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Bike Thefts On The Rise–Again

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Evidently there has been a rash of bicycle thefts that have hit several CORBA members within the last month. While it is not known if the perpetrators are part of an organized ring, LAPD officer John “Rusty” Redican thinks it sounds a lot like a gang that was operating out of South Los Angels a few years ago. Click here for the link to MTBR to view his post and see photos of the thieves that were arrested a few years back. Below is the text of his post:

Hello All, My name is John (Rusty) Redican, I’m a fellow cyclist and LAPDOfficer. This reminder is not an official LAPD news blast, but me as a fellow cyclist and community member arming you with a little information to keep you and your property safe. Due to another salient event, where a fellow cyclist had his bicycles stolen out of his garage.

I need to advise you all about a ring of high end bicycle thieves that we (LAPDWest LA Division) arrested a couple years back, who may or may not be at it again. That arrest was only made possible due to cooperation between the cycling community and the police. First off, be very cautious on what you post on social media, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Strava and similar forms of tracking and communication we all use for our shared love of cycling.

A few years back, this ring of bike thieves, based out of south Los Angeles, were responsible for millions of dollars of bicycle thefts, from San Diego County to Ventura County. They would follow cyclists home from group rides, scour FaceBook and other social media for intel on cyclists and their homes, so they could conduct surveillance on you and break into your garage or storage areas to steal your bicycles. They would do this during the day mostly when no one was home, but also at night while you slept. At times they would cause damage to the garage, but most times they were very surreptitious about it and the only evidence left, was the absence of your property. The majority of the bikes they targeted were well worth (as you all know) the chance for them to get caught by the home owner. At the time, they used a very clean and newer model silver, 4 door Audi sedan with bike racks on it. The suspects in the cases I’m referring too were all male hispanics in their mid to lat 20’s – early thirties, between 5’6” and 5’9”, 175 lbs to 220 lbs, not climbers. Again, I’m not saying this is definitely them, but the MO used in the theft of bikes from one of our fellow cyclists in Torrence, last week is very similar.

So be advised and be cautious of what you put on social media, NEVER have the starting point to your ride be your residence, and be cautious on who you share your photos and information with. Also, you don’t have to be paranoid, but be aware of your surroundings and if you notice a vehicle following you, or the same vehicle in 3 different locations, that may be a clue, and take not of the lic plate number, or any other distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle and occupant(s). Criminals are not dumb, and have evolved with the technology, so a little operational security will help you keep your property that you love, and work hard to obtain. If you see anything suspicious please be a good witness, don’t physically get involved, as you never know what these criminals are armed with, but immediately call your local police department.

Anyway, I put this info out not to alarm, but to inform, for-warned is for-armed. Please share with your cycling teams and groups, or any cycling friends who may benefit from this information.

These are the suspects from 2012. This photo is from CBS Los Angeles. They were apparently seen today in Corona at Corona High checking out the mountain bike teams bikes and asking questions… They are now driving a black newer model Honda Accord….FYI…

 

President’s Message: It’s complicated

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

There’s always a lot going on here in Southern California. We have recently submitted comments on the Rim of the Valley study. We’re expecting the Santa Monica Mountains NRA Interagency Trail Management Plan early next year. A new National Monument management plan development process just began, though CORBA has been involved in the Community Collaborative Group since last November. We’ve successfully alerted L.A. County of the need for another trail master plan, to be announced soon. We have pending Bike Park proposals, and a recently-opened Bike Park in Fillmore. We have a growing high school and middle school racing contingent. We have a new Forest Supervisor. There are wilderness proposals, missing links in trails, fire-damaged trails still in need of restoration, access issues on Etz Meloy (Backbone Trail). There’s no shortage of issues, threats to our public lands, our trails and access to them.

It’s complicated.

And it takes time to figure things out and try to get things right.  These studies and plans seem to disappear from the radar, only to re-emerge six months to a decade later. Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint, and CORBA is still at it after 28 years. Government is slow to move but no matter how frustratingly slow it sometimes seems, there is progress being made.

CORBA is busily engaged in all of these processes on your behalf, in partnership with IMBA, to help make sure there is progress. We continue to work to make sure the landscapes we ride and the trails we love are protected, improved, and remain open to our community.

We need each and every one of you to be engaged as well. After all, we’re all ambassadors of the sport when we’re on multi-use trails. This means ride an appropriate speed for your sightline (slow down!) and be courteous. Be safe. Follow trail etiquette best practices. Be an example for others. Leave no trace. Support CORBA. Sign a petition. There are lots of ways to have a positive impact.

Riding trails to explore our public lands is a passion we all share, and want to continue to enjoy. Enjoy your summer and keep on riding!

 

Rim of the Valley Corridor Study

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

ROTValternativeDCORBA has been involved in the Rim of the Valley Corridor since our inception. In fact, we’re so ingrained in the process that the Rim of the Valley Corridor is mentioned in our mission statement as our primary territory of concern. We were excited to see the draft study released, and have submitted comments on the plan.

The study sought to answer the following:

1. Does the area possess nationally significant natural or cultural resources?
2. Is it a suitable and unique addition to the National Park System?
3. Can it be feasibly added to the Park System?
4. Does it require direct NPS management, instead of stewardship from other groups or a public-private combination?

The answer to all of the above questions was a “yes.” The National Park Service presented four alternatives based on the study findings. The first NEPA-required “no action” alternatives serves as a baseline against which we can compare the alternatives. Alternative B allows the NPS to offer “technical assistance” to existing land managers within the study area, but falls short of allowing the NPS to make any direct capitol investments.

Alternatives C and D expand the authorized boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. What the boundary expansions really mean is that the National Park Service will be authorized to offer technical assistance to existing land managers for any project that enhances recreation, or restores habitat and connectivity. Under Alternative C or D, the NPS is also authorized to spend money on capitol projects within the expanded boundaries.

We believe that the largest operational boundary proposed under Alternative D would have the greatest long-term benefit for recreation, bio-connectivity, wildlife and the communities adjacent to the study area. It also includes the wildlife corridors linking the two areas of the Angeles National Forest separated by Highway 14, as well as between the Santa Susana Mountains and Los Padres National Forests.

The boundary expansion does not come without concern. The NPS, like most public land agencies, is currently under-funded. We would hope that any boundary expansion would come with an increase in funding sufficient to at least maintain the current level of service across the expanded NRA.

During the course of the public meetings we heard a lot of misinformation and a misunderstanding of what the boundary expansions mean. The Federal government will not be taking anyone’s property against their will. Existing land ownership rights and management authority is respected and maintained.

One thing that would change is the permitting of landfills. In our comments, we asked for the existing landfills to be excluded from the proposed NRA expansion to eliminate the need for additional permitting. We also feel that the recently completed San Gabriel Watershed and Special Resource Study which proposed a San Gabriel Unit of the NRA, must be considered and its findings also addressed by any congressional action to the effect of either.

The Rim of the Valley trail system is also important to us. It’s a proposed multi-use trail network that will encircle the San Fernando Valley, and perhaps Simi and Conejo Valleys. We feel the National Park Service will be in a good position to help facilitate its completion under Alternatives C or D.

It will probably be another year before we see a final recommendation from the study. From there it will be up to Congress to decide what to do with the recommendations.

2015-06-24 – Rim of the Valley Draft Study Comments from CORBA

San Gabriel Mountain NM – Public Meetings June 22-27.

Friday, June 5th, 2015

stelprd3829626At our last San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (SGMNM) Community Collaborative (the Collaborative) meeting, we learned the dates of the first round of public scoping meetings for the new Monument Management Plan.

President Obama gave the Forest Service three years to develop a management plan for the monument. The first step in that process is reviewing the current Angeles National Forest Management Plan, and the Presidential proclamation declaring the moment. They need to determine what needs to change in the current management plan to bring it into compliance with the proclamation and the new Monument.

The Forest Service will continue to manage the same land that was the Angeles National Forest as the SGMNM. This means they don’t need to write a new plan for the Monument. Instead They will be developing an amendment to the current management plan.

At this series of public meetings the Forest Service will present a “need to change” document: what they have so far determined needs to change in the current plan. They will be seeking public input on what they have found, and looking for public comments. Comments could be supportive, suggestive of improvements or object to the findings.

Comments will be taken at the meetings. The deadline for comments will end 45 days after this “need for change” document is released, which is expected mid-June). We understand the document is not long, expected between 10 and 20 pages long. The meetings will be four hours long, with stations explaining each aspect of the proposed changes. People can arrive at any time during the four hour window to review the materials. They will also be made available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=46964.

While we don’t expect any surprises that will affect trail access for mountain bikers or other user groups. We may see changes in management structure, projects, funding and staffing levels, community involvement and access, and other things that we must consider. Until the document is released to the public we won’t know exactly what it contains.

Watch for CORBA’s reports and alerts, CORBA’s comments, and suggested comments for our members, will be posted after the first meeting. Please attend if you’re able, or visit the Forest Service planning web site at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=46964 to keep updated.

Meeting Schedule – Save the Dates

June 22, 4-8 p.m. – Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave, Glendale California

June 23, 4-8 p.m. – Palmdale Legacy Commons Senior Center, 930 East Ave Q9, Palmdale, California

June 24, 4-8 p.m. – Glendora Public Library, 140 S. Glendora Ave, Glendlora, California

June 25, 3-8 p.m. – Pico House, 424 N. Main Street Los Angeles, California

June 26 4-8 p.m. – Big Pines Lodge, 24537 Big Pines Highway, Wrightwood, California

What’s Next for the San Gabriels?

Friday, March 27th, 2015

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Sierra Club did a panel presentation on the future of the San Gabriel Mountains.  The panel members were Steve Scauzillo, local newspaper reporter, Daniel Lovato, Acting Supervisor, Angeles National Forest, Belinda Faustinos, Vice Chair, San Gabriel Mountains Forever, Tim Brick, Managing Director, The Arroyo Seco Foundation, and Edward Belden, Southern California Program Associate, National Forest Foundation.

Daniel Lovato gave an encouraging update on what’s already happened, and what is in the works for the coming months. There are some positive changes and staffing increases planned.  They’re filling several vacant staff positions, including a volunteer coordinator, which should make it better for us and take some load off Recreation Officer Dennis Merkel, who has been doing multiple duties over and above his Rec officer position.  There will be about 3 million dollars for Monument Management allocated to the mountains in 2015 from Region 5. Consultants are being hired to oversee the management plan development, as they don’t have the in-house capacity to undertake this effort.
SGMNM size comparisonMore money is coming for projects. Tentative plans include funding for ongoing and new restoration and redevelopment programs, removal of invasive species, funding of youth employment programs, hiring of paid personnel for the Visitors Centers and the development of a “Field Ranger” program.  They will be filling the visitor center positions by hiring recently returned veterans as part of a post-military service job placement program. Some of those will be on the ground by Memorial Day.
There are more than $1 million needed to update all the signs in the forest. They’re placing this at the bottom of the priority list for the moment. They’re also developing a spreadsheet of ready-to-go projects which they’ll make available to groups who are looking to donate time, materials or funds for specific projects. They are working on a partnership with corporations, including Coca Cola, and nonprofits to bring in more funds.
One of the themes of the evening was why the boundaries of the National Monument were set to exclude some of the most heavily used, historic, and popular areas of the front country. Nobody has an answer, not even the Forest Service.
Tim Brick of the Arroyo Seco Foundation was very adamant about the need to include the La River Ranger District and the Arroyo Seco. He also talked a lot about the Brown Mountain Dam, which he says the Forest Service doesn’t classify as a dam. However it is listed it as one of the most dangerous dams in the country on national infrastructure reports. It hasn’t been inspected since 1994. He also talked about how disappointed he was that people can’t walk up the arroyo canyon to switzers (Gabrielino trail) for the first time in Centuries. He said it used to be part of the the native American route up and over the mountains to the desert. “For the first time in history, after the station fire, people can’t go there and the trail is gone”.  He wasn’t aware, and we let him know, that CORBA has been funding the restoration of the trail over Brown Mountain dam through an REI Grant and a partnership with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

Belinda Faustinos, chair of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, thanked me for our extensive input on the new National Monument Public Involvement Plan. All the CORBA and MWBA recommendations were taken into consideration by the subcommittee and will be included in the report they will present at the next Community Collaborative meeting.
She went on to state that The San Gabriel Mountains Forever group’s primary mission is now to ensure the success of the National Monument, through grant funding, fundraising, community outreach, and through public input on the management plan. We fully support this.
Their secondary mission is to expand the National Monument to include those areas of the front country, Mount Lukens and the southwest LARRD , that was left out of the monument. This is something I believe CORBA can support, but only after we have a successful track record with the current monument. It will take either an act of congress or a new presidential proclamation to achieve this expansion. It’s unlikely to happen under the Obama administration, and more likely through legislation. Either way, it will take some time.
Their third priority is to establish new wilderness areas, including Condor Peak, Fish Canyon (now a Recommended Wilderness), and expansion of existing wilderness areas. This is where our opinions diverge. I’m hoping that the relationships we are developing through the collaborative will make it easier for us to negotiate and stand up for access to trails when those wilderness proposals surface.
There was also talk a brief mention of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study, which has been delayed for some time and has now missed three public release deadlines.
Edward Belden gave a great talk on the National Forest Foundation, and how they are working in Big Tujunga as a part of their Treasured Landscapes program, and have proposed a pilot project to remove invasive arundo from east fork of the San Gabriel river. One of his presentation slides acknowledged CORBA and MWBA as some of the groups they’ve partnered with on projects (Strawberry Peak Trail, National Trails Day, Etc).
There was some really encouraging news and a generally good vibe in the room. CORBA’s involvement in the Community Collaborative, and our continued efforts as both stewards of the trails and the lands through which they pass, is helping to bring together an at times divided trail community. We’ll continue to be engaged in ensuring the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument remain great places to ride a mountain bike.

President’s Message: Collaboration is Key

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

In this day and age the most effective way to achieve anything for the public good is to collaborate.  Whether those collaborations are with land managers, other trail user groups, public-private partnerships, or other entities, they are necessary. Nothing gets accomplished in a vacuum.

It was through a collaboration with a number of different groups that the Strawberry Peak loop was restored and re-opened in the Angeles National Forest, now the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. It was only possible with several groups pooling and sharing resources and coordinating our efforts. We couldn’t have done it alone.

To help bolster support and improve community participation in and stewardship of the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, a Community Collaborative group has been formed. As one of the 12 “steering committee” members, I had the opportunity to help shape what that group will look like. The first meeting of the full Collaborative group was on March 4th, 2015.

At that meeting we had a broad range of interests in attendance. About five people from the invitee list were absent, which is to be expected trying organize a group of this size. The first order of the day was introductions. Water was well-represented with several water districts and the association of water districts in attendance. We had Caltrans, Edison, two LA County representatives including a District 5 representative, and Flood control. There was also a San Bernardino County representative. Also present were a number of councils of governments, and a council of chambers of commerce. Recreation was represented BY CORBA, California Off-Road Vehicle Association and the Community Hiking Club, and Mount Baldy resort. Native American interests were there, along with several social and health justice organizations. The National Forest Foundation did an excellent job of winnowing down an extensive interest list to bring this group together.

B2-RkwlCQAAwUb7Since this was the first meeting of the full collaborative group, most of the day was spent going over and refining the draft documents that the steering committee had prepared. This included the guiding documents for the Collaborative, the Statement of Purpose, the Goals and the Code of Conduct. There was a lot of similar discussions to those the steering committee had already had, but these new points of view raised some issues that weren’t well-covered in our draft. We refined the documents and by day’s end, the group had formally ratified and adopted them.

We also heard an approximate timeline on the development of the Management Plan for the new monument, which must be completed by October 10, 2017, as stated in the Presidential Proclamation. Currently the Forest Service is developing a plan on how to reach out to the community effectively, this group being a key component of that plan. They have started preparing a “Need for Change” document, which states what needs to be changed in the current Angeles National Forest Management Plan to bring it into alignment with the language of the Proclamation. This need for change document will be posted publicly in the coming months as the starting point for the public process of developing the new management plan.

The group agreed to meet monthly during this first and extremely important year of the management plan development. We will continue to be active throughout the three-year process, and beyond.

Collaboration is key to the success of this endeavor. One of the big changes in the 2012 Forest Planning Rule, was an added emphasis on collaborative efforts as a more productive way of engaging the public in planning processes. There are many collaborative groups working on different Forests and Monuments, but this is the first in a major metropolitan area. Our population base and size presents unique challenges, but I’m confident that this Collaborative will be a productive one, supporting the efforts of the Forest Service to improve the Forest, this new National Monument, and to benefit the communities that depend on it.

One of my roles as a member of the Community Collaborative is to bring your concerns to the table going forward. Feel free to contact me with any concerns that you might find. In turn, I’ll be reporting back to you on the work and progress of the Collaborative, in addition to the Forest Service management plan development process.

Thanks to the National Forest Foundation for serving as neutral facilitators and organizers of this group. The purpose statement and code of conduct adopted on March 5, 2015 are below:

2015 – Statement of Purpose and Goals

2015 – Community Collaborative Code of Conduct

 

 

President’s Message: A Look Back at 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

As we prepare to ring in the new year, it’s a good time to reflect on what has happened over the past twelve months. Here’s a quick recap of CORBA’s most significant efforts of 2014.

strawberry peak trail crew Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Trailwork:  One of our biggest accomplishments in 2014 was the restoration of the Strawberry Peak Loop in spring, and the subsequent opening of the trail by the Forest Service on May 28. This much-loved trail was the focus of CORBA, The Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps as we coordinated efforts to get the trail ready for opening. We were aided by a grant from REI which allowed us to bring in a professional trailbuilder for much of the heavier work. The restoration included a short re-route of one section of the trail that had always been troublesome.  Another planned re-route of the northern end of the Strawberry Peak trail through to Colby ranch is currently in the NEPA process, but the main Strawberry Peak loop used by cyclists is open and has been enjoyed all summer and fall. We also helped restore trails damaged in the Springs fire in Point Mugu State Park, worked on the Backbone trail, and our adopted Los Robles trail. For 2015 we are enlisting some new trail crew leaders, as we look to expand our trailwork activities.

 

CORBA's Youth Adventures

CORBA’s Youth Adventures

Youth Programs:  In 2014 our Youth Adventures program continued in full swing, with Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) volunteers taking at-risk youth out on the trails throughout the year.  We added another special event to our calendar, the Santa Monica Mountains Rec Fest, during which we put more than 200 kids on bikes at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Rec Fest was a great addition to the calendar, and we are hoping that funding can be found to repeat the event. In 2014 our Kids Club program was picked up by Carl Kolvenbach who is leading these monthly social rides for kids and their parents.

 

Skills Clinics: For the first Saturday of every month this year, and the past twenty years, we conducted our free Introduction to Mountain Biking Skills Clinics at Malibu Creek State Park. Hundreds of people learned basic skills at our free clinics this year. This free service will continue through 2015 and beyond.

 

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Bike Parks:  Fillmore Bike Park construction is well underway. We worked with local advocates from Ride Heritage Valley and the City of Fillmore to bring a new bike park to the town. Construction began in the fall and is ongoing. The park will be opened to the public in 2015, a great asset to the local community.  In Thousand Oaks the plans for Sapwi Trails Community Park are in their final steps to approval. The plans include a pump track and dirt jumps for bikes, along with multi-use trails. We’re excited to see this facility approved and look forward to its construction. We still have pending proposals before L.A. County, and we hope to see continued progress on those proposals in the new year.

 

National Forest Management Plans:  2014 also saw the completion of the four SoCal National Forests Land Management Plan Amendments. During this five-year process we engaged with the Forest Service on the re-examination of their land management plans. The Forest Service was sued for not providing adequate protections for threatened and endangered species, and the settlement agreement had the Forest Service reassess areas of the four Forests for increased protections. The outcome of that process was the proposed Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness. We filed a formal objection to the RW, as it would close three long-distance backcountry trails to bikes. Though these were not popular trails and hardly saw any use over the past several years, they are still a loss of opportunity to the mountain biking community. The final record of decision was a happy compromise: We now have a recommended wilderness area, but the trails will remain open to bikes until such time as a forest order is issued to specifically close the trails to bicycles.

President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation

National Monument: One of the biggest surprises of the year was the announcement and soon thereafter, the proclamation of the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. While we were all taken by surprise with this announcement, the outcome, our new National Monument, will help the Forest Service attract more resources to the area and bring more attention to our beloved mountains. CORBA will be actively participating in the development of the Management Plan for the National Monument, both as a part of the NEPA process, and as a part of a collaborative group brought together by the National Forest Foundation to ensure as much public engagement as possible in that process.

 

 

Bell boxes contain bells   which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Bell boxes contain bells which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Trail Safety: Over this past year CORBA engaged with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council to strategize on trail safety. We developed an educational trail etiquette brochure, which is now being distributed throughout the area. The brochure has been very well-received. In 2015 we will expand upon those efforts by developing a companion trail etiquette web site. We have received a grant from the Trails and Greenways Foundation to achieve this goal. CORBA has also implemented a bell program in the Conejo Valley, and we now have several different style bells available for purchase.

 

CORBA Board: In 2014 we welcomed Wendy Engelberg to our board of directors, and the bundle of energy and enthusiasm she brings. Steve Messer took over from Mark Langton as board President, while Jennifer Klausner completed her final year as Executive Director of the LA County Bicycle Coalition. We have open seats on our board and welcome any inquiries or nominations.

 

A few losses: We lost our battle with State Parks over the revision of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to trail use in State Parks. While a win would have changed nothing with regards to existing trails, we felt the language we proposed was more welcoming to all trail users and a better regulation for new trails. State Parks leadership were chided for a mismanaged public process in developing the new regulations, which have since been sent back into the public process. However, it has become obvious that no amount of public engagement is going to change what State Parks wanted in the first place, a regulation that makes it more difficult to open trails to bikes.

California State Parks have been under much scrutiny with the Parks Forward Commission releasing findings of numerous areas that need improvement in the administration of our State Parks. Their plan will be released sometime in 2015. We are hoping to see some of the recommendations of the commission implemented, but the reforms will likely be difficult in this chronically mismanaged agency.

Looking forward to 2015, we’ll be as busy as ever. We’ll continue to work with State Parks, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, Los Angeles County, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and local cities and conservancies. We’ll continue to monitor trail access issues. We’ll continue to advocate for more trail opportunities. We’ll continue to work with IMBA at the national level, and our neighboring IMBA Chapters and other trail organizations locally and state-wide.

At the moment we know of at least three major issues that will get our full attention in 2015. The first is the previously mentioned San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan.

Next is the Santa Monica Mountain Trails Master Plan. This plan has been in development for more than 12 years, and is the primary reason that State Parks have not yet followed through on their obligation to assess existing trails for bicycle use. We expect public hearings on the trail master plan to begin mid-winter. This will be one of the most important processes for you to stay involved with, and will determine the future of bicycle access to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains for decades to come.

Rim of the Valley Study Area

Rim of the Valley Study Area

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Study will also be released in Winter 2015. This study is examining the mountains surrounding the San Fernando, Simi, Conejo, and Crescenta and San Rafael valleys for an integrated management approach. This study has implications for trail connectivity, resource protection, wildlife corridors and more.

We need your support. CORBA, with it’s small but dedicated crew of volunteers, has a lot on our plate for 2015. But if we are to accomplish everything on our agenda for 2015, we’ll need some help from you. We depend on your support and your membership dollars. You have renewed your membership, right?  In addition to your membership, attending public meetings and submitting your comments on issues that affect our trails is the most important thing you can do.  Of course, volunteering to do trailwork is the most tangible ways you can make a difference. Join our Meetup group to stay up to date on our activities. We also welcome help in areas of graphic design, public relations/marketing, fundraising and grantwriting. If you’d like to just stay on top of what’s happening and get some of the inside scoop, consider attending our monthly board meetings.

Get out and ride. Stay informed and involved. Remember to be courteous to other trail users. Thanks for your support through a great 2014, and have a wonderful, happy and prosperous 2015!

A Monumental Collaboration

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Initially, we were taken aback by the announcement of a newly proposed National Monument in our local mountains. It was clear that it was going to happen with or without our involvement. We gave our conditional support to the proclamation, attended the proclamation signing celebration, and began our outreach efforts in earnest. We subsequently met with Congresswoman Judy Chu and expressed our desire to be included and involved.

Subsequently, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) interviewed a number of trail advocates, public lands advocates, and community group leaders. As CORBA President, I was interviewed, along with a few dozen other individuals. After the interviews, twelve of us were invited to participate in a collaborative working group.

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Collaborative Working Group

Collaborative Working Group Meeting

On December 2nd, 2014, the first collaborative working group meeting was convened. We discussed the role of the collaborative group, and strategized about how to engage more people in both the development of a management plan for the Monument, as well as how to better connect communities to the mountains and the recreational opportunities they provide. Together, the working group developed a draft structure and recommendations for the expansion of the group, which will be expanded to include dozens of stakeholders. A participation subcommittee was formed to develop a list of candidates for the larger collaborative group. The outcome of the first meeting helped set the stage for the process going forward, but the larger group will be convened before making any binding decisions.

We also developed the following draft mission statement for the collaborative group:

Represent diverse perspectives to identify, prioritize and advocate for investments, management objectives, and values that sustainably benefit the Angeles National Forest, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and all communities throughout the region.

In this collaborative process, the NFF is serving as a neutral convener, providing the forum and the structure for this process. The National Monument Management Plan will be developed through a NEPA public process that will begin in 2015. The collaborative group’s efforts are happening in parallel to this NEPA process, will help inform that process, and help ensure that many disparate interests are considered. However, it will be the Forest Service that has final say over the management of the National Monument.

What we did not get was answers to many of the questions that still surround this hastily declared National Monument. Questions such as why certain heavily-impacted areas were left out, or how the Monument will be funded. While we’re all still curious as to the answers to these and other questions, the more important question is how best to work with and manage the National Monument we were given.

The collaborative working group will next meet in mid-January, and the expanded group will be convened in February or early March.

Presidential Proclamation: Establishing the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Monday, October 13th, 2014
President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation

In what seems to be lightning speed, last Friday, October 10, 2014, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation – Establishment of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The ceremony was held at Bonelli Regional Park, with the San Gabriel Mountains themselves providing a dramatic backdrop for the event. We understand proclamation delivers much of what we expected, with no unexpected surprises. We expect to be pleased by it’s language and intent, and still amazed at how quickly it all happened. Once the final proclamation is posted, we’ll update accordingly.

Though the last two months have seemed quick from our perspective, the effort to bring additional resources and protection to the San Gabriel Mountains has been underway for more than a decade. Since Hilda Solis introduced the legislation to study the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed in 2002, the area has been the subject of highly organized and focused advocacy efforts from a diverse range of environmental and social groups. Today was a great milestone and achievement not just for those groups, but for all of us who value the forest, its resources, and the opportunities it provides.

Judy Chu thanks the coalition of supporters

Judy Chu thanks the dignitaries and coalition of supporters

We’re especially pleased to see the prominence of recreation in all the later announcements, and the implicit acknowledgement that bicycles and other recreational uses are welcomed and appropriate. We’d like to think it was no accident that the Whitehouse blog post about the signing features a mountain biker as the first picture. We understand the proclamation further protects the mountains, but also protects our access and ability to recreate in them. Its potential to bolster the quality and continuity of our water supply can’t be understated. These mountains are the lungs of the city, the place to go for cleaner air and a clearer mind and a healthier body. And they’ll continue to be so.

There are still many opposed to the National Monument proclamation. The public relations outreach effort was botched from the start, and felt like an afterthought to something that was already well underway. The movement’s momentum was evident even at that poorly executed initial public announcement on August 26, 2014. There had been no public involvement in the process, and that initial announcement was just that, an announcement, not a true public participation event. It was for that reason we thought it best to approach and work with the proponents of the NM, and help make sure that recreational users and conservationists were heard and considered.

By being involved and reaching out early on, engaging with San Gabriel Mountains Forever and their partners, we’re in a better position going forward. The ability to present a unified position from multiple organizations advocating for both recreation and conservation will help these treasured lands meet the needs of everyone. It will help protect where we play.

The previously posted National Monument FAQ’s were developed as a joint project with MWBA, SGMF and much appreciated guidance and expertise from IMBA and The Wilderness Society at the national level. Those FAQ’s all still apply, and we’ll work with those same groups when the management planning process begins. We’ll continue to represent bicyclists’ interests in an advisory role that will help guide the Monument’s management plan development. (more…)

Conditional Support of a San Gabriel National Monument

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Condor Peak Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains, still threatened by wilderness proposals

Condor Peak Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains

As previously reported, CORBA has been working with several other groups to get assurances that our needs will be met when and if the San Gabriels are declared a National Monument. As we’ve received answers to many of those questions, the answers have been compiled into a set of frequently asked questions, or “FAQ’s” about the National Monument.

We’ve also seen correspondence from members of congress that support our position for continued bicycle access, along with all other forms of recreation currently allowed in the Angeles National Forest. We’re confident that under a National Monument, we’ll be able to continue riding the trails and volunteering to maintain them as we do now. This is a vision for the San Gabriel Mountains that we can support.

That said, we must say that our support is tentative, and conditional on the final language of the proclamation and its accompanying preamble reflecting these recreational goals and ideals. We have not yet seen that final language, nor received any direct confirmation of the contents of the proclamation. While verbal assurances are helpful, until it is finalized and in writing, we feel it’s too early to proclaim our outright support. We have co-authored a letter that outlines a vision of a National Monument that we can and will support. We’re hopeful that letter has been given due consideration.

Today the Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece that closely reflects our position. They support the designation, but do so with skepticism of the proponents’ claims that this will make all the trash, graffiti, and lack of maintenance go away. The only thing that will make these things go away is funding for the additional staff, rangers, education, law enforcement, and maintenance crews needed to manage the forest. While a National Monument greatly increases the opportunities for more funding and staff, it comes with no outright guarantee.

2014-10-07 - Joint-SGMNM-FAQ_01News has just been released that President Obama may declare the National Monument as soon as this Friday, two days from now. For us and many others, this is a far too hasty response. If the proclamation is as we have been led to expect–acknowledging the value and importance of continued recreational access including bicycles–then we should have no problem. But we fail to see the need to push this through less than two months after the public learned of this proposal, and six weeks after the one and only “public meeting” (in which the public were not able to speak). At that meeting, even members of the invited panel of speakers raised questions that as yet, remain unanswered.

Both San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties have come out against the Monument proposal, in part because of a lack of public outreach and answers as to how this will really impact their constituents.

We’d have prefered a slower approach with more public participation. There are many individuals and organizations adamantly opposed to the Monument. If allowed to voice their concerns and have them addressed and answered, some of that opposition would be reduced. As it is, this rushed process is just fueling their anger and outrage at a lack of public outreach. However, we remain hopeful and confident that any impending announcement will be favorable to mountain bikes.

The following FAQ’s are a summary of the questions and answers we’ve compiled in collaboration with IMBA, Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, San Gabriel Mountains Forever, The Wilderness Society, and the Conservation Land Trust.

With these questions answered, and the assurances from multiple sources (in lieu of the final proclamation language) of our continued access, we are giving our conditional support to the proposal.

 

 

 

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