Yesterday we made the painful announcement that Lost and Found 2020 is now canceled to protect the safety of citizens and visitors to the Portola, CA area in early June. We responded to the urging of local public health officials that the COVID-19 pandemic will not have resolved enough to make this event possible. Today we say a big Thank You for the overwhelmingly supportive messages received when we made the initial announcement on April 8. We are looking ahead, with high expectations for a great Lost and Found 2021.
We are asked why not move Lost and Found later in the year? Two reasons: (1) there is no realistic place on the compressed 2020 cycling calendar to move this event, especially considering our high-altitude cold weather location; and (2) Lost and Found is managed by the same small staff that brings you the Downieville Classic, and this year’s introduction of Mountains to Meadows, formerly Grinduro Quincy.
The cancelation is disappointing and challenging for the participants, and it is devastating for Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) not only because of all the hard work our staff, partners and volunteers put into the Lost and Found event, but also because of the financial implications to SBTS, the community of Portola, and the greater Lost Sierra region. What started on the shores of Lake Davis in 2014 with 200 participants has grown into an extended family of 2,000 participants bringing much needed positive energy and economic stimulus to Plumas County. Through good times with good people, the funds raised from Lost and Found go back to SBTS, helping fund new trail projects for the public to enjoy – also known as #dirtmagic – while providing critically important employment and local jobs.
Certainly this was not an easy decision to make, but our mountain communities are fragile, with an older population and no immediate care in the area. Public gatherings are not what the Lost Sierra needs at this time, so please, we are urging everyone considering a visit to the mountains to stay home. The mountains will always be here, and we can’t wait until this passes so that we can once again welcome everyone with open arms. But right now, the maintained health of our local community is the top priority.
We’ve been asked why the Lost and Found 2020 registration fees aren’t being refunded. For SBTS as a 501c3 non-profit, the event cancelation is a serious economic hardship. We fully understand the gravity of COVID-19 caused job losses, including layoffs within our own staff ranks that have already occurred due to the pandemic. For this grassroots non-profit facilitating recreation and events while providing jobs in economically depressed communities, refunding the event registration fees would lead to the end of SBTS as an organization. We run a lean, fiscally prudent operation, and dollars earned through our events are redeployed into the community through local jobs.
This race festival takes ten months to produce, and a majority of the expenses across staffing, security, sanitation, race timing, food and more have already been paid. There are no refunds available from the local supporting companies, as they are also reeling from no-gatherings realities. With each of our race events including Lost and Found 2020, we have always stated on the event websites and at time of registration that the races will be held rain, shine, sleet or snow. In the event of extreme weather or natural disaster, the event may be shortened, postponed or canceled without refund. This pandemic, in light of public safety concerns and the protection of our fellow human beings, is a disaster. The current situation of abiding by the governments’ directive to stop large public gatherings is the first time we have had to cancel a race event and enforce the no refund policy. We battled through a wildfire and snowstorm to make the Grinduro event happen in 2019, so we don’t give up easily.
Registrants of the Lost and Found 2020 will be provided with ‘Priority Registration’ and receive a code for use before general public registration goes live to secure your spot in the 2021 edition of the Lost and Found. Racers will also receive a discount code for 25% off the Lost and Found 2021 registration fees and first dibs at camping registration as well before those reservations open. This discount is a ‘pay-it-forward’ approach reflecting an equitable offset of dollars already spent on the 2020 event that will no longer happen. As a 501c3, SBTS will provide every event registrant with a charitable contribution receipt, along with Lost and Found event socks.
On behalf of the SBTS Board of Directors and our hardworking staff, we sincerely hope this message finds you and your family well. Times like these are a reminder of what’s truly important in life: our personal health and caring for one another. Your support and understanding will help SBTS weather this storm of uncertainty and hopefully remain intact so that we can once again gather the Tribe in celebration of life and sweet Sierra singletrack.
Looking forward to seeing you in Portola in June 2021.
SBTS Executive Director