Archive for the ‘National’ Category

President’s Message: A Look Back at 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

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

strawberry peak trail crew Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Volunteers, February 16, 2014

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

 

CORBA's Youth Adventures

CORBA’s Youth Adventures

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

 

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

 

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

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

 

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

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

President Obama signs the proclamation

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Rim of the Valley Study Area

Rim of the Valley Study Area

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

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

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

Vote for CORBA for Mtn Bike Hall of Fame by July 15th!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

mbhof-logoThe time is now to vote for CORBA (a chapter of IMBA) for induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum. We were nominated last year and therefor are eligible again moving forward. To learn more about CORBA’s nomination, click here.

CORBA has been on the forefront of mountain bike advocacy since there was such a thing. CORBA as an organization has developed groundbreaking advocacy policies, standardized trail building guidelines and design techniques, and outreach programs (Skills Classes, Mountain Bike Unit volunteer patrol). CORBA members were present at the initial summit which created the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and is listed as a Founding Member of that organization. CORBA may be eligible as an advocacy candidate for the Hall of Fame, but the organization could easily also be included as a Pioneer.

For you that are already members of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum, check your mailboxes for your ballots. If you need to join the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame visit their website at www.mbikehof.com. There are options to join via PayPal or by printing out the membership form and sending a check.

Voting ends July 15th, so don’t delay!

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.

The Grand Canyon by Bike, Not Burro

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The Suburu/IMBA Trail Care Crew helps bring new singletrack to the North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has often been called the “eighth wonder of the world.” Lesser known is the area’s value as a mountain biking destination. Eighteen miles of moderate singletrack with stunning views into the canyon are open to bikes on the North Rim. The land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) North Kaibab Ranger District, which is looking to add additional miles to the existing, out-and-back trail.
IMBA Grand CanyonContrary to popular belief, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is not a desert. The Rainbow Rim trail sits at 8,000 feet, winding through forests of ponderosa pine and aspen trees. Users can expect to see abundant wildlife, including the rare Kaibab Squirrel, a white-tailed, tufted-eared critter that only lives in the 40-mile radius of the Kaibab Plateau. The forest is also home to wild turkeys, often spotted running in packs through the trees.
During the last weekend of September, the Subaru/ IMBA Trail Care Crew (TCC) helped the staff of the Kaibab forest prepare to add seven additional miles to the existing Rainbow Rim trail. Several of the rangers there are mountain bikers and wanted IMBA’s guidance to design the extension specifically for bikes.
To kick things off, IMBA hosted Land Manager Training, helping the Kaibab forest staff and rangers from the neighboring Dixie National Forest to better understand mountain bikers as a user group. The presentation was followed by a robust discussion about resource protection, risk management and trail design.
The Trail Care Crew—along with IMBA regional directors Ryan Schutz and Patrick Kell—then assisted the rangers in finding the most fun, beautiful and sustainable route for the new trail, which will utilize a steep side slope to add a loop and turn Rainbow Rim into a lollipop ride. Schutz, Kell and the TCC flagged the steep hillside carefully, using the contour to ensure good flow in the final trail while keeping riders off an unpleasantly steep, loose service road. The new section of planned trail must undergo an environmental assessment, but as soon as the Kaibob rangers get the go-ahead, construction will begin.
The Rainbow Rim project also involves a road-to-trail conversion, which is already underway. The TCC and volunteers from Arizona and New Mexico reclaimed 900 feet of road, converted 1,200 feet of road into trail and cut 900 feet of brand-new singletrack to bypass the old road. The USFS will finish where the volunteers left off, replacing the road with sinewy singletrack.
After a night spent camping on the North Rim with the volunteers and sharing a headlamp-lit cookout, the TCC had a chance to ride the Rainbow Rim trail.
“The remoteness of this trail gives you a feeling of isolation that is often not found at the South Rim,” said TCC member Jesse Livingston. “And the well-designed nature of the trail allows riders to enjoy mileage that is difficult to achieve in mountainous terrain.”
Only a few days after the TCC left the Grand Canyon, the Kaibab rangers contacted IMBA headquarters asking for more help with their next big trail idea. We hope this visit marks the beginning of a lasting partnership with one of America’s most treasured natural splendors.

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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!

 

NPS Announces Expanded Opportunities for Mountain Biking

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The National Park Service recently announced changes designed to expand opportunities for mountain biking in parks nationwide. “Bikes are a great way to exercise, get healthy and experience the great outdoors,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “This new rule gives park superintendents greater flexibility to determine where bikes can be allowed in a park and additional authority to shut areas where cycling is jeopardizing visitors or park resources.”

IMBA and the NPS have held a formal partnership agreement since 2005. The new rule is another step forward in that relationship, providing park staff with a more streamlined administrative process and localized decision making about where the best opportunities for mountain biking exist.

“IMBA’s policy is to work with parks that express an interest in developing opportunities for mountain biking,” says Mike Van Abel, the group’s executive director. “We are not interested in trying to insert mountain biking into all national parks or putting bikes on every NPS trail. But we know from experience that well-designed,sustainable trails can be successfully shared by different types of users.”

There are already more than 40 NPS properties that allow mountain biking on dirt roads and trails. Research from the Outdoor Industry Association shows that bicycling is one of the most popular forms of recreation — especially among young people. “At a time when park visitation is declining, and America’s youth is becoming more sedentary, it’s good to see the NPS taking this positive step,” said Van Abel.

Some groups have questioned whether mountain biking is compatible with the NPS’ conservation values, but current research shows that the impacts of mountain biking are similar to those caused by hiking. Studies indicate that when it comes to trails, the major issue is not the type of user but the way the trail is designed and built.

Copied from IMBA Trail News, Summer 2012

Federal Trails Funding Secured for Two Years

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the federal funding program that supports natural surface trails, has been reauthorized for two years in a bill that the U.S. Congress approved this July. An $85 million program, RTP strongly benefits mountain bikers and funds the development and maintenance of thousands of trail miles.

“We are very grateful to our grassroots advocates whose relentless calls and letters elevated the importance of RTP. This has been an extremely long reauthorization process — time and time again, mountain bikers rallied to save RTP,” says Jenn Dice, IMBA Government Affairs Director. “We also would like to thank U.S. Sen. Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Petri for their commitment to the program and seeing it through this difficult process.”

RTP has funded iconic mountain bike trail projects across the country, including two IMBA Epics: FATS in North Carolina and Brown County State Park in Indiana. RTP funds were also used in the construction of the just-opened Rockburn Skills Park in Maryland and the Highbridge Bike Park in New York City. IMBA chapters and clubs have become experts in securing RTP grants for trail construction and maintenance.

In a new development, governors and state-level department of transportation offices have the opportunity to opt out of the entire program and return funds collected on behalf of RTP back to other uses (such as roads). For example, a state like Colorado could lose more than $2 million that would have otherwise gone to singletrack, trailheads and other expenditures that benefit mountain bikers. IMBA urges its members to contact their Governors about the importance of RTP funding for trails. Governors must decide by mid-September, so do not delay.

Groups interested in taking advantage of RTP funding to further trail projects should visit imba. com/resources to learn more.

Copied from IMBA Trail News, Summer 2012

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.

Youth-Oriented Publication Available Soon, Take A Kid Celebration Slated for Oct. 6

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

With major support from Shimano, IMBA will publish two special editions of IMBA Trail News in 2012. Copies of ITN Youth Edition will be available on IMBA’s online store, free of cost except for shipping fees. These full-color, print magazines will focus on providing resources for adult leaders of youth-oriented mountain bike programs, plus stories, photos and tips that young riders aged 12 to 18 will enjoy reading.
This October, in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative, IMBA has pledged to get 30,000 children participating in 300 cycling events for the annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day celebration. We could use your help in reaching this goal on Oct. 6. Broadcast Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day to your chapter/club networks, host a ride or sponsor the IMBA outreach program.
Since we believe that kids should be on bikes everyday, we’re encouraging all participants to sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), whereby you pledge to be active at least 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Youth (6-17 years) should get moving for at least 60 minutes per day, and adults (18 years or older) should be active for 30 minutes per day. What better way to get active than to be out riding a bike?

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