Archive for the ‘California’ Category

President’s Message: 2015 – A Year in Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

2015 has been one of the most active in CORBA’s history. There has been so much happening in our local mountains, in our sport, in our public lands, in the political landscape, and in bicycle advocacy in general. As always, CORBA has done its best to stay on top of the issues, to be leaders in the trail community, and to have a positive impact on our trails, our public lands, our community and our sport. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening this year, showing how your membership dollars and donations are being used to benefit all mountain bikers in the Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.

Advocacy

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Much has happened this year on the mountain bike advocacy front. One of the biggest issues has been the start of the process to develop a Management Plan for our year-old San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The National Forest Foundation convened a Community Collaborative group to develop a broad base of support from a diverse range of stakeholders to help guide the Forest Service in its management of the Angeles National Forest and the SGMNM. CORBA has been involved from the start, in 2014 on the committee to establish the Collaborative, and this year as an active participant in the Collaborative. Forty-five diverse interests are represented, some of whom have traditionally found themselves at odds with our community. This has truly expanded our outreach and strengthened our place in the community.

We’re also continuing to work with Los Angeles County on several fronts: the Castaic Area Trail Master Plan, the Los Angeles County Trails Manual, the now-completed Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master plan, the LA County Park Needs assessment, the Altadena Crest Trail Restoration, the Puente Hills Landfill and bicycle access to trails in general.

This year we joined the Los Angeles Bike Park Collective. We have pending Bike Park proposals with Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, City of Glendale, and Thousand Oaks. Fillmore Bike Park opened this past Spring.

We’re closely monitoring the development of the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Master Plan, which is expected to come out in draft form in 2016. We saw the Rim of the Valley Study completed. Legislation was introduced to create a new National Recreation Area, and expand our new National Monument. We’ve worked with legislators on a pending Wilderness bill, to ensure that it has minimum impact on mountain biking. We’re continuing to work with the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society to ensure that their efforts to protect our public lands do not impact our ability to enjoy them.

This year new e-bike legislation was introduced. Early drafts could have been interpreted to allow electric mountain bikes on non-motorized trails. We worked to clarify that this does not makes e-bike legal on trails. We’ll be watching the e-bike debate closely as they become more popular.

There’s a pending application to build a hotel on the DeAnza Trailhead. CORBA took the lead on asking the City of Calabasas to do a full EIR.

Outside the area, we’re keeping an eye on wilderness proposals in the Sierra Nevada mountains and BLM land swap proposals in the San Jacinto Mountains, both with the potential to close trails to bikes.

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State Parks Fire Road Maintenance Upcoming

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

We have learned that in a couple of weeks, California Conservation Corps Crews under the direction of California State Parks will start brushing the East Topanga Fire Road in Topanga State Park as the first phase of road maintenance this fiscal year. The second phase of project will be re-grading the road to “out slope” the road for more natural drainage of the road. The notice below will be posted on the East Topanga Fire Road to inform the public of the maintenance project. This project is part of large scale project to “out slope” all  State Park Fire Roads in the Santa Monica Mountains to reduce sedimentation in the Santa Monica Bay. If you have any questions, please contact Dale Skinner at 310/699-1717.

FireRoadGrading

Action Alert: Save the Palm Canyon Epic

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
Epic views of the Santa Rosa Mountains

Epic views of the Santa Rosa Mountains

Palm Canyon Epic (PCE) is one of the iconic long-distance rides of Southern California. It’s a spectacular point-to-point route in the Santa Rosa Mountains, south of Palm Springs and Cathedral City. It’s a place that many dedicated mountain bikers make an annual winter pilgrimage to ride.

Though it’s outside CORBA’s territory, many CORBA members and supporters ride the trail. The BLM has completed an environmental document for a land swap with the Agua Caliente band of Cahuila Indians. When the land was parceled out in the 1800’s, it was done in a checkerboard fashion. Alternating lots were deeded to the Indian tribe and to the U.S. government through the BLM. The land swap is an attempt to consolidate ownership of contiguous properties so the land can be more easily managed.

While the tribe’s stewardship of their lands has been positive, the tribe doesn’t allow bicycles on trails.  They charge a fee for hikers and equestrians. In the land swap, portions of the Palm Canyon trail, and many other trails important to the local communities, would become tribal land. Though the tribe have stated they would keep the trail open, there is nothing in this environmental document requiring them to do so. They’ve already posted “no bikes” signs on the Indian Potrero trail, which crosses tribal land for a short distance, and is a part of the classic PCE.

Now is the time to make your voice heard and write to the BLM. We believe it is in everyone’s best interest to keep these trails within public ownership (BLM). Scenario 1 is our preferred option, which keeps the trails with the BLM. Our colleagues at the San Diego Mountain Bike Association provide more background information and have drafted a letter that you can cut and paste. You can find their letter here. Comments must be received by March 29th, 2015!

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Beautiful and challenging

Whether you’ve already ridden it and love it, or would like to be able to do so in the future, do it now!  It will only take a minute or two of your time, and every letter or email sent counts.

A classic long-distance desert ride

A classic long-distance desert ride

If you’re not familiar with this epic rides, you can watch a couple of Palm Canyon mountain biking videos.

 

 

Angeles National Forest Recreation Fee Proposed Changes

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Adventure PassThe Forest Service has proposed major revisions to the Angeles National Forest recreational fees. Similar revisions are proposed for the San Bernardino National Forest, Cleveland National Forest and Los Padres National Forest.

The proposed changes will result in fees being required only at concentrated, developed sites, while larger areas of the forest will become free for public use. Fee amounts will remain the same, at $5 for a day pass, or $30 for an annual adventure pass.

Under the new fee structure, fees are to be charged only where there are services and developed facilities including bathrooms, kiosks/interpretive signs, trash collection, picnic tables and security patrols. Sites lacking one or more of the above will be free.

In the Angeles Front Country, for example, fees  would continue to be required at Millard Day Use Area, Switzers Picnic Area, Red Box, Skyline Park (Mount Wilson), and Chantry Flats. All other front country areas would become free for public use. Note that the forest service has already stopped enforcement of passes at the areas where fees will be dropped under the new fee structure. Full details of front country changes are available here.

While CORBA supports this more reasonable and appropriate fee structure, we do have concerns that it may result in reduced levels of service across the National Forest as a whole. The financial impacts of the proposed changes are as yet undetermined. National Forest budgets have faced continued reductions over the past decade, and staff levels are at an all-time low. Recreational Fees have helped fill the budget shortfalls, funding numerous improvements to facilities within the National Forest.

The California Recreational Resource Advisory Committee (R-RAC), a citizen’s Federal Advisory Committee, is charged with representing the public interest in matters of recreational fees and other issues. The proposed changes are on the R-RAC agenda for for January 15-16, 2014. Public comments to the committee must be made by January 6, 2014, emailed to: twilton@fs.fed.us.

Area maps and detailed descriptions of the affected areas of the Angeles National Forest can be found at:

For our other Southern California National Forests, visit their respective pages at:

 

 

 

What CORBA Does

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners. We all love trails.

Recently a bicycle club-team representative  contacted CORBA wanting to see what more they could do to get more of the trails that are currently closed to bicycles opened up to shared use. A couple of comments from the correspondence were that they thought that showing up in larger numbers to public meetings would help, and that they thought the main reason that trails were closed were because of an influential public anti-bicycle lobby.

I wrote back to the person who contacted me, and in doing so came up with what I think is a good overview of what CORBA has been doing for the past 26 years, and continues to do on behalf of all public backcountry trail users (see below). Yes, CORBA is a mountain bike organization, but we are more than that, and here’s why: We believe that shared use works better because it disperses use, rather than concentrating it. When you disperse use, you reduce congestion, and when you reduce congestion, you reduce confrontation. Moreover, it has been shown that where shared use trails exist, it works. Maybe not perfectly, but certainly better than where there are restrictions to bicycles, because shared use also fosters cooperation. Bicycles do mix when operated considerately and with the safety and serenity of other trail users in mind. And that’s the crux of the issue: If bicyclists would simply slow down around others, including other bicyclists, they would be solving the problem of both dangerous speed, and the “startle factor,” or the disruption of another’s peaceful enjoyment of the backcountry.

Here’s what I wrote to that bicycle club team member:

This year CORBA celebrated its 26th anniversary. In that time we have made many strides to opening trails to shared use (hiking, equestrian, bicycle) in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, and Eastern Ventura County. We have participated in hundreds of public meetings with land managers over the years. Land managers recognize and continue to adapt to the growing bicycle population and changing demographic profile of the trail user community. They are certainly aware of the needs and desires of the mountain biking community through CORBA’s efforts, which include quarterly meetings with principal agency managers (National Park Service, State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority). We are also in constant communication with these agencies and/or when the need arises to address a specific issue. CORBA also works closely with the Mountain Bike Unit which aids the rangers and community with safety and education. CORBA also schedules and organizes regular trail maintenance work days s in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. CORBA is also heavily involved with the Angeles National Forest with trail maintenance and volunteer patrol participation. Due to CORBA’s efforts, most of the singletrack trails built in the last 25 years are shared use (not to mention a lot of the singletrack that already existed not getting shut down).

 As you can see, there is more to getting involved than just showing up at meetings in large numbers. The issue of bikes not being allowed on trails is more than just politically active opponents to bicycles; it is mired in an outdated management policy of restriction that is predicated to a large degree on ignorance and a status quo mentality. Within the last few years there has been a systemic change for adopting shared use as the overriding management strategy. It is a slow moving process but we do see a very strong indication that within the next few years we will see many more trails opening to shared use on a statewide basis than currently exists. This change comes from consistent efforts not only by CORBA, but mountain bike advocates all over the state, with assistance from the International Mountain Bicycle Association (of which CORBA was a founding club in 1988).

 The one concern that is always at the forefront of managers’ minds is safety. It is agreed by everyone that bicycles are an acceptable form of public open space trail recreation. However, it is when riders go too fast around other users as to make it an unsafe or even just an unpleasant experience that gets mountain bikers a bad reputation, and gets the managers to thinking about restricting bicycles. If everyone would just slow down when passing others, and slow down into corners so they don’t scare others on the other side, we would pretty much solve the problem. I am not saying you shouldn’t go fast, I’m just saying do it when conditions are safe. 

Show Us Your Smile

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

smileSometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We have created this message tag with the help of BikeTags (biketag.wordpress.com) so that we can spread the message of goodwill, peace, and harmony throughout the world. Or maybe just the message “don’t worry, be happy.” The idea is to show other trail users that we belong, we care, and we can coexist. Similar to the SoCal High School Cycling League’s “spirit of howdy”, it’s a way to remember to slow down and smell the sage brush.

We’ll be making the CORBA Smile Tags available to anyone who wants one, just send an email request to info@corbamtb.com. We’ll be giving away prizes for the best photos of the tags on your bikes while on the trail. Photos will be judged on originality, creativity, and overall quality. (Details to follow in the coming weeks). The grand prize will be a Niner full suspension frameset, donated by Niner.

OK, so maybe putting the Smile Tag on your bike* won’t save the world. But a lot of times a little smile can go a long way.

*The Smile Tag is a high quality plastic laminated product and comes with all hardware necessary to mount on a handlebar or under the seat. If mounting to the handlebar, a hole may need to be punched at the bottom of the tag to help secure the tag to a brake or derailleur cable (see photo).

 

 

Why? Good Question!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

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By Mark Langton

It was recently brought to our attention that newly elected president of Equestrian Trails, Inc. (ETI) Robert Foster, a retired law enforcement officer, donates his time as an emergency medical technician at So Cal High School Mountain Bike Racing League races. Mr. Foster is a staunch supporter of the league, and in his president’s message in ETI’s most recent newsletter he stated that it’s a new era in our public open space trail systems, and mountain bikers are part of the trail user community so we all should try to figure out ways to get along.

Now I’ve been doing this advocacy thing for over 25 years, and I’ve experienced a lot of encouraging progress in the areas of shared use, especially when it comes to opening more trails to bicycle use. To hear the president of an organization that has historically had some of its members rally against mountain bikes say that we need to get along is truly groundbreaking. But things like this come fewer and more far between than I’d like, and during these 25 years I have often asked myself “why am I doing this?” The answer is always “because it’s the right thing to do.” This might sound insane (insanity once being defined by Albert Einstein as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results), and in many ways this might be true. But then something like Robert Foster’s reasonable position comes along and I think to myself, maybe we have been doing the right thing after all.

Over the years we have heard many reasons people feel mountain bikes don’t mix on shared use trails, but only one is valid; people riding their bikes too fast at the wrong time and place (around other trail users) is just not a pleasant experience for the people being passed at an inappropriate speed. As I’ve said many times before, we all have within our power the ability to solve this issue: slow down. In other words, use caution when around others. Let me put it another way; your actions represent the entire mountain bike community. The smile you create through a pleasant trail encounter goes a long way.

Be The Solution

Monday, December 10th, 2012

By Mark Langton

I agree with hikers. I agree that when a mountain biker goes by me too close and too fast, it’s scary and unsettling. And they don’t have to be going fast, just too fast for the conditions. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a fire road, no problem. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a singletrack trail less than six inches from me, then I have a bit of a problem.

I agree with hikers right up to the point when they say all mountain bikers should be banned from trails because some of them go too fast around other users. You can’t tell me I’m banned from the trails because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with going fast, as long as it’s being done safely (and within reason). If mountain bikers go so fast as to create a danger to themselves–such as crashing and having to utilize tax payer money to get medical treatment and evacuation from the backcountry–then people could point at the mountain bike community as creating an undue burden on the resource management agency. But as we’ve seen, crashes of this nature are relatively few. But the agency still takes notice when there’s an increase.

I know there are those out there, myself included, who are angry at the people who disregard common sense and speed past others with no regard for common courtesy. They’ve replied many times to our blog posts. They are angry because they know that the people who are acting irresponsibly know they are doing it, but continue to do it anyway in spite of the fact they are giving the mountain biking community a bad name; when all they have to do is very simple. Be The Solution. Just slow down around others.

As an experiment today I stopped in the middle of a singletrack trail as a rider approached me coming downhill. Although he had plenty of room to see me, he ran into me, and nearly flew over the handlebar. He was apologetic, and the conversation we had was enlightening; because he was used to others getting out of his way, he just assumed I would, too.  I recounted an instance when I was riding along a trail and I came upon a hiker with her head down, and as I slowed to a stop she looked up, startled, and nearly fell over backward. Had I assumed she heard me and was going to get out of my way, I probably would have run into her.

It’s never going to be completely safe on the trails. There are always going to be accidents, but by slowing down around others (and maybe even slowing down for blind corners), we might be able to avoid a lot of very avoidable ones.

 

 

 

 

Resolve to Solve in 2013

Monday, December 10th, 2012

How many of you have New Year’s Resolutions that you are hoping to keep? There is one you can make and keep, guaranteed. It will help you, the mountain bike community, and the trail community at large. Ready? Slow down when passing others!

How many things in life can you do that actually solve a problem? On our trails, the one justifiable complaint about mountain bikers is that they sometimes go too fast when passing others, which can be scary and upsetting,even to other cyclists. So all you have to do is slow down when passing, and you SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Slowing down while passing others on our shared-use trails is a pure win-win proposition. The people who you pass feel good about mountain bikers. WIN! You feel good because you didn’t scare anyone, and everyone has a pleasant exchange. WIN!

Here’s a suggestion: Treat others you are passing on the trail as if you are holding the door open for them. That brief pause is a show of consideration, courtesy, and humanity that will come back to you and the mountain bike community in many positive ways.

It’s up to you. Would you rather finish your ride knowing you did something positive for mountain bikers and trails users, or that you made it worse for yourself and the mountain bike community? You CAN make a difference. And all it takes is slowing down when passing other users!

 

CORBA’s State Parks Change in Use PEIR Comments

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

CORBA has submitted comments on California State Parks Change In Use Programmatic Environmental Impact Report. Our comments are included below.

Currently, the Yearling trail has been approved for a change in use, pending the implementation of “Project Specific Requirements” which include a re-route and other trail modifications, for which the State does not presently have the resources to complete. Recently Bill’s Trail in Marin was also approved for multi-use, after more than a five-year process. Our comments reflect our desire to see the process streamlined and sped up.

While this is a step forward for gaining access to trails for bicycles in California State Parks, we see the process as overly burdensome and resource intensive. Given the State’s track record of meeting its stated goals and completing tasks, we have to question whether this additional process will slow down or speed up the process of opening trails to bicycles. However, the PEIR does in fact include some important documentation and acknowledgements of the legitimacy and appropriateness of allowing bicycles on trails, though it risks homogenizing State Parks trails to a “standard” that we feel will reduce the diversity of trail experiences for bicyclists. We’ll be reporting on the Change in Use process as the final version is released.

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