Angeles National Forest Land Management Plan Ammendment Comments

We recently put out an alert  about court-ordered changes to the Land Management Plans for our four Southern California National Forests. We’ve now attended the public meetings, pored over maps and GIS data and have put together our official comments on the plan, available as a PDF, and copied below.

IMBA has recently put out an action alert and petition to preserve mountain bike access to all existing multi-use trails in our four National Forests. We encourage everyone to sign the petition.

In the Angeles National Forest the only area in which we see the potential for problems is the proposed change of the Salt Creek and Fish Canyon Inventoried Roadless Areas into the combined Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness (RW).  The Golden Eagle trail is an extremely popular, well-documented trail used frequently by bicycles. It is not on any forest service maps and is not an offiicial forest service trail, though it has existed for at least 25 years. We would of course like to see this brought into the trail inventory, and excluded from any recommended wilderness. The trail lies outside the RW, except for one section where it is impossible to tell from the data supplied whether it touches the RW boundary, or crosses it.  We would like to see the boundary adjusted to provide a reasonable buffer between this trail and the RW.

Similar incursions into or across the RW boundaries appear to occur on the fire roads to Knapp Ranch and Atmore Meadows. They are probably just anomalies of the scale of maps used and data supplied, but must be clarified to be sure these fire roads are outside any RW.

The RW includes several miles of singletrack trails that have a history of bicycle access. These include the Burnt Peak Canyon trail and Fish Canyon trail. However, both of these trails are in a dilapidated state and have seen very little use by bicycles, or other users for that matter. In his 1990 guidebook to the area, Mike Troy describes the Fish Canyon trail (16W05) as a difficult hike a bike and the trail as unmarked and difficult to follow. The Burnt Peak Canyon trail, on the other hand, is described as a fun, non-technical double-track.  We will endeavor to gather more data about the existing conditions of these trails, but for the moment we are asking that they be left as Backcountry Non-Motorized (BCNM) rather than RW.

While we support the ongoing preservation of our remaining open space and prevention of future disruptive development or extractive use of the land, trails are a limited resource and losing trails reduces our future options for recreational access. A RW designation will make these trails more difficult to restore or maintain, and we risk losing them forever.

We encourage everyone to send comments via email to socal_nf_lmp_amendment@fs.fed.us or snail mail to: Attn: LMP Amendment, Cleveland National Forest, 10845 Rancho Bernardo Road, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127-2107.

CORBA’s submitted comments follow the break.

 

June 6, 2012

Bob Hawkins <socal_nf_lmp_amendment@fs.fed.us>
Attn: LMP Amendment
Cleveland National Forest
10845 Rancho Bernardo Road, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92127-2107

Re: 2012 SoCal National Forest Land Management Plan Amendements

Dear Mr. Hawkins et al,

CORBA, the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association, a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, have examined the supplied data for Land Managment Plan amendments for the Angeles National Forest and attended two of the public meetings about the same. We appreciate the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed amendments to the Land Management Plan for the Angeles National Forest.

With regards to the expansion of the Non-Motorized Backcountry zone along the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, we are pleased to see that the zone’s expansion does not include the Rincon-Redbox fire road and the West Fork fire road through to its junction with the Rincon Redbox road. It is unclear from the supplied data whether access to Pine Mountain is impacted, though it appears that the fire road to the summit of Pine Mountain is in fact along the border of this designated area. Our concern is that the data used to determine the expansion of the BCNM area may be as old as the 1970’s and we want to ensure that the legal boundaries do in fact exclude these popular fire roads based on on-the-ground data.

For the proposed Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness Area we do see potential problems. The most popular singletrack trail for cyclists in the area to the immediate north of the proposed RW is the Golden Eagle trail. This trail appears in a 1990 guidebook to mountain bike trails, and has been in continuous use since long before then. It does not appear on the forest service map, though the trail is popular, very well maintained and is in constant use by bicycles. It begins near the summit of Liebre Mountain at the junction with the Horse Trail Camp double track and 7N23. It parallels 7N23 to the north of the fire road, then crosses 7N23 where it veers close to the boundary of the proposed RW, before crossing 7N23 once again and continuing northwest towards the Historic Sandberg Inn site. Where the trail appears to cross or come close to the proposed boundary is around 34°43’11.43″N 118°40’38.51″W. The RW must be adjusted to exclude this trail, and the process to bring this trail into the FS official trail inventory should be begun. Following is a graphic showing the area of concern.

The fire road to Atmore Meadow (7N19) has been “cherry-stemmed” out of the proposed recommended wilderness, but on the supplied data and maps displayed at the public meetings, it appears that the road does in fact veer across the proposed border and into the RW area at one point. We believe the intention is to exclude these fire roads. Any RW designation’s boundaries must be refined based on current on-the-ground data to be sure to exclude such roads, rather than from surveys and data that may be decades old. The same applies for the access road to Knapp Ranch (7N22), with the road appearing to veer in and out of the proposed RW area in some locations on the supplied maps.

There has been historic use of the Fish Canyon (16W05) and Burnt Peak Canyon (16W02) trails by bicycles as far back as the 1980’s. They are in fact described in great detail in a 1990 guide book to mountain bike trails as a loop southwest on 16W02 from 7N23A, then north on 16W05 to Atmore Meadows. Though our understanding is that these trails are in a dilapidated state and have seen little to no maintenance or use, we are opposed to closing them to bicycles forever with a RW designation. We would prefer to see these two trails retain a Backcountry Non-Motorized designation and be cherry-stemmed out of the RW proposal. We would also like to see more current on-the-ground data regarding the condition of these trails and their viability for restoration. It is our fear that with a RW designation that no further maintenance will take place and the trails may be lost forever to all users.

We are pleased to see that the most popular bicycle routes along Fish Canyon – Warm Springs fire road (7N22), Warm Springs trail (16W12), Warm Springs Divide (7N13) and the Elderberry Forebay (6N13) will see no changes under the new management plans.

At this time we are not making any comments on the San Bernadino, Cleveland or Los Padres National Forests. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding these comments.

 

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