I was and continue to be VERY concerned with inadequately insured trail improvement projects that leave local mountain bike clubs exposed to lawsuits and possible liability. As a BONC director, I am personally concerned with protecting my family, assets and future. Organizations like FATRAC and BONC do so much good that it would devastate the trails community to see these groups shut down because an injury that results in a lawsuit. For this reason, I have been a strong advocate for adequate insurance protection for clubs I've worked with for many years. I am also close friends with several of FATRAC's board members.
Those involved with the Scott's Flat Project know that I continue to have these concerns about liability. I brought this directly to the attention of Zachi Anderson, FTA leader in November 2011. He responded that insurance was unnecessary for such trail work (see excerpt of email below dated 11/3/11). Other colleagues of mine have heard FTA representatives also question the need for insurance.
I completely disagree with the stand that proper insurance is unnecessary. Because of my years as a bike club president and California IMBA State Representative, I know that liability for trail work with heavy equipment, axes, sharp tools, rock, etc. very much leaves us exposed to risk. I personally know of someone who was sued because of a volunteer trail lawsuit. It was a nightmare.
In 2011, FATRAC won a grant of $10,000 to improve sections of the Culvert Trail. Various professional contractors (including Randy Martin and Forest Trails Alliance) expressed interest in this paid work. Late last year, I expressed my concern to FATRAC and State Parks management that uninsured paid contract work could leave FATRAC exposed to lawsuit. I therefore urged both State Parks and FATRAC to make sure that paid contractors have proper insurance so the projects can move forward without risk. I now regret contacting State Parks directly about this because it led to a number of misunderstandings about my intentions. I also regret not making it clear to State Parks that I was not speaking on behalf of BONC, but myself; I never said I was, but I think this was taken as implied.
Last week, I contacted FATRAC leadership to address unpleasant rumors circulating in the community about me. During this call, I never mentioned insurance or spoke on behalf of BONC.
To be clear: the Culvert rehabilitation project involves paid contract work and the recipient of this money is FTA. This is not a bad thing at all, but it may shift the insurance requirements. Standard RJF (IMBA) trail volunteer insurance may not provide coverage for project partners if any payment is made beyond material reimbursement as it was to FTA. RJF is currently investigating this.
In the meantime, Forest Trails Alliance should publicly provide evidence of:
- Exactly what insurance coverage they have
- Precisely when this coverage began
EXCERPT OF EMAIL FROM ZACHI ANDERSON
"While insurance may be a good idea, this community project is just like all the trail work that has been done since I started the first bike shop in the area in 1986. No insurance demanded of volunteers. While some of our groups may have insurance, this will only cover members and not volunteers. In addition, the focus should be on good management, planning and trail building BMP as insurance does not repair wounds or injuries."