Archive for the ‘San Gabriel Mountains’ Category

Ken Burton Trail Restoration Continues December 13

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
MWBA and CORBA Trail Crew

Most of the Sunday, 11/22 crew after they arrived. Thanks guys and gals!

On Sunday, November 22nd, 2015, we had our third full trail restoration work day on Ken Burton trail with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association. 23 volunteers made the 7 mile, 2000′ climb to pitch in. Bob trailers were used once again to get needed tools and supplies to the work site.

We continued on from where we finished last time. The crews worked feverishly for a solid four hours, clearing an additional 1600′ of trail. We’re making rapid progress, thanks in part to the excellent original construction by the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association in the 1990’s.


Ken Burton Hike a Bike

Before: A group who poached the closed trail in 2013. The brush is only thicker and taller now.


Completed trailwork Ken Burton

After our crew had been through


Ken Burton Trail Restoration

After: looking the other direction

The before and after is quite dramatic. Where the trail was previously completely obscured by brush, it is now in better shape than before the fire. Our crews are getting it down to a fine art. We’re using power hedge trimmers for the initial brush clearance, followed by swampers (who remove and stash the cut brush), then loppers and hand saws to fine tune the brush and stump removal.  The lead crew is followed by a tread crew, working to remove stumps and roots from the tread, and pull down slough to restore the original trail tread.  We’re cutting the trail to its original 36 – 48″ tread width where possible, knowing that it will narrow down again with time.

Ken Burton Trailwork

Getting close to the memorial and the top of the switchbacks


Ken Burton Memorial. Plaque has been long gone.

Ken Burton Memorial. The plaque is long gone.

Our target for the day was to reach the Ken Burton Memorial, a plaque dedicated to USFS Battalion Chief Ken Burton, who was killed in a car crash in November 1985. For those who remember the trail, the memorial was just before the very first switchback descending into the Arroyo Seco canyon. We made it to the Memorial at about 1 p.m., leaving time for people to gather tools, load up trailers and ride back down for lunch at 2. Pat Phillips, a local Altadena resident and one of the original construction crew in the 1990’s, graciously hosted us for lunch afterwards.

Failed wire basket retaining wall

Failed wire basket retaining wall


We’ve also reached the first failed retaining wall structure. In my survey of the trail, only two sections of retaining wall structure failed out of the dozens used, a testament to the work of the original MWBA crew. Those dozens of structures have survived three major El Nino winters and one Station Fire.


Project Status. Click for a larger view.

So far we’ve cleared approximately .7 miles of the trail, about 1/3 of the work. We have a couple more days of very similar work before it will get especially thick and tough near the bottom. At that time we’ll need to coordinate with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps who are working on the Gabrielino trail, near where it meets the bottom of Ken Burton trail.

Thanks again to all the volunteers who came out to help. Our next work day is December 13 (weather permitting). Our tentative dates starting next year are January 10 and January 24, to be confirmed soon. The more people who contribute, the better our chances of riding this trail next summer!


Help restore Ken Burton Trail, Nov 7, 8

Thursday, October 29th, 2015
The trail is heavily overgrown

The trail is heavily overgrown

We have been waiting for some time to begin work on the Ken Burton trail. This much-loved trail was built by the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association in the early 90s, creating a loopable route with Brown Mountain and the Gabrielino Trail. CORBA used a generous grant of $10,000 from REI to help fund the restoration of the Gabrielino Trail from Paul Little to Oakwilde Campground. We coordinated with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps who continue to work on the segment north of Oakwilde this fall.

CORBA and MWBA have been given permission to work on Ken Burton, and to connect it to the restored section of the Gabrielino. Once completed, we’ll be asking the Forest Service to open the Brown, Ken Burton, Gabrilieno loop route to the public.

We have scheduled a work weekend on the 7th/8th of November. Logistics require us to haul in tools and equipment by Bob Trailer. Most of the two days of work will entail cutting back brush. Surprisingly, much of the tread is in good condition, and most of the switchbacks appear to be generally intact. This says a lot about the quality of construction by the MWBA’s pioneers and their dedication to quality trail building. Only a few wire baskets have failed out of the many that were used.

Please RSVP for the trailwork on our meetup group at or on the MWBA Facebook page.


When: Meet Saturday, November 7, 2015, 7:30.a.m. Windsor and Ventura parking lot.  Ride up to
the top of upper Brown Mountain fire road starting at 8, and meet there at 9:15. We’ll work until about 1 p.m before riding back down.

Sunday, November 8, 2015, meet at 7:45 a.m. at Windsor and Ventura Parking lot. Ride  up at 8 a.m..

You may come out for either or both days.

What to bring:

Eye protection (cycling style sunglasses are fine), work gloves (if you have them), sunscreen, water and trail food, sturdy shoes. You are required to wear long pants and long sleeves, though these can be packed for the ride up and changed into at the top. We’ll be supplying forest-service required hard-hats, gloves and tools. A GMRS radio could also be helpful.

What to expect:

Experienced trail crew members will be using power tools (hedge trimmers, etc) to clear brush; others will clear the cuttings from the trail and do minor tread work. You’ll need to sign a waiver for CORBA, and a Job Hazard Analysis for the Forest Service. If under 18, be accompanied by a parent or guardian, at least to sign the waiver before we start, and assign a guardian who will be with us. People should be familiar with the ride up and the location. Those hauling trailers are welcome to take off early, and they can be briefed on safety at the top.

The ride in will be about 7 miles with 2000′ of elevation gain on a mix of fire road, double track and singletrack. Expect to ride all the way up, though there’s a few possible hike-a-bikes. We expect everyone to be at the upper Ken Burton trailhead by 9:15 and ready to hike down the trail and begin work.

We’ll be clearing brush, removing vegetation growing on the tread or leaning over the trail corridor, approximately 4 – 5 feet either side of the center of the tread. There will be some tread repair in a few places where the trail bench cut has been filled with slough, and some light tread grooming over other areas. We’ll break at about 11, take an assessment of how everyone feels and see who wants to continue. We hope to finish work about 1, and be heading back to our bikes for the descent back to the bottom.

Afterwards, those who wish may join us for lunch at a location to be announced.

Those hauling bob trailers should understand what an extra 50 pounds feels like on a ride like this, and have something left over to do trailwork. If you’re interested in hauling a trailer (a smaller chainring is helpful) post in the comments or contact Steve [at]

Severe weather cancels the event, including heavy rain, high fire danger and/or high wind, or other circumstances. Check CORBA’s pages on either Meetup or Facebook before you head out just to make sure that we’re still on.  November 15 will be a backup day in case of weather cancellation.

We hope to see you there showing how much you love and miss our trails and that mountain bikers are one of the most active stewards of the trails.


20151015006-Ken Burton Trailwork Scouting

Typical trail conditions


Judy Chu’s HR3820 Introduced

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Today, October 23, 2015, Congresswoman Judy Chu kep20151016014-San Gabriel Mountains National Monument One Year Celebration-2t a commitment made at the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument One Year Anniversary celebration last week, and revealed to CORBA and MWBA in a meeting a few weeks prior to that. She has introduced House Bill 3820, The San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act.

The act establishes a new unit of the National Park Service. At our preliminary reading of the Act, it appears to be largely consistent with Alternative D of the San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study (SGWMSRS), which we supported, albeit with some concerns and caveats.

This act goes to great lengths in protecting existing water, property, utility and infrastructure rights, and expressly prohibits the use of Eminent Domain to acquire property. It establishes an Advisory Committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which includes water agencies, infrastructure, local governments, conservancies, environmentalists, recreation including OHV, and other stakeholders. It doesn’t, however, specifically mention bicycles. It also establishes a partnership committee to support the NRA.

The bill authorizes the National Park Service to establish the San Gabriel National Recreation Area as a new unit of the NPS. It allows them to enter into partnerships and collaborate with existing and willing land managers with the proposed boundary. This includes the Army Corps of Engineers who own and operate much of the flood control infrastructure along the river. It permits and encourages collaborations and partnerships to be leveraged to improve habitat, recreation, resource protection, water quality, infrastructure or any of the purposes for which the NRA will be established ( as specified in Section 102(A) of the bill). The NPS can only acquire land from willing sellers and enter into partnership with willing entities, agencies, and nonprofits. Despite claims to the contrary, this is not a “land grab.”

2015-10-23 - HR3820 - San Gabriel National Recreation Area, and SGNM Expansion, Judy Chu, BILLS-114hr3820ih_01The bill gives the National Park Service three years to develop a management plan and a visitor services plan, in conjunction with the Advisory Committee (and as required by NEPA, the public). There are however two words that appear highly subjective. In Section 108 (a)(3)(B) In the development of a Visitor Services Plan, the Secretary Shall consider the demand for various types of recreation (including hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, and the use of motorized and mechanized vehicles) where permissible and appropriate; [Emphasis added]. The word “appropriate” in this context is too subjective, without any reference to who makes the determination for appropriateness, and by what criteria. We know there are many who deem bicycles inappropriate anywhere, and we would hope that any determination of appropriateness of bicycles or any other form of recreation be transparent and include public involvement beyond the Advisory Committee and Partnership.

Also required is the establishment of the San Gabriel National Recreation Partnership, consisting of the many land managers, utility managers, and local governments within the boundary. The partnership includes “One designee of San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community.”  We wonder if this is a referral to the Community Collaborative, on which CORBA President Steve Messer serves to represent bicycle recreation interests.

That original SGWMSR Study and the Alternative D supported by CORBA included most of the San Gabriel Watershed within the Angeles National Forest. This study concluded in in 2011, and was the precursor to our National Monument. In early 2014, Chu introduced legislation to establish a National Recreation Area in accordance with the study, but it was clear it was not going to make it out of committee in the congressional climate at that time. This urged her and other advocates to seek alternative protection for the San Gabriel Watershed, ie. to have President Obama declare a San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (SGMNM), which included all of the San Gabriel Watershed, and then some.

One of our concerns with Alternative D of the SGWSRS was how it was going to be funded. At the time, in 2011, the Nation’s economy was in a much sorrier state than it is today, so the financial and administrative burdens a new NPS unit would create were, and still remain a concern. While we are doing better economically, we all know that our public land agencies are all dealing with reduced budgets and severe cutbacks over the past decades. As we commented in 2011, we would hope that funding be secured from additional sources that do not impact or reduce the budgets of other NPS or USFS units, including our local Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

Another concern we had with the SGWMSRS was that Forest Service land outside the San Gabriel Watershed Study area under Alternative D would receive reduced services and resources from the Forest Service. We didn’t want to see all the priorities going to the National Recreation Area. Much of the area left out of the National Monument was not in the original San Gabriel Watershed Special Resource Study, which some have speculated is a reason for the exclusion from the National Monument. With our SGMNM, we have the same concerns: that areas outside the Monument under Forest Service control would be the forgotten stepchild of the National Monument.  While much attention is being placed on the National Monument, we are also seeing benefits to the rest of the Forest.

Chu’s legislation aims to correct the omission of those Forest Service lands from the SGMNM. Title 2 of HR3820 appears to expand the boundary of the existing SGMNM to include all of the Angeles National Forest south of the 14 and east of the 5. It makes no other claims and places no additional burdens on the Forest Service with respect to additional time to prepare a Management Plan. We are beginning to see the impacts of the additional funding the National Monument designation has brought to the Angeles National Forest. Thus far, we see it as good for the Forest. While we do have concerns that when and if the current bill is enacted, the Monument Management plan currently in development will need to be revised once again. Chu’s bill simply applies whatever existing National Monument management plan is in place or in development to the expanded Monument. While sounding simple in theory, the burden of changing boundaries and evaluating the additional cultural, historical, ecological and recreational resources within the expansion will take additional time.

The expansion of the existing National Monument in HR3820 already has much support within the community. Tim Brick from the Arroyo Seco Foundation has been especially vocal about his disappointment with the way the current National Monument boundaries were drawn, and that it happened without any public process or explanation of the reasoning. His feelings are widely echoed in the community, especially now that we are seeing additional funds being allocated to the Forest Service since the National Monument designation.

Our initial thoughts on the bill are positive but guarded; we need more time to digest the content of the bill and its long-term ramifications. Its intentions are in line with those of CORBA’s mission: enhancing recreation, and protecting the lands on which we recreate. If you have strong feelings about the bill please let us know as we formulate our official position.

Map of the proposed San Gabriel National Recreation Area and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Expansion:

Complete text of HR3820


San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, One Year Later

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Last Saturday, October 10, 2015, was the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s declaration of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Since that was a holiday weekend, and they didn’t want to impact Forest visitors, the official celebration by the Forest Service was held today, Friday October 16, 2015.

Chu plants a tree

Chu plants a tree

Dignitaries, partners, volunteers, and invited guests were bused up to the idyllic Oaks Picnic Area along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. It was a perfect location for the celebration and a great example of how the Monument designation has brought much-needed resources and attention to our Forest. This day use area was recently renovated with a new trail to the stream, multilingual interpretive signs, new and renovated amenities and a new kiosk, trash dumpsters, and a new sign which was unveiled today. The celebration was also a call to action, and folks volunteered, putting finishing touches on the signs, painting, planting trees and grooming the new trail. Even Congresswoman Judy Chu planted a tree.

Since the Monument declaration, our Angeles National Forest seems to have changed from an afterthought to a national priority within the Forest Service. We heard from Robert Bonnie, Undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture, that $3 million in new funds were appropriated this year, with another $3 million for next year. The Coke Foundation announced a $900,000 contribution. Water is an important ingredient in Coke’s products, so they understand and support the efforts to protect watersheds. Edward Belden of the National Forest Foundation announced they have exceeded their goal of raising $3 million in donations, and are now up to $3.7 million. The long-vacant staff positions recently filled, the current new job openings, new Field Rangers, new Volunteer director, as well as this newly renovated picnic area are all great examples of improvements that are in the works and planned with these additional funds.

20151016014-San Gabriel Mountains National Monument One Year Celebration

Congresswoman Judy Chu

The biggest moment of the event was Congresswoman Judy Chu’s announcement that next week she will introduce a bill to expand the National Monument to include areas to the west that were inexplicably left outside the Monument boundary. Her bill will also establish a San Gabriel River unit of the National Park Service, as outlined in Alternative D of the San Gabriel River Watershed Special Resources Study. We learned of the bill a few weeks ago in a meeting with her staff, and are looking forward to seeing the final bill next week. We were pleased to hear the Congresswoman acknowledge mountain bikers alongside hikers, equestrians and OHV users as key stakeholders and supporters of the Forest and Monument.

CORBA and Forest Service Volunteers Mike and Robin McGuire were on hand to help check in the dignitaries and as the Angeles Mountainbike Patrol, are always a great ambassadors for both the Forest and for our sport. Our good friends and partners Jean Flores and Taldi Walter from REI were there, pictured below with Steve Messer (me) and Edward Beldon from the National Forest Foundation next to the newly unveiled sign. CORBA has been fortunate and grateful for the support we’ve received from REI and the grants that enabled us to help restore the Rim Trail, the Gabrielino Trail, and the Strawberry Peak trail.

Steve, Taldi and Jean (REI), and Edward (NFF)

Steve, Taldi and Jean (REI), and Edward (NFF)

We were introduced to the new Field Rangers, now patrolling the most heavily impacted areas to help educate the public and assist with maintenance. Our new volunteer coordinator Chris Fabbro was there with works from the Artists In Residence program. Supervisor Jeffrey Vail gave a laundry list of improvements since the declaration, and stressed the important roll we all play as partners, volunteers and stewards of the trails and our public lands. Regional Forester Randy Moore was on hand. Mary Wagner, Associate Forest Service Chief made it clear that this Forest and Monument has come to the forefront of their attention. Cliff Hanlon, of the San Gabriel Valley Chambers of Commerce spoke on behalf of the Community Collaborative, on which I’m participating, and our efforts to bring diverse perspectives and interests together to help inform Forest Service decisions. We had students from the San Gabriel Valley Youth Conservation Corps talk about how involvement in the Monument has changed their lives.

The speeches all had a common theme. The Monument designation is making a difference, despite what the LA Times claimed (a story which was well-refuted by Modern Hiker).  Over the course of the next two years, the management plan and transportation plan will be developed. But some improvements don’t need to wait for that, and we’re already seeing changes. Although the changes are not coming as fast as some would like, it definitely feels good to have something to celebrate just one year in.

More photos below (click More), and a complete gallery at


San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan Comments

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

need to changeToday, August 11, 2015, CORBA and the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA), submitted joint comments to the U.S. Forest Service on the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Plan and Land Management Plan Amendment’s “Need to Change” Analysis.  Our comments are linked below.

As members of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative, we have also signed the consensus comments submitted by the Collaborative group, which we helped develop.

These are an important milestone in the development of a management plan for our new National Monument. The Presidential Proclamation directed the Forest Service to develop a management plan within three years. Most management plans take longer than that to develop, but the Forest Service’s approach to amend the current plan should allow them to complete the plan within the alotted time frame. We were pleased that the Forest Service extended the current comment period to allow for more thoughtful comments.

We were in general agreement with most of the findings of the “Need to Change” analysis, which stated specifically that the existing Forest Plan guidance on Recreation Management did not need to change. However, the Proclamation calls for the development of a Transportation Plan, which could impact recreational trail management. Accordingly, we commented on the need to develop a transportation plan for the entire Forest, both to improve recreational opportunities and to protect the resources of the Forest.

It is now up to the Forest Service to take into consideration all of the comments submitted, and their own analysis to develop a draft Environmental Assessment and Monument Management Plan. We expect that draft to be available for public review in spring, 2016.

Until that time, we’ll continue to work with the Forest Service on project-level issues including trail maintenance and restoration, in accordance with our existing partnership and volunteer agreements.

Comment PDF:  2015-08-11 – CORBA and MWBA SGMNM Need to Change Comments

President’s Message: It’s complicated

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

There’s always a lot going on here in Southern California. We have recently submitted comments on the Rim of the Valley study. We’re expecting the Santa Monica Mountains NRA Interagency Trail Management Plan early next year. A new National Monument management plan development process just began, though CORBA has been involved in the Community Collaborative Group since last November. We’ve successfully alerted L.A. County of the need for another trail master plan, to be announced soon. We have pending Bike Park proposals, and a recently-opened Bike Park in Fillmore. We have a growing high school and middle school racing contingent. We have a new Forest Supervisor. There are wilderness proposals, missing links in trails, fire-damaged trails still in need of restoration, access issues on Etz Meloy (Backbone Trail). There’s no shortage of issues, threats to our public lands, our trails and access to them.

It’s complicated.

And it takes time to figure things out and try to get things right.  These studies and plans seem to disappear from the radar, only to re-emerge six months to a decade later. Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint, and CORBA is still at it after 28 years. Government is slow to move but no matter how frustratingly slow it sometimes seems, there is progress being made.

CORBA is busily engaged in all of these processes on your behalf, in partnership with IMBA, to help make sure there is progress. We continue to work to make sure the landscapes we ride and the trails we love are protected, improved, and remain open to our community.

We need each and every one of you to be engaged as well. After all, we’re all ambassadors of the sport when we’re on multi-use trails. This means ride an appropriate speed for your sightline (slow down!) and be courteous. Be safe. Follow trail etiquette best practices. Be an example for others. Leave no trace. Support CORBA. Sign a petition. There are lots of ways to have a positive impact.

Riding trails to explore our public lands is a passion we all share, and want to continue to enjoy. Enjoy your summer and keep on riding!


San Gabriel Mountain NM – Public Meetings June 22-27.

Friday, June 5th, 2015

stelprd3829626At our last San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (SGMNM) Community Collaborative (the Collaborative) meeting, we learned the dates of the first round of public scoping meetings for the new Monument Management Plan.

President Obama gave the Forest Service three years to develop a management plan for the monument. The first step in that process is reviewing the current Angeles National Forest Management Plan, and the Presidential proclamation declaring the moment. They need to determine what needs to change in the current management plan to bring it into compliance with the proclamation and the new Monument.

The Forest Service will continue to manage the same land that was the Angeles National Forest as the SGMNM. This means they don’t need to write a new plan for the Monument. Instead They will be developing an amendment to the current management plan.

At this series of public meetings the Forest Service will present a “need to change” document: what they have so far determined needs to change in the current plan. They will be seeking public input on what they have found, and looking for public comments. Comments could be supportive, suggestive of improvements or object to the findings.

Comments will be taken at the meetings. The deadline for comments will end 45 days after this “need for change” document is released, which is expected mid-June). We understand the document is not long, expected between 10 and 20 pages long. The meetings will be four hours long, with stations explaining each aspect of the proposed changes. People can arrive at any time during the four hour window to review the materials. They will also be made available online at

While we don’t expect any surprises that will affect trail access for mountain bikers or other user groups. We may see changes in management structure, projects, funding and staffing levels, community involvement and access, and other things that we must consider. Until the document is released to the public we won’t know exactly what it contains.

Watch for CORBA’s reports and alerts, CORBA’s comments, and suggested comments for our members, will be posted after the first meeting. Please attend if you’re able, or visit the Forest Service planning web site at: to keep updated.

Meeting Schedule – Save the Dates

June 22, 4-8 p.m. – Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave, Glendale California

June 23, 4-8 p.m. – Palmdale Legacy Commons Senior Center, 930 East Ave Q9, Palmdale, California

June 24, 4-8 p.m. – Glendora Public Library, 140 S. Glendora Ave, Glendlora, California

June 25, 3-8 p.m. – Pico House, 424 N. Main Street Los Angeles, California

June 26 4-8 p.m. – Big Pines Lodge, 24537 Big Pines Highway, Wrightwood, California

Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Released

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
The NPS Preferred Alternative
The NPS Preferred Alternative

The National Park Service (NPS) today released the findings of the Rim of the Valley (ROTV) study, including a draft Environmental Impact Report and Proposed Alternatives. The study has been underway since 2010. CORBA has commented on previous phases of the study and has also encouraged our members and the mountain biking community to do so.

The NPS has developed five alternatives for the public to comment upon. Their preferred alternative expands the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) to include much of the study area, which would allow the NPS to provide technical assistance to other land managers within the NRA.  Other alternatives include a “no action” alternative, meaning that nothing will change, a Conservation Partnership alternative, and a boundary expansion plus conservation partnership alternative.  A fifth alternative, which would have only provided planning assistance for a Rim of the Valley trail, was rejected as it didn’t meet the objectives of the study.

None of the proposed alternatives would affect or include any Angeles National Forest or San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which would remain under the management of the Forest Service. All alternatives (except the “no action” alternative) include the conceptual Rim of the Valley Trail, as originally envisioned by Marge Feinberg in her 1976 Masters thesis.

CORBA will be analyzing the study’s findings and will report back. Comments must be submitted before June 30, 2015.  An executive summary can be found here. The comprehensive set of related documents and maps, and a comment submission form can be found on the NPS Park Planning web site, while a more user-friendly overview of the process can be found at

The NPS is hosting six public meetings between April 21, 2015 and June 2, 2015 to discuss the findings and alternatives presented in the draft study report. We invite and encourage all CORBA members and supporters to attend one of the public meetings. For those unable to attend, we’ll post a full report after the first meeting.

Online/Virtual Public Meeting:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 12:30 p.m.(PDT)/ 3:30 p.m.(EDT) (WebEx Connect Time)

Please check-in early as there could be some software downloads that you may need to install to participate. The meeting presentation will start promptly at 1:00 pm PDT/4:00 pm EDT.

Click here for instructions on how to participate in the online meeting.

Local Public Meetings Schedule:

Monday, May 4, 2015, 7–9 pm
La Crescenta Public Library, Community Room
2809 Foothill Blvd.
La Crescenta, CA 91214

Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 7–9 pm
William S. Hart Regional Park, Hart Hall
24151 Newhall Avenue
Newhall, CA 91321

Wednesday, May 6,2015, 7–9 pm
Conejo Recreation and Parks District
Community Room
403 West Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Thursday, May 21, 2015, 7–9 pm
Mason Recreation Center
10500 Mason Ave.
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 3-5 pm*
El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Hellman-Quon Building
130 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles CA 90012

What’s Next for the San Gabriels?

Friday, March 27th, 2015

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Sierra Club did a panel presentation on the future of the San Gabriel Mountains.  The panel members were Steve Scauzillo, local newspaper reporter, Daniel Lovato, Acting Supervisor, Angeles National Forest, Belinda Faustinos, Vice Chair, San Gabriel Mountains Forever, Tim Brick, Managing Director, The Arroyo Seco Foundation, and Edward Belden, Southern California Program Associate, National Forest Foundation.

Daniel Lovato gave an encouraging update on what’s already happened, and what is in the works for the coming months. There are some positive changes and staffing increases planned.  They’re filling several vacant staff positions, including a volunteer coordinator, which should make it better for us and take some load off Recreation Officer Dennis Merkel, who has been doing multiple duties over and above his Rec officer position.  There will be about 3 million dollars for Monument Management allocated to the mountains in 2015 from Region 5. Consultants are being hired to oversee the management plan development, as they don’t have the in-house capacity to undertake this effort.
SGMNM size comparisonMore money is coming for projects. Tentative plans include funding for ongoing and new restoration and redevelopment programs, removal of invasive species, funding of youth employment programs, hiring of paid personnel for the Visitors Centers and the development of a “Field Ranger” program.  They will be filling the visitor center positions by hiring recently returned veterans as part of a post-military service job placement program. Some of those will be on the ground by Memorial Day.
There are more than $1 million needed to update all the signs in the forest. They’re placing this at the bottom of the priority list for the moment. They’re also developing a spreadsheet of ready-to-go projects which they’ll make available to groups who are looking to donate time, materials or funds for specific projects. They are working on a partnership with corporations, including Coca Cola, and nonprofits to bring in more funds.
One of the themes of the evening was why the boundaries of the National Monument were set to exclude some of the most heavily used, historic, and popular areas of the front country. Nobody has an answer, not even the Forest Service.
Tim Brick of the Arroyo Seco Foundation was very adamant about the need to include the La River Ranger District and the Arroyo Seco. He also talked a lot about the Brown Mountain Dam, which he says the Forest Service doesn’t classify as a dam. However it is listed it as one of the most dangerous dams in the country on national infrastructure reports. It hasn’t been inspected since 1994. He also talked about how disappointed he was that people can’t walk up the arroyo canyon to switzers (Gabrielino trail) for the first time in Centuries. He said it used to be part of the the native American route up and over the mountains to the desert. “For the first time in history, after the station fire, people can’t go there and the trail is gone”.  He wasn’t aware, and we let him know, that CORBA has been funding the restoration of the trail over Brown Mountain dam through an REI Grant and a partnership with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

Belinda Faustinos, chair of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, thanked me for our extensive input on the new National Monument Public Involvement Plan. All the CORBA and MWBA recommendations were taken into consideration by the subcommittee and will be included in the report they will present at the next Community Collaborative meeting.
She went on to state that The San Gabriel Mountains Forever group’s primary mission is now to ensure the success of the National Monument, through grant funding, fundraising, community outreach, and through public input on the management plan. We fully support this.
Their secondary mission is to expand the National Monument to include those areas of the front country, Mount Lukens and the southwest LARRD , that was left out of the monument. This is something I believe CORBA can support, but only after we have a successful track record with the current monument. It will take either an act of congress or a new presidential proclamation to achieve this expansion. It’s unlikely to happen under the Obama administration, and more likely through legislation. Either way, it will take some time.
Their third priority is to establish new wilderness areas, including Condor Peak, Fish Canyon (now a Recommended Wilderness), and expansion of existing wilderness areas. This is where our opinions diverge. I’m hoping that the relationships we are developing through the collaborative will make it easier for us to negotiate and stand up for access to trails when those wilderness proposals surface.
There was also talk a brief mention of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study, which has been delayed for some time and has now missed three public release deadlines.
Edward Belden gave a great talk on the National Forest Foundation, and how they are working in Big Tujunga as a part of their Treasured Landscapes program, and have proposed a pilot project to remove invasive arundo from east fork of the San Gabriel river. One of his presentation slides acknowledged CORBA and MWBA as some of the groups they’ve partnered with on projects (Strawberry Peak Trail, National Trails Day, Etc).
There was some really encouraging news and a generally good vibe in the room. CORBA’s involvement in the Community Collaborative, and our continued efforts as both stewards of the trails and the lands through which they pass, is helping to bring together an at times divided trail community. We’ll continue to be engaged in ensuring the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument remain great places to ride a mountain bike.

President’s Message: Collaboration is Key

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

In this day and age the most effective way to achieve anything for the public good is to collaborate.  Whether those collaborations are with land managers, other trail user groups, public-private partnerships, or other entities, they are necessary. Nothing gets accomplished in a vacuum.

It was through a collaboration with a number of different groups that the Strawberry Peak loop was restored and re-opened in the Angeles National Forest, now the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. It was only possible with several groups pooling and sharing resources and coordinating our efforts. We couldn’t have done it alone.

To help bolster support and improve community participation in and stewardship of the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, a Community Collaborative group has been formed. As one of the 12 “steering committee” members, I had the opportunity to help shape what that group will look like. The first meeting of the full Collaborative group was on March 4th, 2015.

At that meeting we had a broad range of interests in attendance. About five people from the invitee list were absent, which is to be expected trying organize a group of this size. The first order of the day was introductions. Water was well-represented with several water districts and the association of water districts in attendance. We had Caltrans, Edison, two LA County representatives including a District 5 representative, and Flood control. There was also a San Bernardino County representative. Also present were a number of councils of governments, and a council of chambers of commerce. Recreation was represented BY CORBA, California Off-Road Vehicle Association and the Community Hiking Club, and Mount Baldy resort. Native American interests were there, along with several social and health justice organizations. The National Forest Foundation did an excellent job of winnowing down an extensive interest list to bring this group together.

B2-RkwlCQAAwUb7Since this was the first meeting of the full collaborative group, most of the day was spent going over and refining the draft documents that the steering committee had prepared. This included the guiding documents for the Collaborative, the Statement of Purpose, the Goals and the Code of Conduct. There was a lot of similar discussions to those the steering committee had already had, but these new points of view raised some issues that weren’t well-covered in our draft. We refined the documents and by day’s end, the group had formally ratified and adopted them.

We also heard an approximate timeline on the development of the Management Plan for the new monument, which must be completed by October 10, 2017, as stated in the Presidential Proclamation. Currently the Forest Service is developing a plan on how to reach out to the community effectively, this group being a key component of that plan. They have started preparing a “Need for Change” document, which states what needs to be changed in the current Angeles National Forest Management Plan to bring it into alignment with the language of the Proclamation. This need for change document will be posted publicly in the coming months as the starting point for the public process of developing the new management plan.

The group agreed to meet monthly during this first and extremely important year of the management plan development. We will continue to be active throughout the three-year process, and beyond.

Collaboration is key to the success of this endeavor. One of the big changes in the 2012 Forest Planning Rule, was an added emphasis on collaborative efforts as a more productive way of engaging the public in planning processes. There are many collaborative groups working on different Forests and Monuments, but this is the first in a major metropolitan area. Our population base and size presents unique challenges, but I’m confident that this Collaborative will be a productive one, supporting the efforts of the Forest Service to improve the Forest, this new National Monument, and to benefit the communities that depend on it.

One of my roles as a member of the Community Collaborative is to bring your concerns to the table going forward. Feel free to contact me with any concerns that you might find. In turn, I’ll be reporting back to you on the work and progress of the Collaborative, in addition to the Forest Service management plan development process.

Thanks to the National Forest Foundation for serving as neutral facilitators and organizers of this group. The purpose statement and code of conduct adopted on March 5, 2015 are below:

2015 – Statement of Purpose and Goals

2015 – Community Collaborative Code of Conduct