Archive for the ‘Conejo Valley’ Category

Thousand Oaks Planning Commission Hearing for Sapwi Trails

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

In 2012, CORBA put out the call for the public to come to Thousand Oaks to show support for a new Bike Park facility at what was then called Lang Ranch.  You responded in droves, and the Conejo Rec and Parks District heard. Now renamed the Sapwi Trails Community Park, the re-envisioned park includes many items the mountain biking community asked for.

In our last bike park update we had little news other than the environmental process was moving forward.  The project’s environmental review is now complete.

The most recent iteration of the park’s master plan includes a beginner pump track at one end of park as a component of a smaller, local neighborhood park. The neighborhood park at the corner of Erbes Road and Scenicpark Street also includes restrooms, a boulder garden, picnic areas, a practice disc golf basket, parking areas, and trail connections to the rest of the larger Community Park.

The larger Community Park includes disc golf, a multi-use trails network, bicycle skills features along some of those trails, interpretive exhibits, additional parking, and a non-motorized model glider port among other things. It also features a dedicated area for a bike skills park. The plan shows two pump tracks and skills features, but is there only as a placeholder. The Bike Park will undergo a separate design process, based on input from the bicycling community.  The master plan is available at the CRPD web site, and archived here.

Sapwi Trails Conceptual Bike Park Plan THousand Oaks

Note this is a “conceptual” placeholder design for the bike park area.

The plans will be presented to the City of Thousand Oaks Planning Commission for approval on October 10 at 6 pm.  We urge anyone, especially those local to the Conejo Valley, to attend the Commission hearing, fill out a speaker card, and express your support for the plan, including the trails and bike skills park components (and any other components you’d like to support).

 

Help build another new trail during the COSCA Annual Trailwork Day, October 15

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Join CORBA, SMMTC, COSCA and other volunteer groups to work on the Conejo Open Space trails in Thousand Oaks.

This year we’ll be building a new trail, about 0.7 miles long, that leads from the top of the steep ‘Baxter Road’ in Newbury Park around and down to near the south end of the Hawk Canyon Trail in the Western Plateau / Conejo Canyons.

There will be a thank you lunch and prize drawings at noon after the work. This is a great event with lots of like-minded folks to help out. If you use the trails in Thousand Oaks, come out and help build and maintain them! No prior experience is necessary and all volunteers work at their own pace, taking plenty of time to rest and chat with other trail enthusiasts!

This annual Conejo Valley event always helps to put some very sweet trails into good shape. Be sure to stay afterwards for the free lunch and raffle.

Details are available on our 2016 COSCA Annual Trailwork Day event on Meetup.com. While there, register online to show your support!

Things to bring:

• work gloves
• long pants and long sleeved shirt
• water, snack
• sunglasses and sunblock

Tools and instructions on how to use them safely will be provided. There will be a free thank-you lunch and prize give-away afterwards from noon until 2:00 pm.

Report on the 2016 COSCA Spring Trailwork Day on May 19

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

Although we didn’t have to repair humongous El Nino rain damage that we were expecting, we still had ruts to fix that had been growing for years.

Filling in the big rut in the middle of the trail and re-establishing the gentle slope so water will run off the trail, rather than down it and making a rut.

Filling in the big rut in the middle of the trail and re-establishing the gentle slope so water will run off the trail, rather than down it and making a rut.

About 40 people volunteered to help work on trails today for the annual COSCA Spring Trailwork Day. We split into two groups, about 15 working on the bottom of ‘Space Mountain‘ (the singletrack section of the Los Robles Trail West) while the rest went to the ‘Lily Tomlin Trail’ which connects the East and West halves of the Los Robles Trail. Both trails had major ruts, not having had any restoration work done on them for years. The work consisted of filling in ruts, restoring the trail outslope so water would run off it rather than down it, and building drainage nicks. On Space Mountain, we restored most of the first 1500′ of trail. Naturally, if we’d had more people and time, we could have done a lot more. The soil was perfect – moist and easy to dig and pack, and there was a low cloud cover to keep the temperatures cool.

IMG_2194Space Mountain is CORBA’s adopted trail and we’ve worked it a number of times in the past, but then we started at the top, or half way down, and worked our way to the bottom. This is the first time we’ve started at the bottom and had enough time to properly fix the ruts.

The group working on Space Mountain consisted of 6 from CORBA, 6 from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council (SMMTC) Meetup hiking group, and the rest from the Weekday Trailblazers Meetup hiking group. A few other Weekday Trailblazers were working on the Lily Tomlin Trail along with a number of SMMTC and other community volunteers.

After about 3 1/2 hours, we all headed back to the parking area where Rangers were preparing a barbecue lunch for the volunteers. Ranger burgers, hot dogs, chili and vegi-burgers always taste great! Chatting over our food, it was clear that everybody was happy with and proud of the work they’d accomplished to improve the trails for everyone. CORBA and the COSCA Rangers thank everyone for coming out to help and really appreciate their effort!

You can see more photos in our 2016 COSCA Spring Trailwork photo gallery.

Time for lunch!

Time for lunch!

COSCA Spring Trailwork Day March 19th

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the Annual COSCA Spring Trailwork Day. We will be working to restore part of Space Mountain (Los Robles West) and other nearby multiuse trails.

At noon, following the morning of trail-building, workers will be treated to hamburgers / vegi-burgers, chips, fruit and drinks while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow trail enthusiasts!

Wear protective clothing (long-legged pants, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses), sturdy shoes, gloves, hat and sunscreen.

No experience is necessary and you work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively will be provided. Must be 18+ years of age or accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. Beware of poison oak, ticks & rattlesnakes.

Follow directions of park rangers and trail crew leaders at all times.

Pre-registration is required so that COSCA will have enough tools, crew leaders and food!

Directions to the meeting place and other details are included on the online registration page.

Rim of the Valley Final Study Recommendations Released

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Final Study Recommendations

Final Study Recommendations

The National Park Service today released the Final Study Recommendations for the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study. CORBA has been involved in the Rim of the Valley process since congress authorized the study in 2008, and even before that when the concept was only for a Rim of the Valley trail. We are pleased to see the final recommendation includes most of what we–and many other groups and individuals–suggested in our comments. The recommendation is a hybrid of Alternatives C and D of the draft released last June.

The Secretary of the Interior transmitted the final study to Congress on February 16, 2016.   The final study recommends a 170,000-acre addition to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.The selected alternative would add portions of the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco corridors, the Verdugo Mountains-San Rafael Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains foothills, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Conejo Mountain area to the national recreation area. Within the expanded area are: habitat types that contribute to the high biodiversity of the Santa Monica Mountains; functioning wildlife corridors; highly scenic landscapes; historic and archeological sites; geologic and paleontological resources; thousands of acres of open space and recreation areas; and miles of trails, all of which provide exceptional public enjoyment opportunities. Expanding Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would provide new recreational opportunities for one of the most densely populated areas in the United States.

No lands currently managed by the Forest Service (Angeles National Forest and Los Padres National Forest) are included in the proposed boundary expansion of the SMMNRA. However, the National Park Service could partner with the Forest Service on projects, as needed, and as permitted under their current “service first authority.”  Existing land managers would continue to manage their lands, but the inclusion of those lands within the expanded boundary of the SMMNRA would allow the NPS to work with them to acquire land from willing sellers, or invest in capitol improvements for recreation or habitat improvements.

The study at this point is just a recommendation from the Secretary of the Interior to Congress. It will be up to congress to take those recommendations and act on them. Or they may not. It many be many years, if ever, before the boundaries of the SMMNRA are adjusted as recommended in the Study.

The final study report, errata from the draft study and an analysis of public comments submitted can be found at http://www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley/

Giant Bikes Staff Restore Potrero Ridge Trail Switchbacks

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

IMG_1612.jpgFor the second year in a row, staff from Giant Bikes’ US Headquarters in Newbury Park volunteered to spend a morning fixing up a local trail yesterday. COSCA (Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency) Head Ranger Bruce Pace suggested that the switchback section of the Potrero Ridge Trail from the Reino Road trailhead would be a suitable location – it’s very popular among cyclists and the tread hasn’t been repaired for years. This trail was first built in 2005 during a visit from the Suburu/IMBA Trail Care Crew.

IMG_1603.jpgThe Giant staff gathered at the trailhead by 9:00 am. Most of the work was on the tread – cleaning drainage nicks and installing new ones, widening one of the tight switchbacks and restoring a flat and slightly outsloped surface so the water would run off the trail instead of creating a rut by running down the middle. One of the two COSCA rangers who were overseeing the work used a gas-powered hedge trimmer to cut back the light chaparral that was starting to overgrow the trail, with help from one or two Giant volunteers to remove the cuttings. Finally, two shortcuts that some hikers were using instead of the switchbacks (‘trail cuts’) were armored by covering with small rocks to keep them from turning into big ruts.

CORBA volunteer trail crew leader Steve Clark coordinated the event between Giant Bikes and the COSCA rangers, and helped guide the volunteers in how to use the tools to fix up the trail.

IMG_1604.jpgA combination of very enthusiastic volunteers and soft dirt, the result of last week’s rains, meant the work went very quickly. Shortly after noon, everybody headed back to the trailhead, and then on to a local restaurant and sports bar where Giant treated staff and crew leaders to lunch.

IMG_1645.jpgEveryone did a great job and now the trail is in much better condition through the switchbacks! This is the second year that Giant has helped restore the local trails (last year they built a bypass around a steep and loose section on the Los Robles Trail West). CORBA and COSCA thank Giant for their willingness to give their time to help the local trails and community of hikers, bikers and equestrians. We’re looking forward to this becoming a perhaps official annual event!

You can see more photos of the volunteers at work in our photo gallery.

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.

(more…)

El Nino Watch: Trail Damage and Riding after it Rains

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

We are having a severe El Nino event this winter; as a result the weather forecast is for many heavy rainstorms in the early months of 2016. That will help our drought situation, but will have seriously bad impacts on our trails. As well as muddy conditions that interfere with their use, described  below, the rains could be severe enough to erode some trails into huge ruts, and even wash them away in some cases. There may be more mudslides in Pt Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) like we had last year. Furthermore, the rain will spur the chaparral to overgrow the trails, a condition we haven’t had to deal with much over the past couple of years because of the drought. The combination of waterlogged soil and high winds could blow trees over. We’re expecting to have special trailwork days to repair these damaged trails and hope many mountain bikers will want to help us get them back into shape!

Most trails in our local riding area don’t respond well to rain. They have a high content of clay that turns into sticky, slippery muck that binds to everything it touches. It builds up on the tires, like a snowball rolling downhill, until it jams on the frame and the wheels won’t budge. Some models of clipless pedals won’t let go when full of this mud, resulting in the bike and the attached rider lying sideways in a puddle, or worse.

Most wet trails don’t respond well to use until they’ve had time to dry out. Hikers and horses make holes and ridges in the trail that become as hard as concrete when the trail dries. These holes and ridges are good for twisting ankles.

As a rule of thumb, if your foot, tire or hoof makes an impression more than about 1/8 inch deep in the dirt, the trail is still too soft to use. Give it another day or two to dry out before using it!

On wet trails, bikes make grooves along the trail. The next time it rains, the water runs down these grooves and turns them into little ruts, then large ruts that destroy the trail.

The mud is particularly hard to remove. It sticks to the bike and shoes, no matter the efforts to remove it, rubbing off on the bike rack, car carpet and gas/brake pedals, making them slippery. Once home, it takes the careful use of a garden hose to remove the mud but not force water into the sensitive parts of the bike.

For these reasons, riders are well advised to stay off the trails after a rain until they have dried. How long to stay off? That depends on a number of factors including the particular trail, how much rain it received, how much sun it gets after the rain (is it in the shade or face south?), how warm and windy the weather is, and so on. After an isolated light rain you can probably ride the next day. After a heavy rain, you should wait several days. This is something where common sense and experience will help. Remember, tracks deeper than 1/8″ mean the trail is still too soft to use!

All is not lost when the trails are soaking! There are a few trails that hold up well when wet because they have more sand and rock that doesn’t hold the water. Here are a few you should know about:

Space Mountain (Los Robles Trail West) to the picnic table is almost always rideable, even right after a big storm. However, it can be pretty mucky from the picnic table to Potrero Road.
Rosewood Trail is pretty good, but not quite as resilient as Space Mountain.
Zuma Ridge Motorway from Encinal (the bottom in Malibu is muddy)
Dirt Mulholland around Topanga State Park.
-Brown Mountain Fireroad
-Most San Gabriel Mountains trails made up of decomposed granite
-Beaudry Fireroad
-Hostetter Fireroad
-Mt. Lukens

Comments needed by December 4th to opposed hotel plan that would block historic trail in Calabasas

Monday, November 30th, 2015
 A hiker approaches the De Anza trailhead, which will be hidden behind a hotel

A hiker approaches the De Anza trailhead, which will be hidden behind the proposed hotel.

The city of Calabasas is pushing plans for the building of the Rondell Oasis Hotel that would block access to the Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail (“DeAnza Trail”). The trail is designated as a National Historic Trail and got congressional approval and went to the white house in 2000.  This is part of the original El Camino Real route and has over 200 years of history! It is one of only nineteen such trails in the country.

The hotel will be bounded by Las Virgenes Road to the West and the 101 Freeway to the north.

The hotel will be bounded by Las Virgenes Road to the West and the 101 Freeway to the north, as indicated by the yellow outline. The wide yellow line would be a new road.

The hotel is to be built on the currently vacant property on the east side of Las Virgenes Road, immediately south of the 101 freeway, next to the Mobile station. It will occupy the area where people now park to access the DeAnza trail and the adjoining New Millennium Loop trail system.

The developer is proposing to mitigate its impact to the trail by installing approximately 4 parking spaces, a water fountain and a doggy poo-bag station. What is not said clearly is because of the flood hazards on the site, the developer is putting in concrete drainages that would block all access to the trail, and in order to access the trail they would install steps up and over the drainage to the trailhead. This is hardly bicycle or equestrian friendly. In fact, this parking area is the only one that is large enough to accommodate horse trailers for equestrians who want to ride these trails. That access would be lost.

The city of Calabasas believes that these minor accommodations would mitigate the access issues to the trail, but the proposed number of spaces is completely inadequate for this popular trail. There are other significant issues with this development that concern the citizens of Calabasas, but the city believes that they are all minor, and that no Environmental Impact Report is needed to explore the full impact and propose appropriate changes to the plan.

You can get a copy online of the city’s report, “Rondell Oasis Hotel Project: Initial Study…” Page 56 is the checklist where nothing is deemed as having any potential significant impact on a historical or archaeological resource, which isn’t the case.

An artist's rendering of the proposed hotel.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed hotel. Trail access would be via a staircase from the hotel parking lot.

We urge you to send your comments to the City of Calabasas, expressing the need for a full Environmental Impact Report. Comments must be received by December 4th, 2015! Send them to Michael Klein, the planner for this project. His email address is mklein@cityofcalabasas.com

CORBA’s comments can be found here. Below is a sample letter that you are free to copy and send in under your own name. Of course, it would be even better if you add a sentence or two of your own to make it more individual. Don’t forget to add a catchy subject line!

Dear Mr. Klein,

I have just learned of the Rondell Oasis Hotel Project that is to be situated on the the east side of Las Virgenes Road, immediately south of the 101 freeway. This project would block access to the popular Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail that was used by the missionaries over 200 years ago when traveling up the coast of California, and eliminate the current large parking area at the trailhead. The few parking spots that the developers plan to provide for trailhead parking would not be nearly adequate for the number of people who like to use it. Currently this is the only parking area for accessing this historic trail and the New Millennium Loop trail system that is large enough for equestrians with their horse trailers, so the project would completely eliminate their access.

The City of Calabasas’ conclusion that a full environmental impact report is not needed for this project is incorrect in my view. I urge the city to require a full Environmental Impact Report for this project!

Yours Sincerely,

 

 

Photos from the Nov 1st Ride & Mingle (RAM) ride and Pancake lunch

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
At the Pancake Lunch at Michael's Bicycles in Newbury Park after the ride.

At the Pancake Lunch at Michael’s Bicycles in Newbury Park after the ride.

For our occasional RAM ride, a few dozen CORBA supporters gathered at the trailhead to Pt Mugu State Park in Newbury Park on Sunday morning and organized into three groups for separate beginner, intermediate and advanced rides. Off we went into Sycamore Canyon shortly after 9:00 am for a few hours of riding before heading down to Michael’s Bicycles in Newbury Park for pancakes, coffee, juice, fruit and muffins. There was also a donation jar for CORBA to pay for the meal and to help with other CORBA programs. Many people contributed bills to this jar, and for that CORBA offers a hearty thanks! Michael sweetened the event by offering special deals to us on merchandise in his shop.

We have posted photos of the intermediate ride and from Michael’s. You can see photos of earlier RAM rides and fundraising events on our photo gallery.