May 28, 2004 - Vietnam Update (or, now that we bought the land, what’s up?)
NEMBA Land Management Committee
After 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. Well, here’s a little history and the current status
of Vietnam management.
NEMBA Land Management Committee (from left to right):
John Goeller, John Vosburg, Dan Ibbitson, Mitch Steinberg.
Not shown are: Pete Long and Dave Mitchell.
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 would this committee interact with the
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.
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. We’re starting
to put together a list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) based on the
questions that many people are asking regarding parking, maps, 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
John Vosburg, and we’ll do our best to respond.
See you on the trails.