbuilding machine. The machine is just one of many tools JORBA will be buying in the coming months thanks to being awarded $45,990 worth of federal grant money this year.

Mergler, executive director of the non-profit, statewide organization, said he already knows the first places the new machine will go. "Allamuchy State Park and Stephen State Park are going be our first focus," he said. "There is a lot of land there that has great potential. Those are the first places we'll put that machine this summer."

Mergler, a 41-year-old who has been hooked on mountain biking since 1998 (a year before JORBA was formed), gets a little giddy thinking about the great trail work that can be done with the type of walk-behind machines being purchased.

"It will have a 6-way adjustable blade, like on a snowplow, that's about three feet wide," he said. "It's kind of like a little bulldozer, and it comes with a bucket loader as well, so you can haul dirt around. We can use it to build a lot of really good trails really fast."

Money for the machine will come out of a $24,250 grant, part of about $2 million awarded to various organizations in the state as part of the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program.

A separate, $21,740 grant to JORBA will be used to pay for other trailbuilding equipment, including chainsaws, a heavy-duty brush-trimmer and an assortment of hand tools, said Mergler.

One caveat facing JORBA is the fact that the organization must first buy the equipment, with its own funds. Once that happens, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will issue reimbursements from the grant money.

The arrangement creates a bit of a hardship for JORBA. Although the group has about 500 members -- most being members of mountain biking clubs that are affiliated with JORBA -- it doesn't have much of a budget.

"We're just a small, little non-profit," said Mergler. "We have to go buy things and then get reimbursed after the fact. The state doesn't just hand over the money. We'll probably be doing some out of pocket purchasing."

The new grants are not the first for JORBA. Mergler said the organization received about $8,000 last year and is still using the money to buy hand tools for its trail maintenance efforts.

All trail work done by JORBA is approved by the superintendents of the county and state parks where it occurs. Mergler also said all trail work is done in accordance with the time-tested standards and guidelines of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Mergler hopes that better trails will draw more people to the sport he loves.

"I ride several times a week," he said. "I absolutely love it. It's become a lifestyle of mine. I'm a true believer that mountain biking is a good activity for the whole family for exercise and, honestly, for sanity."

NJ Jess

Active Member
So who has a JORBA membership?

I got mine. The more the merrier. Think of it as a Christmas present to yourself. In supporting JORBA we are "buying" more mountain biking trails!!! Buying a membership is an easy way to show your support even if you can't get out to Trail Maintenance days. Heck, let the machine do your share,...guilt-free!
Very excited.

This is gonna have a real positive impact on our trail systems for all the users.

Amongst the many uses, the ability to revitalize and repair some of the non-to borderline sustainable sections of old trails we have will help make them as enjoyable as the new well planned stuff that's been put in.

We will have to keep in mind that our shovels won't start collecting dust, though that'd be nice... lol.

This is gonna be good.

Allamuchy Joe

Not White House Approved
Does anyone have a picture of the trail machine? Just curious as to what it looks like and its general dimensions.
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