Archive for the ‘National’ Category

New U.S. Forest Service Planning Rules Presents Opportunities for Mountain Bike Groups

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Via IMBA

For Immediate Release 1-27-2012

Contact: Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
markeller@imba.com
303-545-9011

The U.S Forest Service recently announced a new set of rules that will shape the way foresters oversee its lands, including planning for and implementing trails and other recreational facilities. The Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service, posted the new procedures online today.

“This is welcome news for IMBA and its affiliated chapters and clubs,” said Mike Van Abel, the executive director for the world’s largest association of mountain bike organizations. “IMBA’s outstanding relationship with the Forest Service sets the stage for our local affiliates to partner with individual forest units as they make plans for shared-use trails.”

IMBA sent dozens of representatives to the Forest Service’s national series of listening sessions as it was preparing for the just-announced rule change. “Those efforts proved to be really worthwhile,” says Jeremy Fancher, IMBA’s lead attorney. “It’s particularly encouraging to see a renewed emphasis on following best practices and considering scientific evidence. IMBA’s partnership agreement with the Forest Service will help us provide the right information for effective recreation planning.”

Fancher frequently advises IMBA-affiliated chapters and clubs on forest planning efforts. IMBA also offers scientific studies on the impacts of mountain biking and guidance on trail design on its website. Learn more about planning efforts in the forests near you by visiting the Forest Service’s Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA) website.

To raise public awareness about how mountain bikers and Forest Service staff interact, IMBA helped sponsor Pedal-Driven, an award-winning documentary. The Forest Service has officially endorsed the hour-long film, and IMBA’s local chapters and clubs are currently hosting dozens of screenings. “This production documents the great things we can accomplish when we work together to solve problems,” said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Supervisor Becki Heath, whose forest is featured prominently in the documentary.

Help Preserve Trails and Parks Funding in 60 Seconds

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Open space. City parks. Thousands of miles of singletrack across all 50 states. If you value those things, you will take just 60 seconds to help IMBA support the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). All you have to do is sign a petition.

The petition asks the Obama Administration to fully and permanently fund the LWCF and its work buying open space and helping cities and counties build parks, many of which contain mountain bike trails and are in your own backyard.

TAKE ACTION! If we reach 25,000 individual signers by Dec. 16, the Obama Administration will look at the issue and give an official response. Please sign today!

LWCF funds are being diverted from their intended use. Of the $900 million authorized this year, very little of that is actually going toward America’s parks and outdoor recreation areas. Be part of a united voice. Help us urge the White House to restore full, dedicated and permanent funding for the LWCF.

It only takes a minute. Sign the petition today!

Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 Signed by Obama

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

On November 7, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 (S. 382/H.R. 765). A version of this legislation was first introduced by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) in 2008, and again in 2010. The bill was re-introduced in February 2011, and this year passed both the House and Senate. It has strong support from both the mountain bike community and the Ski industry. IMBA testified in favor of the act earlier this year and has signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the National Ski Area Association to help increase visitation and improve summer mountain bike experiences at U.S. ski areas.

The Act amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 and clarifies the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture to “permit appropriate additional seasonal or year-round recreational activities and facilities on National Forest System land subject to Ski Area permits.”  The act goes on to specifically mention mountain bike terrain parks and trails, zip lines, frisbee golf courses and ropes courses as acceptable additional recreational activities for ski areas. It excludes activities such as tennis courts, water slides, swimming pools and golf courses.

This should make it easier for ski areas to get the required permits to operate mountain bike parks during their summer off-season. Year-round recreation at ski resorts is expected to create additional jobs and increase local commerce. Ski areas must still comply with environmental regulations when operating year-round, and their primary function has to remain snow sports.

In the Angeles National Forest there are four ski areas: Mountain High (East, West & North), Mt. Waterman, Ski Sunrise and Mt. Baldy. For a few short weeks in 2009 Mt. Waterman opened to bicycles in the summer, but was forced to abandon its mountain bike park plans because of the limitations of their ski area permit. The passage of HR 765 now allows the Secretary of Agriculture to issue permits for mountain bike parks to existing ski area permit holders.

This is a great step forward and one that will hopefully increase our opportunities for lift-access trails and bike parks in the years to come.

We are People for Bikes, and You Should Be Too!

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

People for Bikes

People for Bikes is a movement to unite cyclists from all aspects of cycling. Whether you ride road, mountain, street, bmx, DJ, DH, cross country, touring, or commuting, you’re a cyclist, and should sign the “People for Bikes Pledge.”

All of the CORBA board members and advisors have personally signed the pledge, and we encourage you to do so too. By raising awareness of the sheer numbers of cyclists from all disciplines that are here in this country, the People for Bikes movement aims to ensure that cyclists get noticed and included when it comes to legislation, funding, resource allocation, and other considerations that have a direct impact on our ability to ride our bikes safely, freely, and with the infrastructure that will help encourage more to join our ranks. This is the pledge:

The Pledge

I am for bikes. I’m for long rides and short rides. I’m for commuting to work, weekend rides, racing, riding to school, or just a quick spin around the block. I believe that no matter how I ride, biking makes me happy and is great for my health, my community and the environment we all share. That is why I am pledging my name in support of a better future for bicycling — one that is safe and fun for everyone. By uniting my voice with a million others, I believe that we can make our world a better place to ride.

The following is adapted from a letter from Tim Blumenthal, director of the People For Bikes movement:

If you’ve already signed the pledge, thank you! But we have one simple request: ask a friend to sign the PFB pledge today. If each one of us recruits just one friend, we will instantly double the size of our movement from nearly 200,000 to 400,000. With twice as many supporters, we will double our clout and dramatically enhance our capability to make bicycling in America safer and more appealing for everyone who rides.

Win a People For Bikes Timbuktu Messenger Bag for signing the Pledge in February

As some extra motivation, anyone who signs the pledge during the month of February will instantly be entered to win one of five Timbuk2 custom peopleforbikes.org messenger bags stuffed with other awesome PFB swag. (Don’t worry; you can still enter the giveaway even though you’ve already signed the pledge. Just fill out this form).

Signing the pledge is easy and only takes a few seconds. You can check out the latest blog entries at PeopleForBikes.org to learn more about why it’s so important to get all riders to raise their hands in support of better biking now by signing the pledge.

Happy trails!

51,000 Petition AAA to Support Rails-to-Trails

Monday, December 27th, 2010

On Monday, December 13, RTC President Keith Laughlin—flanked by 35 cyclists on an unusually frigid morning in Heathrow, Fla.—delivered the names of more than 51,000 petition signers to the American Automobile Association (AAA), calling for the support of critical, established programs that fund trails, walking and bicycling. See the full story…

And see our blog article about the petition…

Rails to Trails Petition to the AAA

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Southern California has several successful rail to trails conversions, with the potential for many more.  You can see existing Southern California Rail-Trails at http://www.trails.com/stateactivity.aspx?area=14932

The president of AAA Mid-Atlantic recently advocated for the elimination of existing federal programs that help build bicycle and pedestrian trails and sidewalks from the trust fund that finances transportation. These funds have helped create more than 19,000 miles of trails, walking and bicycling facilities across the country—including some in Southern California.

There are 19,872 miles of rail-trails around the country—with 9,232 more in the planning stage. Very few of these would have been built if AAA’s position had taken hold decades ago.

AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests that an $89 billion annual highway fund shortfall can be blamed on investments in walking and bicycling. But those investments total less than $1 billion annuallyand produce tremendous benefits for everyone, including drivers.

CORBA is joining with the Rails to Trails Conservancy in calling for the for the AAA to retract the statements made by the AAA Mid-Atlantic region President.  We ask CORBA members and supporters to sign the Rails to Trails Conservancy petition at http://www.railstotrails.org/AAA

To prepare for that delivery, the petition will be closed at midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Thank you for having already signed the petition. We’ve asked this of you a lot lately, but since it’s so important, please forgive us: would you spread the word however you can, one last time? Just ask a friend or two to visit www.railstotrails.org/AAA.

Postscript (December 27, 2010): 51,000 people signed the petition. See the full story…

CORBA’s Kurt Loheit Receives National Award

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Kurt Loheit

CORBA and IMBA founding member and Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame Inductee Kurt Loheit was recently the recipient of American Trails’  Lifetime Service Award as part of the 20th American Trails National Symposium.

From the American Trails website:

The National Trails Awards is one way American Trails recognizes the exemplary people across the landscape of America who are working to create a national system of trails to meet the recreation, health, and travel needs of all Americans.

Lifetime Service Award: Kurt Loheit

This award recognizes an individual demonstrating long-standing, significant, and exemplary service to trail planning, implementation, and recreation.

Kurt Loheit has more than 20 years of experience as a passionate outdoorsman, who has been instrumental in organizing and leading trail programs with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and numerous other organizations across the nation, including the California Trails and Greenways Conference, founding the Los Angeles Chapter of Concerned Off Road Bicyclists Association, and being the Resources Director of the International Mountain Bicyclist Association. Kurt has been a leader of the hiking and mountain bike community’s efforts to contribute to the design, construction, and maintenance of sustainable trail systems. He has supervised trail projects and trail building schools around the country, he’s written about trail building issues in a number of mountain biking and land management publications, and he’s presented many times at national, state, and local trails conferences. In 2004 he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

As one of CORBA’s “elders,” Loheit continues to provide guidance on trail related topics, from maintenance projects to advocacy concerns on both a local and national level. A resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, he has been instrumental in the ongoing transformation of the open space trails into cooperative shared use. Says CORBA Palos Verdes member Troy Braswell, “When cyclists in Rancho Palos Verdes were on the verge of being completely shut out, Kurt stepped forward to put us on the right course. He guided us from a disorganized bunch of ignorant bikers to a band of pretty effective CORBA PV warriors.

“The foundation for everything we have gained was paid for with his years of advocacy experience and countless hours of volunteer work. His position as a nationally recognized trails expert and committed volunteer has given him a highly respected voice in Rancho Palos Verdes. When the city or land conservancy has a question about trails, they go to Kurt. When we need direction through the political battlefield of advocacy, we go to Kurt.”

Loheit had this to say about the honor: “It really isn’t so much what I have done, its more about what others have done along with me. Everyone has a part to share in this award.”

We congratulate Kurt on this lifetime service award, and express our sincerest gratitude for his ongoing contributions to CORBA, mountain biking and trail user communities around the nation.

Rim of the Valley Study Comments

Friday, October 29th, 2010

As we reported back in August, the National Park Service has been holding public hearings on the Rim of the Valley Special Resource Study.  The public meetings have provided an opportunity for many to voice their support and/or concerns for the concept study.  Until midnight tonight, you can email your comments to the National Park Service.

Rim of the Valley Study Area Map

Rim of the Valley Study Area

The Rim of the Valley is comprised of the open spaces that surround the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi and Conejo valleys. This area spans both Los Angeles and Ventury County, and a bevy of land managers from different agencies. CORBA fully supports the prospect of having these various land managers come together under the direction of the National Park Service, with the goal of permanently protecting this vital ecological and recreational resource.

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Outside Mag: The Ban on Bicycles in Wilderness is Dead Wrong

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Outside Online, the online companion site to Outside Magazine,  recently published online an excellent article about the ban on Bikes in Wilderness areas. The article originally appeared in print in March. Echoing the arguments put forth by IMBA, CORBA and mountain bike groups across the country, the article lays out the reasons that lifting the ban could lead to more land being protected. If wilderness did not exclude bicycles, millions of mountain biking Americans would join with environmentalists to support new wilderness designations.

IMBA is working with agencies at the Federal and local level to incorporate alternate designations that allow mountain biking while still offering similar environmental protection.

You can read the article on Outside Online, or see the full text of the article is after the break.

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The Great Outdoors Initiative Comes to L.A.

Friday, July 9th, 2010
On July 8th CORBA volunteers attended a “listening session” with such dignitaries as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar, E.P.A. Administrator Lisa Jackson, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Undersecretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Harris Sherman and Asst. Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy.  Also represented were Los Angeles City and County department heads, and leaders of hundreds of NGO’s all gathered for this“listening session” by Obama’s environmental “dream team” on-stage.
Each panel member spoke about the challenges in providing recreation, conservation and appreciation of the great outdoors. The speakers discussed how Los Angeles is continually misrepresented as the capital of sprawl, a car culture, a place lacking in the great outdoors. Many Angelenos already enjoy the great open spaces that surround us in the San Gabriels, Santa Monicas, the Arroyo, the LA River and Griffith Park. Most people in the city, however, are unaware of just how much open space is so close by.

An inspiring video outlining the challenges and achievements of the nation’s public lands was shown. The video is available on the DOI web site.

In the audience, local government officials sat side by side with advocates, educators, non-profit directors and conservationists to share their experiences and express their views to the federal representatives. The room was packed to capacity, with over 800 people in attendance.

These high-level Administration officials and White House Cabinet members listened to comments from the audience for about an hour, after which a more intimate opportunity for feedback was offered by way of break-out sessions.

During the public comments, many pointed out the noticeable absences from the panel: Transportation and Education.
Many contended, and CORBA agrees, that getting people outdoors can be achieved by either bringing the people to the outdoors by providing a  better public transport network that reaches the surrounding open space as well as existing city parks; and walkable, livable streets where bicycle transportation and recreation is encouraged and welcomed.

The second option is bringing the outdoors to the people. This is exemplified by grass-roots movements like Ciclovia where several city streets will be closed on September 12th to create a one-day 13 mile long playground for riding, walking and just being outside. The initiative seeks a better balance in zoning and utilization of park land, development and infrastructure: building more livable communities. It encourages urban parkland development and recreation.

Much was said by panelists and public about the need to protect natural resources. In CORBA’s opinion not enough was said about the need for access to those protected resources as recreational opportunities. During breakout sessions CORBA board member Steve Messer brought up the need for alternatives to wilderness designations which exclude user groups and make public land more inaccessible for the majority. Access and conservation are synergistic in many ways: when people can’t or don’t experience these lands, they don’t develop a sense of stewardship or understand the need to conserve.

CORBA’s mission includes preservation, stewardship and access for mountain bikers and the trail systems they ride. Our Youth Adventures, Introduction to Mountain Bike Skills clinics, and Trail Crew programs give people a sense of those values.

Messer also brought up the fact that bicycling is a life-long health-promoting recreational activity. He talked about the Interscholastic Cycling League and the collateral long-term changes it will bring about. Unlike more traditional high school team sports, high school mountain bikers are much more likely to continue to participate in this health-promoting activity well beyond their high school years. He stressed the need to support youth programs, high school programs, and trail access for all users in our City Parks (bringing the outdoors to the people).

For such a diverse group, the breakout session in which CORBA participated went very smoothly, with all the participants tending to agree on most things: The need for funding; The inclusion of alternative transportation; The need to coordinate agencies; The need to bring the classroom outside. Equestrian representatives talked about their youth programs in Compton that allow kids the opportunity to experience a ranching lifestyle. A science teacher talked about his inability to take kids out into the field because of budget cuts. Others referred to “every child left inside, AKA no child left behind.” Other salient points were expressed: the lack of communication and cooperation between government agencies; the need for federal governments to work more at the local level while allowing locals to have a bigger hand in managing lands.

In all, the process went well and–at least in the breakout session CORBA attended–all felt they were heard, and all had something to say. There was no animosity between any of the groups present, from the Sierra Club, to CORBA, to the equestrian community, OHV community, to educators and local government representatives.  If anything, there seemed to be a subtle acknowledgement that all those present have a love of the outdoors, despite the differences in how we experience it.

The goal of this initiative is to produce a set of recommendations expected to be ready in November. All of the comments were recorded and will be considered. The recommendations that result from these listening sessions will help shape policy that will see us through the next hundred years of management of public lands.

Though the term “mountain bike” is relatively new, bicycles are an integral part of America’s history, and have been used in the outdoors since the late 1800′s. Mountain bikers are now part of that history and deserve the same respect when it comes to decisions about outdoor recreation. We need to make sure that we are considered in those decisions.

For those who were not at the listening session, you can make comments online at http://ideas.usda.gov/ago/ideas.nsf/. You can also vote down or vote up the comments of others, or respond to others’ comments. It is a lively discussion, and currently there are anti-mountain biking comments that have been voted down. We need to flood their system with comments supporting mountain biking and access.

The initiative asks individuals and organizations to express what they see as the Challenges, What Works, The Federal Government’s Role and the Tools needed to make it better. Submit your comments and be heard.

CORBA’s preliminary thoughts (our official statement will be made public soon):

Challenges: We face an obesity epidemic and declining participation in outdoor activities. We have mismanaged lands for hundreds of years, allowing sprawl, poorly designed cities and a lack of open space. We need to find, connect to, allow access to and protect public lands. Bicycles, both on and off-road, are a part of that solution.
What Works: We have found that getting access to trails, whether in mountains or city parks, encourages park use and outdoor participation. Mountain Bikes blur transport and recreation lines, and entice people out of doors with healthy exercise disguised as fun. Cycling should be encouraged in all its forms.
Federal Role: The federal government needs to expand trail networks and access for everyone. It should utilize alternative land protection designations that allow for more recreation and more jobs while protecting the land, instead of wilderness designations which by their nature are exclusionary and decrease opportunity.
The Tools: The NEPA and CEQA processes must be overhauled and streamlined; alternative protective designations to wilderness, and establishing better ratios of trail miles to user populations on federal lands. Fund projects at the local level. Fund jobs that expand access to open spaces. The NPS needs to adopt the proposed 2008 rule change (36 CFR 4.30, Federal Register E8-29892) that makes it easier for NPS unit superintendents to open off road facilities to mountain bikes. The current rule is onerous, burdensome and expensive. It deters NPS units from offering off-road cycling opportunities.
Please submit your comments, or take those we’ve suggested and modify them as you see fit.
Comments can be submitted right now at http://ideas.usda.gov/ago/ideas.nsf/. You can have your say and it will be counted.