Ybarra receives state’s Trailblazer Award
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City man, who almost single-handedly turned the once overgrown Maah Daah Hey Trail into a nationally-recognized bike trail, has been honored by the state of North Dakota.
Nick Ybarra, who received the Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation, was one of five North Dakotans honored during the North Dakota Travel Industry Conference in Fargo on April 17.
Ybarra first fell in love with the trail, which runs from the CCC Campground south of Watford City to Medora, in 2008. What he found on the Maah Daah Hey was beauty, adventure and a release from stress and worries. It was mountain biking through the Badlands that instilled in him a love, respect and connection to the rugged and peaceful land.
But the trail, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, soon after began falling into disrepair.
“Back then I rode the trail on a weekly, if not daily, basis,” stated Ybarra. “But by 2009, the trail was starting to fade and by 2011, it was pretty well overgrown.”
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