Archive for the ‘Angeles National Forest’ Category

Vetter Mountain Trail to Open May 5, 2017

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

After more than two years of dedicated volunteer work by CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers, we’re happy to announce that the Vetter Mountain Trail, near Charlton Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, will be open to the public this weekend.

Our volunteer sawyer crew has been cutting downed trees off the trail, clearing brush, and working to reopen the heavily-damaged trail. It is in one of the most badly burned areas of the 2009 Station Fire, and thousands of trees killed in the fire have been falling since then.

Vetter Mountain Trail, May 2010

We surveyed the trail for the Forest Service in 2010, the year after the Station Fire. The area had barely begun recovering and would need several more years before work could begin. Vegetation had to grow back, hillsides stabilize, and standing dead trees would fall to the ground. Intense poodle dog settled in not long after, increasing the hazards.

October 2015 we began volunteer work, needing to first clear the trail corridor as best we could, and in many cases, locate the trail. CORBA and MWBA Chainsaw crews began the heavy work. Sawyers have cut well over 100 trees that fell across the trail, and dozens more on the roads to access the trail, in ten days of chainsaw work over the last year. We cut back brush that was choking off the trail, and reopened the corridor. Three times over the past year we cleared the entire trail of downed trees, only to return months later to start again.

Volunteer Sawyers begin work on Vetter in 2015

Earlier this year, hot shots fire crews were able to fell most of the largest standing hazard trees, reducing hazards along the trail corridor. The rate of trees falling is slowing down, especially since the big windstorms of this past winter. Numerous dead trees are still standing, and will continue to pose a hazard for some time, much like many other trails in the recovering areas. Be especially aware if you’re on the trails in a burn zone during high winds or bad weather, as dead trees are especially prone to falling in these conditions.

Volunteers on National Trails Day

Last Saturday, at our urging, the Forest Service scheduled the annual National Trails Day volunteer project on the Vetter Mountain trail. Volunteer Crews from Coca Cola, MWBA, CORBA, JPL Trail Builders, Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association, National Forest Foundation and many other groups and individuals proceeded to re-establish tread and cut back brush. Sawyer crews chainsawed a dozen or more trees from the trail. Sunday, CORBA volunteer sawyers returned to continue cutting the remaining downed trees from the trail.

Today, Thursday May 4, the CORBA team will return to put some final touches on the trail, remove the last remaining obstructions, and officially remove the “trail closed” signs in preparation for the trail’s opening this weekend.

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It is part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a popular mountain bike loop that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

Once lush with majestic conifers, and known for a series of switchbacks, followed by a flowy descent along a drainage, the trail looks much less apocalyptic than it did on our first survey in 2010. The area is recovering, but it is still within the burn zone, and will look very different from it’s pre-fire state. We’re just happy to have it back!

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It was part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a route that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

SCV Trail Users Affiliate with CORBA

Friday, April 14th, 2017

SCV Trail Users volunteer at Placerita Canyon, 2016

Santa Clarita, California – April 14, 2017 – The Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users Committee (SCVTU) is pleased to announce their restructuring to become a standing committee of the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA), an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

In recent years, SCVTU has worked closely with CORBA on trail advocacy and planning in the Santa Clarita Valley and northern Los Angeles area. A committee charter was adopted by SCVTU, and approved by the CORBA Board at the March monthly meeting.

“This is a logical next step to strengthen the relationship between SCVTU and CORBA to increase our effectiveness as a bicycle advocacy organization,” said Steve Messer, CORBA President. “Together we’ll be better prepared to improve mountain biking opportunities in and around the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users has developed strong relationships with local land managers over the past several years including City, County, State, and Federal officials. SCVTU recently led a volunteer effort in the Placerita Nature Center to build check dams after the Sand Fire to protect the sensitive canyon from further environmental damage. SCVTU was also instrumental in working with the Los Angeles County to reopen the Canyon Trail to bicycles.

“CORBA has been a valuable resource to SCV Trail Users for many years. Santa Clarita is uniquely surrounded by open space affording local residents a unique opportunity for outdoor recreation on a beautiful trail network.  Our vision is to work with local land managers to improve connectivity between trail areas and to increase and improve multi-use trail opportunities for public use in the Santa Clarita area,” said Ken Raleigh, SCVTU Chairman.

The timing couldn’t be better. With a new trail master planning process for the Santa Susana Mountains about to begin, and approved City and County trail master plans that include bike parks and new trails, there is a lot happening in the Santa Clarita Valley. There are also some challenges including the Sand Fire recovery efforts now underway. The SCVTU committee is hitting the ground running.

Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users Facebook page has over 400 members. The Committee is comprised of 10 members with founding member, Ken Raleigh, serving as Chair.

2016: A Busy, Productive Year

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

2016 is behind us, and what a year it was for CORBA and mountain bikers! We were extremely busy last year, cutting trails, cutting trees, and working on behalf of the mountain bike community to ensure continued and improved access to mountain biking in the greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura County areas.

Jim Burton cuts the ceremonial ribbon, as Steve Messer, Matt Lay and Jenny Johnson of MWBA, and Ken's daughters Heather and Tania look on.

Opening of Ken Burton Trail

In 2016, the Gabrielino Trail Restoration project, with REI, Bellfree Contractors, and Los Angeles Conservation Corps, was completed.  Ken Burton Trail restoration with MWBA was completed, opening the Ken Burton trail and a popular loop after seven years of closure, thousands of volunteer hours, and nearly three years of planning.

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San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Comments

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

The Community Collaborative hands comments to the Forest Service

Last Thursday, October 27, 2016, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative group (Collaborative) finalized their consensus comments on the SGMNM Management Plan. The process was helped immensely by the extension of the public comment period through to today, November 1st.

The Collaborative took a long, hard look at the draft Management Plan, and felt that it fell short of accomplishing everything desired by the community, and mandated by the Presidential Proclamation.  I served on the Monument and Transportation Plan Coordinating Committee, tasked with developing comments for the entire Collaborative to review and approve. We broke down the management plan, and assigned sections to those with expertise and interest in the section topics.  I helped write the Sustainable Recreation section with the Sierra Club representative, while the Heritage Resources section was initially drafted by an archaeologist. Over the course of two months, numerous conference calls, and four Collaborative meetings, the comments were developed and modified into a document that all members could support.

The Collaborative’s strength comes from the diversity of its membership. When the Collaborative was convened, effort was made to bring in diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints, including some who did not initially support the Monument. Over the course of nearly two years, Collaborative members have become much more aware of and sensitive to the issues and viewpoints of other members. It’s been a slow process of building trust, and coming up with compromises that support the greater vision for the Monument.  The member list is available on the National Forest Foundation’s SGM Community Collaborative page, along with all our meeting records and documents.

The Collaborative code of conduct prohibits any Collaborative member from submitting individual or organization comments that are contradictory to those of the Collaborative.  CORBA’s comments supplement the Collaborative comments, addressing a few issues not addressed by the Collaborative. Both are posted here for review.

Nothing in the Management plan directly affects mountain bike access to existing trails. Much of the draft plan and the Collaborative comments concern social and environmental justice, transportation, and heavily impacted areas of the Monument.

The Forest Service expects to release a Final Management Plan next spring, as they read through and respond to all the public comments received. That will be followed by an objection period, then a final Record of Decision.  The Presidential Proclamation mandates the completion of the plan by October 10, 2017, the third anniversary of the establishment of the Monument.

The Collaborative’s Comments

CORBA and MWBA Comments

 

Sand Fire Closure Revised in the Angeles National Forest

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

On October 17, 2016, the Forest Service revised the Sand Fire Closure order.  The order was drawn up while the fire was still burning. It included many areas that did not burn. Now that the fire has been fully contained for several weeks The Forest Service has reduced the closure area, reopening many areas and trails that were not burned, but were in the initial closure.

2016-10-17-sand-fire-closure_01

Newly re-opened trails include:

  • the Santa Clara Truck Trail (AKA the Beast) (4N17), from Newhall Road to the top of Wilson Canyon,
  • Wilson Canyon (3N56)
  • May Canyon (3N54)
  • Viper
  • Oak Springs Trail (14W10)
  • all trails south of Mendenhall Ridge, including Condor Peak and Trail Canyon,
  • all trails east of Moody Canyon, Lightning Point and Mt. Gleason.

Closed trails include (but are not limited to):

  • Los Pinetos Trail,
  • Santa Clara Truck Trail (4N17) from Wilson Saddle to Mt. Gleason,
  • Mendenhall Ridge (3N32),
  • Powerline  (AKA Burma Road) (3N37),
  • Pacoima Canyon Trail,
  • Moody Canyon (4N33),
  • Indian Canyon (4N37),
  • Pacific Crest Trail from Mt. Gleason to Indian Canyon,
  • Dagger Flat Trail.

Little Tujunga Canyon road remains closed from Santa Clara Truck Trail (Bear Divide) to 1.5 miles north of Gold Creek Road.

The closure is needed for public safety and resource protection. The burnt areas could be subject to flash flooding, debris flows, and landslides during the coming winter rains, posing a danger to public safety. Burned areas are also much more sensitive, and can easily be damaged by going off trail.

For more information on how fires impact trails, see the interview with CORBA’s Steve Messer in Trails After the Wildfire, Mountain Bike Action.

 

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation, October 10, 2014

Next month, October 10, 2016 marks the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s proclamation declaring the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. We’re also two years in to the three-year deadline imposed on the Forest Service to develop a Management Plan for the new National Monument.  The management plan development process is well on track to meet the October 10, 2017 deadline for completion, with a draft Environmental Analysis (EA) and draft Management Plan released on August 17, 2016. The public has until November 1st to submit comments on the EA and draft Plan.

Since the Proclamation, the Forest Service has conducted the Need to Change analysis, identifying what needed to change in the current Forest Management Plan to fulfill the mandates of the Proclamation. CORBA and thousands of others subhttp://need to changemitted comments on what we thought needed to change, which the Forest Service considered when developing the EA and draft Plan. The comment period has been extended until November 1st, to ensure everyone ample time to review, while still keeping on track for the 2017 deadline.

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Chantry Flat Shuttle Service Pilot Program

Monday, September 12th, 2016
chantry_shuttle_flyer_final_high_rez_01

Click for larger version.

As part of President Obama’s proclamation declaring the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, the Forest Service was tasked with creating a management plan within three years. Meetings about the plan are being held this week.

For the first time in Forest Service history, the agency was also tasked with the development of a Transportation Plan that would achieve a number of goals: provide access for those without vehicles or other means to get to the Monument, mitigate parking and over-use problems, and address environmental justice.

Over the summer, the city of Duarte did a trial run of shuttles from the newly opened Gold Line light rail station to Fish Canyon falls trailhead, giving Forest visitors a vehicle-free way to access the forest.

Over the next few weeks, a second pilot program will be running shuttles from the Arcadia Gold Line station to Chantry Flat, where there is a historic mule pack station, numerous multi-use trails, picnic facilities, historic cabins and at least two waterfalls. The free shuttle is being operated in partnership with Car-less California and the Forest Service.

For this pilot program, unfortunately the smaller buses aren’t equipped to carry bicycles, but for those who want to ride a bicycle to the rail line, there are bike lockup facilities at the Gold Line station. The Forest Service is already aware of our desire to have bike racks available when and if a permanent shuttle service is provided.

The shuttle will operate for three weekends with the first shuttle leaving Arcadia at 7 am and the last shuttle leaving Chantry Flat at 4pm. The shuttle will run continuously, approximately every 30 – 45 minutes. Dates:

September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and 25, then October 1 and 2, and October 8 and 9. The shuttle is free, no reservations are required.

 

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan Released

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

San Gabriel Mountains National MonumentOn August 17, the Forest Service released the remaining chapters of the draft Environmental Analysis (EA) and draft Management Plan. The plan will guide the management of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (Monument) by the Forest Service.

The biggest changes are those mandated by the Presidential Proclamation, including the development of a Transportation Plan, to address parking and overcrowding. Nothing in the draft plan changes mountain bike access to trails within the Monument or the National Forest. It does however, update the current Management Plan to include the Pleasant View Ridge and Magic Mountain Wilderness areas which were designated after the current Forest Management Plan plan was last updated in 2005.

Some sources have described the draft plan as “toothless.”  It is short on specifics and lacks details of how many of the objectives and desired conditions will be achieved. However, it isn’t meant to cover specifics. Those are on-the-ground project-level decisions, that must be in compliance with the Plan. The draft Plan takes much of the current Forest Management Plan’s existing language and direction, which provides management guidance that was deemed to be in compliance with the mandates of the Presidential Proclamation. Therefore many of those sections weren’t considered to be in need of change. The Plan appears as Appendix C of the draft EA.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement and more specific direction. The San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative (Collaborative) is undertaking a deep analysis of the plan. CORBA will be submitting comments, and will also submit comments as a member organization of the Collaborative. We encourage all to attend a meeting or the online webinar and submit comments, expressing your support for continued and improved mountain biking recreation.

Meeting dates and locations:

September 10, 1 – 3 pm, Online Webinar. Register at http://bit.ly/monumentwebinar

September 14, 3 – 8 pm, Pico House, 430 N. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

September 15, 4 – 8 pm, The Centre, 20880 Centre Pointe Pkwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91350

September 17, 10 am – 2 pm, ANF Headquarters, 701 N. Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91006

October 4, 3:30 – 7:30 pm, Big Pines Lodge, Angeles Crest Highway, Wrightwood, CA 92397

The Collaborative have requested that at least one of the public meeting presentations be recorded and made available online for those whose schedules don’t allow them to attend one of the public meetings.

Public comments are due by October 17. Comments can be submitted through the project website at http://bit.ly/monumentpublicmeeting

The Forest Service aims to have the final plan, addressing any comments received, next spring, followed by a formal objection period for anyone who submitted comments and believes they were not addressed. The proclamation mandates the plan be completed by October 10, 2017.

 

Ken Burton Trail: A Success Story

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

We recently posted a report on the completion of scheduled work on the Ken Burton Trail.  On May 1st the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, who partnered with CORBA to restore the trail, held their annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser at Gould Mesa Campground in the Angeles National Forest. It was perfect timing for all to celebrate the completion of the Ken Burton trail.

Jim Burton cuts the ceremonial ribbon, as Steve Messer, Matt Lay and Jenny Johnson of MWBA, and Ken's daughters Heather and Tania look on.

Jim Burton cuts the ceremonial ribbon, as Steve Messer, Matt Lay and Jenny Johnson of MWBA, and Ken’s daughters Heather and Tania look on. Photo by Mark Skovorodko.

While the Pancake Breakfast was an all MWBA event, many CORBA members were also present to enjoy the celebration. Through the wonders of social media, we were able to connect with Ken Burton’s family, many of whom came to the event to celebrate the reopening of their “dad’s trail.” The cermonial ribbon cutting was performed by Jim Burton, Ken’s brother, with Ken’s daughters Heather and Tania, Steve Messer from CORBA, and MWBA’s Jenny Johnson as MC. Heather gave an inspiring speech about her dad, his love of trails, bicycles, and the National Forest where he served as Battallian Chief before being killed by a drunk driver on Angeles Crest Highway in 1988.  A moment of silence was observed in honor of Ken Burton before the ribbon was cut.

Plaque of recognition for Steve Messer

Plaque of recognition for Steve Messer

MWBA thoughtfully honored Steve Messer with a special plaque of appreciation, made in the style of the original Ken Burton trail sign. Volunteers who gave two or more days of volunteer work received a commemorative T-shirt and a certificate of appreciation from the Forest Service. While the project was initiated and led by Steve Messer of CORBA, it was truly a partnership with both CORBA and MWBA volunteers working together to complete the trail restoration project.

It was a great day to celebrate the completion of one trail project, as we prepare to move on to the next project: restoration of the Gabrielino trail from Ken Burton trail junction to Switzers. CORBA has applied for a grant from REI, and will partner with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Bellfree Contractors, and again, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association to complete the project.

Ken Burton Trail Restoration – Day 14

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016, was a perfect day to do trailwork. There was moisture in the ground from the week’s rain, temperatures were cool, and the crew were able to ride to and from the work site via the Gabrielino trail. A half-dozen or so volunteers were already on their way to the work site when this group photo was taken.

Some crew members were already on their way to the work site

Some crew members were already on their way to the work site

While several volunteers rode in via the Gabrielino, some opted to ride up to Brown Mountain and enjoy the fruits of their labor on the way down Ken Burton trail to the work site. It was the first time we had been able to ride all the way down to the 16th switchback without interruption. The volunteers who rode down Ken Burton trail were all in agreement that the efforts of the group over the previous five months had been well-worth the experience.

We were fortunate enough to have several SoCal High school league student-athletes and coaches join us for the day, along with members of the IMTBTrails.com mountain bike forum out of Santa Clarita.

This was a heavily damaged section

This was a heavily damaged section

With the major brush work completed, the crew split into groups, concentrated on re-cutting the bench along a heavily damaged section of the trail, restoring outslope, and removing remaining roots and stubs from the tread.

Another crew worked diligently to rebuild the 16th switchback, using rock extracted from the tread to build an outside retaining wall on top of the old wire basket retaining structure that had failed.  By day’s end, the switchback was completely rebuilt. We were fortunate to have the expert assistance of Hans from Bellfree Contractors on this major effort.

Rebuilding Switchback 16

Rebuilding Switchback 16

By day’s end the crew had completed tread work almost all the way down to the 17th switchback, restoring one of the more heavily damaged sections of the trail so far.

So far, 81 individual volunteers have put in 1,408 total person-hours of work on this project in 14 scheduled work days, plus another 12 prep days.  This is an impressive effort to restore this much-loved trail that was built by mountain bikers from the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association in the early 90s.

20160319-Ken Burton Trailwork Progress

The next scheduled group work day on Ken Burton will be with Mount Wilson Bicycling Association on April 17, though there will be additional prep days before then. Contact Steve@corbamtb.com if you’re interested in helping prep before then (likely April 10).