Archive for the ‘California’ Category

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

20120421111-Malibu-Creek-State-Park-Hike-Bike-Run-Hoof-300x199

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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IMBA Trail Care Crew Report from California

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Most applications requesting Trail Care Crew visits originate from mountain bike advocacy organizations. In the 23 visits we have made, this stop in central California was only the second time that a land management agency — the Georgetown District of the U.S. Forest Service — made the request. It’s something we think the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews will start seeing more of as federal, state and local land management agencies learn how much there is to gain from working with outside partners.

Limited budgets and ongoing funding cuts are a grim reality for many Forest Service districts. Partnerships between land managers and local mountain biking advocacy organizations offer much-needed relief — bike clubs can supply knowledge, experience, volunteer labor and more to help fill the gaps between the vision for new trails and the reality of getting them built.

The Georgetown District staff we met with are excited about what they can accomplish by working with local mountain bike advocacy organizations, including the Folsom-Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition and the Forest Trails Alliance. The Eldorado has great potential, with good existing trails and the potential to develop some great ones. The nearby trails in Auburn are popular and sometimes a bit overcrowded, so developing the Eldorado’s trail network holds the potential to benefit riders and lessen their impacts by spreading them out over a greater area.
The name “Eldorado” conjures an imaginary place of great treasure and opportunity. Will California’s Eldorado National Forest live up to such a grand definition? We think they are on their way.

— Jake and Jenny

From the International Mountain Bicycling Association‘s quarterly publication Trail News, Spring 2012

Save the date!  CORBA will be hosting the IMBA Trail Care Crew October 18 – 21 later this year.

SoCal High School Cycling League Announces Dates for 2012 Summer Outreach Tour

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Learn how to form a high school club

For the third year the SoCal High School Cycling League is taking its show on the road and providing a series of informational events to people interested in seeing a high school mountain bike club form at their local high school.

“Many people have heard of the League and want to start or be involved with a high school club but they just don’t know where to begin,” said SoCal League Director Matt Gunnell. “These events are designed to give people a brief overview of the League to allow them to confidently head down the path toward participation as a team founder, coach, or student-athlete. Learning how to get the ball rolling before school is out for summer will allow folks to get a head start on forming clubs for the spring 2013 season.”

There is no charge to attend and no RSVP is needed. Events are targeted at prospective club founders, prospective coaches, teachers, school administrators, parents, riders, and supporters. All stops are held at local bike shops that support the SoCal League and the clubs in the League!

A downloadable and printable PDF tour flyer is available HERE and the dates/locations are as follows:

May 26 (Saturday) at Trek Superstore 10AM-6PM
Grand opening event benefits the SoCal League. Special guests, rides, and a great auction!
1617 Capalina Road
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 599-9735

May 29 (Tuesday) at Casino Bicycles 7PM
43906 East Florida Ave (Hwy 74)
Hemet, CA 92544
(951) 927-7796

May 30 (Wednesday) at Rock n’ Road Cyclery 7PM
6282 Irvine Boulevard
Irvine, CA 92620
(949) 733-2453

May 31 (Thursday) at Cynergy Cycles 7PM
2300 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 857-1500

June 5 (Tuesday) at Main Street Cycles 7PM
311 East Main Street
Santa Maria, CA 93454
(805) 922-5577

June 6 (Wednesday) at Pasadena Cyclery 7PM
1670 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 584-6391

About the SoCal High School Cycling League
The SoCal High School Cycling League was organized to provide a well-defined race season for youth racers and to promote the formation of teams at public and private high schools. With the cooperation of local race promoters and our sponsors, the League organizes a first class series of races designed for high school aged riders and is easiest way for youth to get involved in the challenging and exciting world of competitive cycling. The SoCal League was kick-started with a generous grant from the founding SoCal sponsor, Easton Foundations, and is also generously supported by founding national sponsor, Specialized Bicycle Components, as well as Jeep, SRAM, Trek Bicycles, Clif Bar and Co., Primal Wear, QBP, Cynergy Cycles, El Monte RV, Dr. John Gunnell Oncology, Kaiser Federal Bank, Kayo Clothing, Rock N’ Road Cyclery, Turner Bikes, CamelBak, GU Sports, Kinetic, Maxxis, adidas Eyewear, Cyclingnews.com, Dirt Rag, Feedback Sports, Fort Lewis College, Fox Racing Shox, Mountain Bike Action, Ritchey Designs, Sidi, and WTB. For more information on the League, visit www.socaldirt.org or contact Matt Gunnell at matt@socaldirt.org, Tel. (818) 415-1133.

2012 Trails and Greenways Conference

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Multi-use trail event.

Multi-use trails. We can and must get along.

CORBA was very much involved in last week’s California Trails and Greenways Conference. This annual event brings together land managers at the Federal, State, County and City levels, along with resource planners, volunteers, non-profit organizations and professional landscape architects and trail builders.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Navigating Radical Change.”  The most radical of all changes that land managers are facing is the shrinking of budgets for trail and open space projects. Another is the changing demographic of trail users.

Navigating radical change - mutli-use friendly pinch points

Navigating radical change - mutli-use friendly pinch points on Tapia Spur

Many sessions at the conference talked about the importance of engaging volunteers, of reaching out to foster public-private partnerships between land managers and non profit advocacy groups.
CORBA has already been putting into practice many of these principles, partnering with the Forest Service and State Parks to help maintain trails; partnering with the So Cal High School League to empower the next generation of off-road cyclists as advocates and stewards.

CORBA President Mark Langton participated in a rousing panel presentation on the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, a multi-use trail system that has worked successfully with minimal conflict for more than two decades.  An entertaining keynote address was given by conservation celebrity Ed Begley Junior. He treated the attendees to stories of how and why he came to be so ingrained within the conservation movement.

Among the volunteer groups in attendance, there were at least five bicycling advocacy groups represented. IMBA’s new regional director Patrick Kell was there, along with representatives from the San Diego Mountain Bike Association, Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers, Santa Barbara Trail Volunteers, CORBA, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and other groups.

Cycling trail advocates from across California

Cycling trail advocates from across California

On Friday morning of the conference, 8 bicycle adovocates joined Steve Messer and past CORBA board member Hans Kiefer in a tour of Rocky Peak. They had a great ride, showing once again that there is some great mountain biking around Los Angeles.

A conference such as this is vital for bringing disparate user groups, land managers and trail stewards together, where we always learn we have much more in common than we think. The fact that working together is often the only way anything can be accomplished was one of the most important take-home messages from the conference.

Everyone can get along

Everyone can get along

On Saturday, after the conference, Orange County’s Trails4All brought 6 equestrians, 4  hikers, and about a dozen mountain bikers from CORBA, SHARE, SDMBA, CCCMB together for a ride/hike/run/hoof event. We travelled together on the trails of Malibu Creek State Park, showing again that where there is respect and cooperation it is very possible for all user groups to co-exist peacefully on the trails.

Our since thanks to the organizers, the presenters, the sponsors, and to all our fellow attendees at the conference. These meetings underscore the importance of working together, and create at an atmosphere conducive to constructive and informative exchanges of information and viewpoints. We look forward to next year’s Trails and Greenways conference in Lake Tahoe.

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

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