There was no dedicated photographer available for the August Skills Clinic in Malibu Creek State Park so Mark took some himself whenever he could. That ended up being just for the rocky stream crossing. You can see the photos in the August 2014 photo gallery.
Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category
Just two weeks ago the public learned of a movement to have the San Gabriel Mountains declared a National Monument. The news came as a surprise, and we had little time to look deeper into what this meant. Last week’s public meeting did serve one purpose well, to get the discussion–and the emotions–going. The sudden announcement caught everyone’s attention, all the way up to the Undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture. This meant that it was happening quickly, and the process was already underway. It’s in all our best interest to be a part of that process, whether or not the final outcome is a new National Monument.
Since last week’s public meeting, we’ve had time to begin a dialog with conservationists and other stakeholders and to do some research of our own. We now understand the Forest Service would continue to manage the land under a National Monument designation. We learned that recently declared For Ord National Monument has language specifically mentioning bicyclists as legitimate trail users, and directs that bicycles are accommodated in a transportation/trail plan. This is an extremely positive precedent which encourages us. We’ve had several verbal assurances that mountain biking access would not be impacted, and that similar language could be developed for this proposal.
As we begin to be involved in the development of that language, we are working with our fellow chapters, IMBA staff, and other stakeholders to ensure our continued ability to ride mountain bikes on the trails and fire roads we love, and to improve overall conditions in the forest (through better protections and additional funding). A well-written National Monument proclamation and any additional funding it brings may be preferable to the Angeles NF continuing to be underfunded and understaffed, or even a wilderness bill that would close off access to trails.
There are many competing interests for National Forest land. There are those interested in protecting it, developing it, and just recreating in it. The challenge will be to get the balance between those interests right. If a National Monument proclamation does move forward, as it appears to be, we need to be involved in its development and included in the outcome.
In the meantime remember to make time to ride. Every time we do so we remind ourselves why our local mountains are important to us. They’re important enough to protect, and important enough to want to ensure that our grandkids can enjoy similar trail experiences, and similar ways to connect with nature.
Come join us for a RAM (Ride and Mingle) morning! Ride beautiful Sycamore Canyon in Pt. Mugu State Park with your buddies, or join one of the guided beginner, intermediate or advanced rides.
Please sign up in advance so we’ll know how much batter to have on hand for hungry riders!
Suggested donation for the Pancake breakfast is $10.
Please support your local community of mountain bikers by supporting CORBA: http://www.corbamtb.com/join/
Directions to the trail head in Newbury Park: Take the 101 Freeway to the Wendy exit in Newbury Park. At the end of the off-ramp proceed south on Wendy until it dead-ends at Potrero Road. Park in the adjacent dirt parking area.
Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the 24th Annual COSCA Trailwork Day in Thousand Oaks on October 18, 2014. The trail we will be building/repairing will be announced soon.
COSCA will treat participants to lunch afterwards and have a drawing for some great door prizes. Participants who register with our Meetup event will also be eligible for the end-of-year drawing for a Niner frame and other prizes!
For full details and to register, see our registration page. We hope to see a good turnout of local mountain bikers at this event!
Last night an overflowing crowd packed into the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center to hear from a panel of “experts” about the future of the San Gabriel Mountains. Among the honored guests and panel of experts were Robert Bonnie, the undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture, Tom Tidwell, Chief Forester of the Forest Service, Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the Southwest United States, and congressmen Judy Chu, Los Angeles County Supervisor-elect Hilda Solis, Janice Rutherford, San Bernardino Board of Supervisors Chairperson. Local politicians and wilderness advocates rounded out the panel, with Victor Diaz, chair of the Friends of the Angeles group, as the sole “user group” representative.
Also in the room were Tom Contreras, Supervisor of the Angeles National Forest, as well as Jody Noiron, Supervisor of the San Bernardino National Forest, and all of their respective district rangers. In fact there were more Forest Service staff and volunteers on hand than any event or public meeting I’ve ever had the privilege to attend.
The auditorium was packed to capacity, with over 200 people unable to enter the room because room capacity has been reached. The WIlderness Society and San Gabriel Mountains Forever group were offering free buses to the meeting, helping explain the huge turnout.
We learned from Tom Tidwell that a number of improvements will be happening in 2015, including new staff hires, new signage and other improvements to the forest. Trail Crews from the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Urban Youth League are out continuing to restore and repair trails.
The panel were each asked a single orchestrated question by Oscar Gonzales, California State Executive Director of the Farm Services Agency, who also flew out from Washington DC. Their answers were well-orchestrated, mostly singing the potential praises of a National Monument. There were no specific plans or proposals revealed. Only Janice Rutherford from San Bernardino County asked the important questions: how will this be managed, what is the management plan, how will this be funded, how will economic development (for areas such as Wrightwood), recreation and conservation be balanced and impacted. Most importantly, why is this happening so suddenly with no outreach or input to her community?
I could ask the same… why no outreach to our community (of mountain bikers)?
In fact, for all the talk of how this process is starting, there was not even an opportunity to ask questions, and oversized postcards were the only means given to submit anonymous comments. There are no resources or commenting options available online.
After the meeting, in my conversations with the wilderness advocates, and with Tom TIdwell by Jenny from Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, we were given some verbal assurances: That the Forest Service would continue to manage the proposed National Monument, and that the intent is to continue to allow all forms of recreation currently allowed. These verbal assurances, while comforting, came with a caveat of “no guarantees.”
The stature of the dignitaries in town for this theater of support that there has to have been some very high-level discussions and planning going on behind the scenes. But for this meeting, the first real public outreach, nobody was able to refer to a specific plan, the language of the proclamation, nor discuss the ulterior motives of those behind the plan.
For that we need to dig a little further into the history of the efforts to “protect” the San Gabriel Mountains. In 2003 Hilda Solis and Barbara Boxer introduced the San Gabriel Watershed Study, to determine the area’s suitability for a National Recreation Area. Separately, The Congressionally authorized Rim of the Valley Study has been taking place over a similar time span. Most recently, the four Southern California National Forests were charged with re-assessing and amending their management plan, with a greater emphasis on protecting the landscape for threatened and endangered species habitat protection. We are still waiting on the final outcome of that land management plan amendment, but as of our last meetings, the Fish Canyon area north of Castaic was being proposed as a Recommended Wilderness. Additionally, David Drier introduced a wilderness bill in 2011, and Congressman Buck McKeon is currently considering another.
The San Gabriel Mountains Forever group, with close ties to the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club, have been lobbying hard for additional resources and protection for the San Gabriel Mountains.
Congressman Judy Chu has introduced two bills, one to create a National Recreation Area, the other to declare many thousands of acres of new Wilderness, including Condor Peak, Fish Canyon, Red Mountain and other areas. The Forest Service’ own Land Management Plan amendments determined that Condor Peak and Red Mountain were a) not suitable for wilderness protection, and b) would be provided little if any additional “protection” by a Wilderness designation. We have to ask why does Chu’s bill ask for these additional wilderness areas that have been fought over and removed from previous wilderness legislation, and found unsuitable? Our official comments on that plan reflected this. Her National Recreation Area bill was similarly vague on specifics, and we thought, premature.
Frustration with the lack of congressional support for those bills is what supposedly drove Chu to petition the White House for a National Monument declaration, which bypasses congress and the debate and scrutiny it would receive there. The President, under the Antiquities Act, can declare a National Monument without the support of Congress.
At this time we simply do not have enough information to make an informed decision as to whether the National Monument is a good idea that will help Forest visitors, or one that will just add an additional layer of bureaucracy. The way some of the panel gushed about the plan, one could be led to believe that the declaration would instantly take care of overflowing trash, lack of bathrooms and facilities, trail maintenance, graffiti and other problems. But there has been no talk of how much, if any, additional funding this would bring, now how it will be managed and implemented.
We’d like to see the San Gabriel Mountains receive a new influx of funding and staff. We’d like to see better services and infrastructure needed to protect the mountains, and continue to allow us to recreate responsibly. A National Monument may in fact be the vehicle to get us there. We simply don’t have enough detailed information to make that decision.
We plan to meet with congress members whose districts include portions of the San Gabriel Mountains, as well as the conservationists that are lobbying hard for this. Until we have some face-to-face time with these people, and have answers to our questions, we must remain officially neutral, while at the same time being guardedly optimistic for the future of our beloved mountains.
From our Friends to the north, Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users:
Congressman “Buck” McKeon is holding a Town Hall meeting to discuss a proposal to designate approximately 40,000 acres just north of Castaic Lake as a federally protected Wilderness area. This proposed Wilderness area could potentially include the Fish Canyon, Salt Creek, Elderberry Canyon, Tule and Red Mountain areas on the northeast side of Castaic Lake. All of these areas are very close to Tapia Canyon where the majority of mountain biking occurs in Santa Clarita AND which will likely be lost to development in the not too distant future.
Even though many of us would support the protection and preservation of our public lands, it is important to note that the Wilderness designation severely limits recreation on such lands. Specifically, cycling or mountain biking is prohibited in Wilderness areas because they are “mechanized”. Access is only allowed on foot or horseback.
Already, the federal government has set aside very large Wilderness areas near Santa Clarita including the Magic Mountain Wilderness (just south of the 14 Freeway near Canyon Country), the Sespe Wilderness (just north of Fillmore and Santa Paula), and the San Rafael Wilderness (just east of Ventura and Santa Barbara). This is why you can’t ride a mountain bike in the mountains above Fillmore and why there are so few mountain bike trails in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area. We think these three Wilderness areas near Santa Clarita are more than enough.
For this reason, we encourage you to attend next week’s Town Hall meeting to let Congressman McKeon know that you object to the Wilderness designation of these additional areas near Castaic Lake because it would permanently prohibit mountain biking. The current designation of Backcountry – Non-motorized or something else more protective (such as a Special Conservation Area) would be preferred so long as mountain biking continues to be allowed.
Here are the details of the Town Hall meeting:
Date: Tuesday, August 19
Where: Santa Clarita City Hall, Century Room
Address: 23920 Valencia Boulevard, Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Thank you for your continued support.
SCV Trail Users
Safe and Equal Access for All Trail Users
From SoCal Gas:
Sullivan Canyon will be closed to visitors Tuesday August 12th for a Hydro-Static Pressure test of the natural gas transmission pipelines. Please schedule your visit accordingly.
This closure if for safety reasons so please do not access the canyon from any of the side trails. The canyon will be open again on Wednesday provided there are no problems with the test. Please use caution as you pass construction equipment, and we recommend keeping dogs on a leash so they are not harmed by equipment as well.
For information, contact:
Public Affairs Manager
Regional Public Affairs
555 W. 5th St.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90013
Office: 213 244-4633