Santa Monica Mountains Draft Trail Management Plan Released

 

smmtmp-coverOn Friday, January 31, 2014, CORBA was notified that the long-awaited Santa Monica Mountains Draft Trail Management Plan (TMP) had been released in draft form for review. In developing the plan, NPS supposedly inventoried all existing trails, including “unofficial” or “volunteer” trails, and lays out a vision for how the entire trail system will be managed going forward. The plan has been in development for more than ten years, with several false starts and periods of uncertainty due to dwindling budgets, lack of staff and other limitations. The NPS last year received a grant to complete the plan.

Now that the draft has been released, we will be going over it in detail over the coming weeks  to see whether our concerns have been given due consideration. We’d encourage everyone familiar with the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains to see if there are any trails they know of that will be affected by the proposed plan.

CORBA has a long-standing request for bicycle access to particular trails that are currently closed to bikes. Our list goes back more than two decades, but our formal requests were, at least in part, the impetus for State Parks to develop their formal Change In Use (CIU) process. So far, two trails for which we requested a change in use have been evaluated using the CIU methodology. One of those, the Canyon trail in Placerita Canyon (a State Park unit managed by L.A. County) was reviewed and opened to bikes after trail modifications were made. The other trails that were approved for a change in use have been on hold due to a lack of funds, a need for major re-routes, and pending the final release of the TMP.

We’re hoping to see the trails for which CORBA has formally requested a Change In Use, a list that goes back more than a decade, have been given due consideration in the TMP. We’re also hoping to see plans for new trails to provide better through-connectivity, including a multi-use bypass trail around the Boney Mountain State Wilderness, among other things. We’d also like to see the Backbone trail opened in its entirety, or viable multi-use singletrack alternate routes for sections that can’t or won’t be opened to bikes.

The TMP document is complex. Since the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area includes land owned by multiple agencies, it was quite an undertaking to coordinate the effort between the affected agencies: State Parks, National Park Service, Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, LA County, private landowners and others.

The plans can be downloaded for viewing at:  http://www.nps.gov/samo/parkmgmt/tmp-index.htm.  The public comment period ends on April 1st. We aim to have reviewed the documents in detail and offer our assessment and comment suggestions by the end of February.

Two Public hearings are scheduled, and we encourage anyone with an interest in the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains to attend:

February 20, 2014, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. 
King Gillette Ranch 
Dining Hall 
26800 Mulholland Highway 
Calabasas, CA 91302  
 
February 22, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Temescal Gateway Park 
Woodland Hall 
15601 Sunset Blvd. 
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 
 
 

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