Archive for the ‘San Gabriel Mountains’ Category

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument meeting, August 26th, 2014

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Supervisor Tom Contreras intLast night an overflowing crowd packed into the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center to hear from a panel of “experts” about the future of the San Gabriel Mountains. Among the honored guests and panel of experts were Robert Bonnie, the undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture, Tom Tidwell, Chief Forester of the Forest Service, Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the Southwest United States, and congressmen Judy Chu, Los Angeles County Supervisor-elect Hilda Solis, Janice Rutherford, San Bernardino Board of Supervisors Chairperson. Local politicians and wilderness advocates rounded out the panel, with Victor Diaz, chair of the Friends of the Angeles group, as the sole “user group” representative.

Also in the room were Tom Contreras, Supervisor of the Angeles National Forest, as well as Jody Noiron, Supervisor of the San Bernardino National Forest, and all of their respective district rangers. In fact there were more Forest Service staff and volunteers on hand than any event or public meeting I’ve ever had the privilege to attend.

The auditorium was packed to capacity, with over 200 people unable to enter the room because room capacity has been reached. The WIlderness Society and San Gabriel Mountains Forever group were offering free buses to the meeting, helping explain the huge turnout.

We learned from Tom Tidwell that a number of improvements will be happening in 2015, including new staff hires, new signage and other improvements to the forest. Trail Crews from the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Urban Youth League are out continuing to restore and repair trails.

The panel were each asked a single orchestrated question by Oscar Gonzales, California State Executive Director of the Farm Services Agency, who also flew out from Washington DC. Their answers were well-orchestrated, mostly singing the potential praises of a National Monument. There were no specific plans or proposals revealed. Only Janice Rutherford from San Bernardino County asked the important questions: how will this be managed, what is the management plan, how will this be funded, how will economic development (for areas such as Wrightwood), recreation and conservation be balanced and impacted. Most importantly, why is this happening so suddenly with no outreach or input to her community?

I could ask the same… why no outreach to our community (of mountain bikers)?

In fact, for all the talk of how this process is starting, there was not even an opportunity to ask questions, and oversized postcards were the only means given to submit anonymous comments. There are no resources or commenting options available online.

After the meeting, in my conversations with the wilderness advocates, and with Tom TIdwell by Jenny from Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, we were given some verbal assurances: That the Forest Service would continue to manage the proposed National Monument, and that the intent is to continue to allow all forms of recreation currently allowed. These verbal assurances, while comforting, came with a caveat of “no guarantees.”

The stature of the dignitaries in town for this theater of support that there has to have been some very high-level discussions and planning going on behind the scenes. But for this meeting, the first real public outreach, nobody was able to refer to a specific plan, the language of the proclamation, nor discuss the ulterior motives of those behind the plan.

For that we need to dig a little further into the history of the efforts to “protect” the San Gabriel Mountains. In 2003 Hilda Solis and Barbara Boxer introduced the San Gabriel Watershed Study, to determine the area’s suitability for a National Recreation Area. Separately, The Congressionally authorized Rim of the Valley Study has been taking place over a similar time span. Most recently, the four Southern California National Forests were charged with re-assessing and amending their management plan, with a greater emphasis on protecting the landscape for threatened and endangered species habitat protection. We are still waiting on the final outcome of that land management plan amendment, but as of our last meetings, the Fish Canyon area north of Castaic was being proposed as a Recommended Wilderness. Additionally, David Drier introduced a wilderness bill in 2011, and Congressman Buck McKeon is currently considering another.

The San Gabriel Mountains Forever group, with close ties to the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club, have been lobbying hard for additional resources and protection for the San Gabriel Mountains.

Congressman Judy Chu has introduced two bills, one to create a National Recreation Area, the other to declare many thousands of acres of new Wilderness, including Condor Peak, Fish Canyon, Red Mountain and other areas. The Forest Service’ own Land Management Plan amendments determined that Condor Peak and Red Mountain were a) not suitable for wilderness protection, and b) would be provided little if any additional “protection” by a Wilderness designation. We have to ask why does Chu’s bill ask for these additional wilderness areas that have been fought over and removed from previous wilderness legislation, and found unsuitable? Our official comments on that plan reflected this. Her National Recreation Area bill was similarly vague on specifics, and we thought, premature.

Frustration with the lack of congressional support for those bills is what supposedly drove Chu to petition the White House for a National Monument declaration, which bypasses congress and the debate and scrutiny it would receive there. The President, under the Antiquities Act, can declare a National Monument without the support of Congress.

At this time we simply do not have enough information to make an informed decision as to whether the National Monument is a good idea that will help Forest visitors, or one that will just add an additional layer of bureaucracy. The way some of the panel gushed about the plan, one could be led to believe that the declaration would instantly take care of overflowing trash, lack of bathrooms and facilities, trail maintenance, graffiti and other problems. But there has been no talk of how much, if any, additional funding this would bring, now how it will be managed and implemented.

We’d like to see the San Gabriel Mountains receive a new influx of funding and staff. We’d like to see better services and infrastructure needed to protect the mountains, and continue to allow us to recreate responsibly. A National Monument may in fact be the vehicle to get us there. We simply don’t have enough detailed information to make that decision.

We plan to meet with congress members whose districts include portions of the San Gabriel Mountains, as well as the conservationists that are lobbying hard for this. Until we have some face-to-face time with these people, and have answers to our questions, we must remain officially neutral, while at the same time being guardedly optimistic for the future of our beloved mountains.

Station Fire Closure to Expire, Strawberry Peak Loop Opens

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Station fire damage to Strawberry Peak trail

Station fire damage to Strawberry Peak trail

The Station Fire burned over 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest in 2009. The most recent Station Fire Closure Order went into effect on May 25 last year, and is in effect until May 24, 2014.  The Forest Service will not be renewing the general closure order. Instead, some trails that have yet to be restored will remain closed, along with some higher elevation fireroads. This is both for public safety and additional resource protection and recovery.

The following trails will remain closed:

  • Strawberry Peak Trail 12W05.1 (From the junction with Colby Canyon trail north to Upper Big Tujunga)
  • Lower Gabrielino Trail 11W14 (between Bear Canyon trail junction and Paul Little Campground)
  • Ken Burton Trail 12W19 (the complete trail)
  • Millard Waterfall trail (a non-system user-created trail)
  • Barley Flats Trail
  • Santa Clara Divide Road 3N17 (between Alder Saddle westward to the intersection with the BPL road near North Fork Station)
  • Axial roads that connect to the closed portion of 3N17 will also remain closed:
    • 4N32 (BPL Road) between 3N17 and 4N33
    • 4N33 (Moody Truck Trail) between 3N17 and 4N32
    • 4N24 (Beartrap Truck Trail/SCE Service Road) between 3N17 and Aliso Canyon Road
    • 3N90 (Roundtop) between 3N17 and Roundtop Peak
    • 3N32 (Mendenhall Ridge Road) between 3N17 and Indian Ben Saddle

Additionally, the following campgrounds will remain closed:

  • Messenger Flats Campground
  • Lightning Point Campground
  • Big Buck Campground

Note that some media reports have indicated that the Colby trail would be closed, without specifying which segments. Rest assured that the segments of the Colby Canyon trail that comprise the classic “Strawberry Peak Loop” will be opened. The segment of Colby Canyon trail north from Josephine Ridge to Highway 2 is still in very poor condition and not recommended for bicycles, though it will be opened.

Strawberry Peak after restoration

Strawberry Peak after restoration

We must acknowledge once again the generous support we received from REI to help fund the professional services of Bellfree Contractors, tools and food for volunteers, that allowed us to complete the restoration of the Strawberry Peak Trail. The restoration effort included a re-route of a particularly troublesome section, which was planned out as a part of the IMBA Trail Care Crew visit in 2012. We coordinated our efforts with The National Forest Foundation, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, and the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter trail crew. And of course, our biggest thanks go to the many volunteers who came out to our trailwork days on Strawberry Peak. We’ll be doing more trailwork there as we continue to maintain the trail in the future.

The Gabrielino Trail will be our next focus, and stay tuned for important news regarding that effort. We must emphasize that the closed segment of the Gabrielino trail is not ready for public use. At least three groups of trail users who ignored the closure have had to be extracted by Search and Rescue. Please stay off the closed trails listed above for your own safety.

 

 

Niner Bike Frame is Grand Prize for Trailwork Volunteers

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Could it be YOU who wins a frame like this Niner?

Could it be YOU who wins a frame like this Niner?

As part of the thank-you for volunteers who help with maintaining our trails in good riding order, CORBA has been giving away mountain biking swag at the end of each event. To speed things up on trailwork days, and to allow some really great  (ie, expensive!) prizes to be given away, we will instead have a drawing at the end of the year for all the volunteers who come out during that year.

We have a Niner frame waiting for some lucky volunteer, plus other great prizes including grips and saddles from Ergon!

In order to be eligible for the drawing, volunteers must register for events in advance on our Meetup group, show up at the event and sign the standard waiver form. At the end of the year, we’ll go back through all the Meetup events and count the number of times each volunteer helped out. Everyone will get one chance in the drawing for each time they participated.

Now by helping to keep our trails in good shape, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re giving back to the trails community, of contributing to the enjoyment that others have in our open spaces, and also having a chance at scoring a sweet ride from CORBA and Niner!

Good luck and thanks for helping out!

Angeles National Forest Recreation Fee Proposed Changes

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Adventure PassThe Forest Service has proposed major revisions to the Angeles National Forest recreational fees. Similar revisions are proposed for the San Bernardino National Forest, Cleveland National Forest and Los Padres National Forest.

The proposed changes will result in fees being required only at concentrated, developed sites, while larger areas of the forest will become free for public use. Fee amounts will remain the same, at $5 for a day pass, or $30 for an annual adventure pass.

Under the new fee structure, fees are to be charged only where there are services and developed facilities including bathrooms, kiosks/interpretive signs, trash collection, picnic tables and security patrols. Sites lacking one or more of the above will be free.

In the Angeles Front Country, for example, fees  would continue to be required at Millard Day Use Area, Switzers Picnic Area, Red Box, Skyline Park (Mount Wilson), and Chantry Flats. All other front country areas would become free for public use. Note that the forest service has already stopped enforcement of passes at the areas where fees will be dropped under the new fee structure. Full details of front country changes are available here.

While CORBA supports this more reasonable and appropriate fee structure, we do have concerns that it may result in reduced levels of service across the National Forest as a whole. The financial impacts of the proposed changes are as yet undetermined. National Forest budgets have faced continued reductions over the past decade, and staff levels are at an all-time low. Recreational Fees have helped fill the budget shortfalls, funding numerous improvements to facilities within the National Forest.

The California Recreational Resource Advisory Committee (R-RAC), a citizen’s Federal Advisory Committee, is charged with representing the public interest in matters of recreational fees and other issues. The proposed changes are on the R-RAC agenda for for January 15-16, 2014. Public comments to the committee must be made by January 6, 2014, emailed to: twilton@fs.fed.us.

Area maps and detailed descriptions of the affected areas of the Angeles National Forest can be found at:

For our other Southern California National Forests, visit their respective pages at:

 

 

 

What CORBA Does

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

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

Recently a bicycle club-team representative  contacted CORBA wanting to see what more they could do to get more of the trails that are currently closed to bicycles opened up to shared use. A couple of comments from the correspondence were that they thought that showing up in larger numbers to public meetings would help, and that they thought the main reason that trails were closed were because of an influential public anti-bicycle lobby.

I wrote back to the person who contacted me, and in doing so came up with what I think is a good overview of what CORBA has been doing for the past 26 years, and continues to do on behalf of all public backcountry trail users (see below). Yes, CORBA is a mountain bike organization, but we are more than that, and here’s why: We believe that shared use works better because it disperses use, rather than concentrating it. When you disperse use, you reduce congestion, and when you reduce congestion, you reduce confrontation. Moreover, it has been shown that where shared use trails exist, it works. Maybe not perfectly, but certainly better than where there are restrictions to bicycles, because shared use also fosters cooperation. Bicycles do mix when operated considerately and with the safety and serenity of other trail users in mind. And that’s the crux of the issue: If bicyclists would simply slow down around others, including other bicyclists, they would be solving the problem of both dangerous speed, and the “startle factor,” or the disruption of another’s peaceful enjoyment of the backcountry.

Here’s what I wrote to that bicycle club team member:

This year CORBA celebrated its 26th anniversary. In that time we have made many strides to opening trails to shared use (hiking, equestrian, bicycle) in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, and Eastern Ventura County. We have participated in hundreds of public meetings with land managers over the years. Land managers recognize and continue to adapt to the growing bicycle population and changing demographic profile of the trail user community. They are certainly aware of the needs and desires of the mountain biking community through CORBA’s efforts, which include quarterly meetings with principal agency managers (National Park Service, State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority). We are also in constant communication with these agencies and/or when the need arises to address a specific issue. CORBA also works closely with the Mountain Bike Unit which aids the rangers and community with safety and education. CORBA also schedules and organizes regular trail maintenance work days s in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. CORBA is also heavily involved with the Angeles National Forest with trail maintenance and volunteer patrol participation. Due to CORBA’s efforts, most of the singletrack trails built in the last 25 years are shared use (not to mention a lot of the singletrack that already existed not getting shut down).

 As you can see, there is more to getting involved than just showing up at meetings in large numbers. The issue of bikes not being allowed on trails is more than just politically active opponents to bicycles; it is mired in an outdated management policy of restriction that is predicated to a large degree on ignorance and a status quo mentality. Within the last few years there has been a systemic change for adopting shared use as the overriding management strategy. It is a slow moving process but we do see a very strong indication that within the next few years we will see many more trails opening to shared use on a statewide basis than currently exists. This change comes from consistent efforts not only by CORBA, but mountain bike advocates all over the state, with assistance from the International Mountain Bicycle Association (of which CORBA was a founding club in 1988).

 The one concern that is always at the forefront of managers’ minds is safety. It is agreed by everyone that bicycles are an acceptable form of public open space trail recreation. However, it is when riders go too fast around other users as to make it an unsafe or even just an unpleasant experience that gets mountain bikers a bad reputation, and gets the managers to thinking about restricting bicycles. If everyone would just slow down when passing others, and slow down into corners so they don’t scare others on the other side, we would pretty much solve the problem. I am not saying you shouldn’t go fast, I’m just saying do it when conditions are safe. 

Show Us Your Smile

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

smileSometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We have created this message tag with the help of BikeTags (biketag.wordpress.com) so that we can spread the message of goodwill, peace, and harmony throughout the world. Or maybe just the message “don’t worry, be happy.” The idea is to show other trail users that we belong, we care, and we can coexist. Similar to the SoCal High School Cycling League’s “spirit of howdy”, it’s a way to remember to slow down and smell the sage brush.

We’ll be making the CORBA Smile Tags available to anyone who wants one, just send an email request to info@corbamtb.com. We’ll be giving away prizes for the best photos of the tags on your bikes while on the trail. Photos will be judged on originality, creativity, and overall quality. (Details to follow in the coming weeks). The grand prize will be a Niner full suspension frameset, donated by Niner.

OK, so maybe putting the Smile Tag on your bike* won’t save the world. But a lot of times a little smile can go a long way.

*The Smile Tag is a high quality plastic laminated product and comes with all hardware necessary to mount on a handlebar or under the seat. If mounting to the handlebar, a hole may need to be punched at the bottom of the tag to help secure the tag to a brake or derailleur cable (see photo).

 

 

I’d Like to Thank…

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

When I learned that CORBA would be inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, my first reaction was, “where do we begin to start thanking people?” If you go back to the inception of CORBA, it all started with a 1987 Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) meeting where one of the agenda items was to consider adopting California State Parks’ policy of single track trails being closed to bicycles. So I guess you could say that CORBA owes a debt of gratitude to the SMMC for considering closing trails to bikes.

There were quite a few mountain bikers at that SMMC meeting, myself included. We sat patiently while the committee members discussed the pros and cons of allowing this “new” recreation on their public trails. They decided to adopt the State Parks policy, but they would continue dialogue with “the bike group” to see if bicycles could be integrated into the trail system. The cyclists in the audience looked around and silently acknowledged that “I guess we’re the bike group.” A legal pad was passed around and the list of people collected at that meeting became the impetus for CORBA. (Since then SMMC has adopted an inclusive policy toward mountain bikes.)

Twenty-six years later, we are still having to address issues of whether or not bicycles can coexist on public open space trails, mostly on State Parks’ trails. It’s like when snowboarding became popular at ski resorts. There was a lot of animosity leveled at snowboarders by skiers. A partial solution was to create separate areas where snowboarders could do their thing and skiers knew to stay away from those areas. But with public open space trails, we don’t necessarily have that luxury. If we want to share the trails, we have to behave accordingly and expect that there may be hikers, equestrians, and other (less experienced) cyclists on those trails.

The sport of mountain biking is evolving much like the sport of skiing has evolved to include snowboard riders. Separate areas are being developed to accommodate “gravity” mountain biking, and CORBA is working with land managers in our region to develop mountain bike parks that allow for more aggressive riding, including jumps, drops, and technical features. We will be announcing some very exciting news within the next few months regarding these new areas!

If you want something to last, you have to be willing to commit to the long haul. I’m not sure if that’s what the founders of CORBA set out to do, but thanks to them and everyone who got involved from then until now, we have a lasting legacy and solid foundation that will serve the next generation of mountain bikers in the greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.

And when we accept the award on behalf of CORBA for being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, you can be sure that everyone on that stage will be feeling the pride of all of those who have supported CORBA over the last 26 years.

 

Angeles National Forest Wilderness Proposal Update

Monday, March 25th, 2013
Burnt Peak Canyon Trail - one of the good sections

Burnt Peak Canyon Trail

Today, March 25, 2013, in a stakeholder meeting with the Forest Service and Wilderness advocates, we learned that our initial assessments of the National Forest Land Management Plan Amendments were based on an inaccurate interpretation of the draft proposal. Neither the maps supplied nor their descriptions show that the Forest Service had taken our comments into consideration.

In Alternative 2, the FS cherry-stemmed out the three official Forest Service trails in the area–Burnt Peak trail, Fish Canyon trail, and Gillette Mine trail–as per our initial requests. By “cherry-stemmed” we mean that they have drawn the wilderness boundary so that the trails retain a Backcountry Non-Motorized designation, allowing bicycles, while the surrounding area would become Recommended Wilderness. In this case the “cherry stems” are comprised of a 25-foot buffer either side of the historic trail alignment, as it is recorded in the Forest Service database.

While we greatly appreciate the Forest Service’s willingness to accommodate bicycles, there are a number of problems with this approach. First and foremost is the fact that sections of the official system trails are in disrepair and some sections have disappeared. Most of the trails in this area have been neglected for years, and for a portion of their length, have been reclaimed by nature. We have been led to believe that in some sections the only way to travel the “trail” is a wet-feet hike down the middle of the streambed. If true, this presents a problem for the future, as a 25’ buffer is not realistically wide enough to reconstruct these trails in a sustainable way, out of the streambed, or away from precipitous canyon walls. Having a trail corridor cherry-stemmed out of the wilderness will do us no good if we are unable to rebuild the trail because of the sensitive nature of the riparian habitat through which it passes, or trail engineering limitations.

We also learned that the Forest Service does not have a current Trail Master Plan or Travel Management Plan that clearly identifies official and unofficial trails and assesses their condition. Such a plan would ideally make recommendations for rerouting existing trails to more sustainable alignments, and also provide guidance on where new trails should be constructed or existing unofficial trails be made official, to accommodate growing future demands for recreational access, connectivity and diversity of experience.

At this point we must remain fully opposed to Alternative 3, which designates the Fish Canyon/Salt Creek, Tule and Red Mountain areas as recommended wilderness with no allowance for multi-use trails now or in the future. Alternative 3 would forever remove most recreational opportunities, including cycling, from tens of thousands of acres of land near the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley areas, leaving precious little land for future generations of mountain bikers and others who value both conservation and outdoor recreation.

Alternative 2 is the Forest Service preferred alternative. While far better for us than Alternative 3, because of the problems with the current trails and cherry-stems based on those apparently non-existent trails, we are reluctant to support Alternative 2 in its current form. We do, however, agree that the area as a whole is worthy of protection from development, infrastructure, road building, and extractive use. Such protections are already provided by a Backcountry Non-Motorized designation, and existing critical habitat designations. In fact, in Appendix 2 of the current draft, the Fish Canyon IRA Evaluation states “….a change in land status may not substantially increase protection.” Similar statements are made for each of the areas under consideration for recommended wilderness.

We believe that it is premature and irresponsible to designate a recommended wilderness for this area without a full assessment of the existing trails and future trail needs by Forest Service staff and/or trained professional trailbuilders. We urge the Forest Service to complete a trail master plan and/or travel management plan that includes full assessments of existing system and non-system trails, proposed re-routes of existing trails to more sustainable alignments, and the identification of desired new trail alignments that provide missing connectivity and a more diverse range of trail experiences. We could subsequently support the stronger protections of a special conservation area or recommended wilderness that cherry stems out the trail corridors identified in such a plan.

Further, we continue to have concerns about the Golden Eagle trail. While not an official Forest Service trail, it is the most popular singletrack trail for cyclists in the area. The trail appears to cross the proposed wilderness boundary, but only for very short distances. We and the wilderness advocates both agree that the proposed wilderness boundary should be adjusted to exclude this popular trail. But without data gathered by the Forest Service in a trail master plan, the exact location of an adjusted boundary would be an educated guess at best. Again, this is an issue that would be addressed by a travel management and/or trail master plan.

We must therefore express our support for Alternative 1, the no-change alternative, unless the aforementioned concerns are addressed within Alternative 2. Something that everyone recognizes is that the populations of Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys are growing. The mountain biking community is also growing rapidly. The most popular trails for SCV cyclists are in Tapia Canyon, private land that will one day be developed. We need to consider and allow for future demand for trails and balance that need with protecting remaining open space from development. Only Alternative 1 allows for future growth, while providing protection for this special area.

We have no additional comments on proposed changes in other areas of the Angeles National Forest, and defer to local advocacy groups for proposed changes in the Los Padres, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests.

After the public meetings, we’ll be putting together our official comments for the Angeles National Forest, and will encourage everyone to send their own comments to the Forest Service.

Wilderness Proposal Public Hearings – Be there to help save access to trails Apr 9, 10

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Fellow cyclists, the four Southern California National Forests Land Management Plan Amendment is currently in its public comment period. The amendment makes changes to Land Management plans in the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernadino and Cleveland National Forests. Within that proposal are two alternatives that will forever impact bicycle access to public lands in the Angeles National Forest.

Maps of the proposals are available here.

Fish Canyon Salt Creek Wilderness - Alternative 2

Alternative 2 Map – Click for a larger version

Alternative 1, the “no-action” alternative, is the only alternative we can presently support.

Alternative 2 retains a backcountry non-motorized status for Red Mountain and Tule districts, but it appears that the trails in the Fish Canyon/Salt creek areas may be forever closed. These trails have appeared in guidebooks dating back to the 90′s, and we have ride reports from much more recent times. We asked for these trails to be left out of any wilderness proposals.  There are many other trails, official and unofficial, in the area, and we’re seeking documentation of those trails. If you have knowledge of these potentially affected trails, let us know. We could support Alternative 2 if the trails in question are cherry-stemmed out of the wilderness proposal.

In Alternative 3, the Fish Canyon/Salt Creek proposed wilderness on which we commented last year has now been expanded to include the Red Mountain and Tule districts of the Angeles National Forest. These two areas lie to the east and south of the Fish Canyon/Salt Creek area. These two areas were not included as potential wilderness in the original scoping documents, and we therefore made no comment on them, other than to offer our general support for their designation for non-motorized backcountry use.  Now, in Alternative 3, these two areas and the many trails that traverse them are included as wilderness. Local riders have been riding these trails for more than 30 years, right up to the present. We cannot allow Alternative 3 to be adopted.

We too would like to see these areas protected, and feel that backcountry non-motorized designation gives the area adequate protection, but the environmental lobby is pushing for federal wilderness. We have proposed a compromise, a federally designated Special Conservation Area, which prohibits extractive use, development and road-building and can be custom tailored to allow for non-motorized recreational use, while affording stronger protection for and monitoring of the environment. This would require special legislation.

After the public meetings in March, we will be compiling and submitting our comments on the proposals. We encourage everyone to submit comments on the proposals, along with supporting documentation (GPS tracks, photos) of bicycle use of the trails. The comment period will close on May 16, 2013.

The Forest Service will be hosting multiple open house meetings during the comment period. The content and format of each meeting will be the same. Meetings will begin with an open house where Forest Service staff will be available to answer questions about the Draft SEIS. A brief presentation will begin 30 minutes after the meeting opens, followed by an opportunity to ask questions. Maps of the alternatives will be available for viewing. The meeting times and locations are:

  • March 26, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Angeles National Forest Headquarters, 701 North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91006 
  • March 26, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Alpine Community Center, 1830 Alpine Blvd, Alpine, CA 91901 (Hosted by the Cleveland National Forest)
  • March 27, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Palomar Ranger District Office, 1634 Black Canyon Road, Ramona, CA 92065
  • March 28, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Santa Clara Mojave Rivers Ranger District Office, 33708 Crown Valley Road, Acton, CA 93510 
  • March 28, 2013, 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM, San Bernardino National Forest Headquarters, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92408
  • April 9, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Mt. Pinos Ranger District office, 34580 Lockwood Valley Road, Frazier Park, CA 93225
  • April 10, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Southern California Edison, 103 David Love Place, Goleta, CA 93117 (Hosted by Los Padres National Forest)

For Further Information Contact Bob Hawkins, Project Manager atsocal_nf_lmp_amendment@fs.fed.us, or visit the
project website at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php?project=35130.

 

Update 3/25/2013:  We have learned more about the draft proposals and reported here.

 

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.