Recommended Wilderness Proposals in our National Forests

In response to a lawsuit, the four Southern California Forests are proposing amendments to their 2006 plans. They are proposing new Backcountry Non Motorized Recreation zones as well as new Recommended Wilderness designations. Several mountain bikers attended the informational workshop at the Angeles National Forest Headquarters on May 30, along with concerned forest users, and many from groups like the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and others.

In the Angeles National Forest there is a recommended Salt Canyon, Fish Creek roadless areas were combined to create a 40,000 acre Recommended Fish Creek Wilderness in an area that was Backcountry Non-Motorized. It is now Forest Service policy that a Recommended Wilderness designation will be managed as if it were wilderness and the area will be closed to bikes.

Concerns have been raised about the status of several significant nearby trails that bicyclists ride. We’re happy to report that the Golden Eagle Trail and the Warm Springs/Elderberry Forebay/Fish Canyon fire road Loop are unaffected by this proposal. Wilderness boundaries have been drawn with “cherry stems,” areas of non-wilderness along the existing fire road corridors. the same has been done for the Burnt Peak fire road.

We do have concerns about the Fish Canyon Trail (1GW05) and the Burnt Peak Trail (1GW02). These run generally north-south right in the middle of what would be the new Wilderness. We heard from several people that these trails may be overgrown and quite deteriorated. We need to know if riders have ridden them and are currently riding them. Despite their current condition, if they go into Wilderness, bikes will be excluded and the trails will likely never be restored due to Wilderness Trail maintenance issues. We might lose a significant future opportunity for a ride in a wild landscape. If you have information about these trails, let Steve Messer (steve@corbamtb.com) and Jim Hasenauer (imbajim@aol.com) know.

There are also many changes including Recommended Wilderness Proposals in the Cleveland National Forest, the Los Padres National Forest, and the San Bernadino National Forest. Unfortunately for those who visit all four forests, only the Angeles National Forest proposed management plan revisions were available for review at last night’s event.  If you are concerned about changes in other forests, it will be necessary to meetings. Mountain bike advocates are monitoring the meetings and will soon have talking points for your comments. The deadline for comments is June 11, 2012.

Information about the Forest Manamagement Plan revision process is at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=35130

CORBA”s first comment is that the online data supplied is not of sufficient detail or quality to make informed decisions about any new proposed changes in the management plans for the forests. Without real data that we can zoom in on (digitally) and use with the mapping and GIS tools with which we’re familiar, it is impossible to see what areas and trails may be affected in the detail needed to make informed comments. We’d like to see KML or Shapefiles that can be used with the most popular mapping tools for this, and any future NEPA or CEQA documents.

Though we don’t know the current state or conditions of the Fish Canyon and Burnt Peak singletracks, we would like to see the boundaries adjusted to allow continued bicycle access to these trails. We’ll formulate our final comments after we gather more information on these and other affected trails.  Deadline for comments in June 11.

The current designation: Backcountry non-motorized:

The proposed Recommended Wilderness (in dark green):

 

Remaining meetings are scheduled as follows:

 

• May 31,2012, 4:00PM to 7:00PM, Santa Maria Red Cross, 3030 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455 (Hosted by Los Padres National Forest)
• May 31, 2012, 4:00PM to 7:00PM, Santa Clara Mojave Rivers Ranger District Office, 33708 Crown Valley Road, Acton, CA 93510
• May 31,2012,4:00 PM to 7:00PM, San Bernardino National Forest Headquarters, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92408.
• May 31, 2012,4:00 PM to 7:00PM, Palomar RangerDistrictOffice, 1634 Black Canyon Road, Ramona, CA 92065 ·
• June 1, 2012, 1:00PM to 4 PM, Frazier Park Library, 3732 Park Drive, Frazier Park, CA 93225 (Hosted by Los Padres National Forest)
• June 5, 2012, 4:00PM to 7:00PM, Descanso Ranger District office, 3348 AlpineB!vd, Alpine, CA 91901
• June 5, 2012,4:00 PM to 7:00PM, Trabuco Ranger District office, 1147 E. 6th Street, Corona, CA 92879

 

 

 

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