Archive for the ‘San Gabriels National Monument’ Category

2018 Angeles National Forest Trail Stewardship Summit Report

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

This past weekend we had an amazing four days at the 2018 Angeles National Forest Trail Stewardship Summit. In the days prior to the summit, we showed some of our trails, our previous trailwork, and our current Gabrielino trail restoration project to Regional forest service staff, and trail construction experts.

The Angeles National Forest was selected as one of fifteen priority sites for trail maintenance under the National Forest Trail Stewardship Act of 2016. As a priority site, the goal is to double the number of trail miles maintained on the Angeles.

We held a series of discussions with Forest Service Region 5 about our trail system and Station Fire recovery efforts. CORBA has received $35,000 in grants from REI and Southern California Edison, for the Gabrielino Trail restoration. CORBA and MWBA’s awesome volunteers have contributed over 2500 hours of volunteer labor at a value of over $56,000.

Some great news has come out of the summit. Using the above contributions as a match, the regional office of the Forest Service has allocated $100,000 to restore and improve the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. We’re in the process of writing up a formal cost-share partnership agreement with the Forest Service to manage that investment into our local trails.

At the summit, partners, volunteers and Forest Service staff brainstormed on how to remove bottlenecks to getting things done. We discussed how to make it easier for volunteers to do the necessary paperwork by moving to an online system, minimizing shuffling paper and lengthy email chains. We talked about how to get better information on trails and their conditions for the public, as well as how to better coordinate efforts between volunteer groups. Good things are in the works and potential solutions to both of these shortfalls are being explored right now.

CORBA President Steve Messer spoke about the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative (video here), and on how volunteers and NGO’s like  CORBA and MWBA, and the partnerships we have with the Forest Service are a vital component of sustainability of our trails (video here).  Other presentations from LA County, Equestrian trail patroller, Jim Lesh, IMBA Trail Solutions, MWBA, and regional Forest Service Trails Coordinator Garrett Villanueva helped guide the breakout sessions exploring how to achieve some of these goals.

We then spent two days learning about and refining our trail maintenance skills on Sunset Ridge Trail, where volunteers and trail crew leaders learned updated techniques to managing water on trails, minimizing erosion, and decreasing future maintenance needs. We learned from some of the most knowledgeable trailbuilders from IMBA Trail Solutions and the Forest Service. Sunset Ridge trail received some treatments to help improve water control.

It was an extremely positive summit with lots of productive exchange and a path to move forward. We thank the Forest Service and their Regional staff, IMBA Trail Solutions, MWBA, the National Forest Foundation, and all the other volunteers and partners from around the region who participated.

 

Public Meetings Dec 5: Rosemead Blvd and East Fork San Gabriel Canyon

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

On Tuesday, December 5th there are two conflicting public meetings of interest to those who ride bicycles in the San Gabriel Mountains or the San Gabriel Valley.

San Gabriel River Confluence with Cattle Canyon Improvements Project

The other public meeting is to seek public input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the San Gabriel River Confluence with Cattle Canyon Improvements Project. CORBA, through our involvement with the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative, have expressed our full support for the project as proposed.

Click to Enlarge

This project will add much-needed trailhead improvements, interpretive and scenic trails, parking, bike racks, shuttle stops, multilingual signage, river access points and habitat restoration to this heavily-impacted area of the Forest. While not heavily used by mountain bikers, all of us who care about our Forest are supportive of these improvements.

The project is within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and is being developed in partnership with the Watershed Conservation Authority. The meeting will be held at the Angeles National Forest headquarters:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Angeles National Forest Headquarters
701 N Santa Anita Ave,
Arcadia, California 91006

Comments must be submitted by December 26, 2017, to:

EFSGR/Cattle Canyon Improvements Project
110 N. Wabash Ave.
Glendora, California 91741

or via email to: EFSGR@wca.ca.gov

 

LA County Rosemead Blvd Complete Streets Project

LA County’s Rosemead Blvd Complete Streets project proposes to add bike lanes, pedestrian walkways and other improvements to Rosemead Blvd through the Whittier Narrows area. This is the initial scoping meeting, where the County will be seeking public input on how to best improve this six-lane stretch of road to better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. The meeting will be held at the More information can be found at:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Pico Rivera Municipal Golf Course,
3260 Fairway Dr.,
Pico Rivera, CA 90660.

http://dpw.lacounty.gov/pdd/proj/rosemeadcs/

This project will have great value to our community, as it will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists accessing the Whittier BMX track, Whittier Narrows recreation area, and existing bike paths along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo. It is also close to the proposed Puente Hills Landfill, with its two planned and approved Bike Skills Parks.

We can’t be at both meetings, but want to encourage those with an interest in either to attend these meetings and be engaged in the process.

Public Lands Update

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

This year we have seen legislation introduced to further protect and enhance our local open spaces and public lands.

HR3039, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Act. Judy Chu introduced this bill in June. The bill would establish two new units of Wilderness within the Angeles National Forest. CORBA worked for two years with wilderness advocates to ensure these newly-proposed designations would not impact trails used by mountain bikers. The bill establishes the Condor Peak Wilderness and Yerba Buena Wilderness units, separated by the Condor Peak Trail. Condor Peak trail and Trail Canyon trail to the waterfall and campground would remain open to bicycles under this new designation.

Rim of the Valley

Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, S1993/HR4086.

This bill by Adam Schiff/Diane Feinstein would expand the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include open spaces around the Conejo, Simi, San Fernando, La Crescenta and Verdugo valleys. It does not change any land ownership or management but allows the National Park Service to partner with current land managers to improve habitat, wildlife corridors, and recreational opportunities. It puts into action the findings of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study. It does not impact bicycle access to trails and could improve recreational opportunities.

H.R. 2323: San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act. This act introduced by Judy Chu would establish the San Gabriel National Recreation Area as a unit of the National Park System. The NRA would cover river corridors and open spaces from the Angeles National Forest border through the San Gabriel Valley. It does not create any new federally-managed public land. It would allow the National Park Service to partner with existing land managers to improve habitat, biodiversity, and recreational access. It would also expand the boundary of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include areas of the Angeles Front Country that are currently outside the Monument.

While these bills have been introduced, it remains to be seen whether they will make it out of their respective committees.

CORBA’s mission includes the protection of the places we play. Nationally, as the current administration proposes major changes to environmental regulations, national monument boundaries (our San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is not expected to be a target of boundary reductions), forest management practices, permitted uses, we stand ready to speak up for our local public lands and the recreational opportunities they provide and we all cherish.

SGM Collaborative Recognized by Congresswoman Chu

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

On Saturday, July 29, 2017, a representative group of the San Gabriel Mountain Community Collaborative were on hand at Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Congressional Leadership Awards.  The Collaborative was honored with the “Building Bridges” award. CORBA President Steve Messer has served on the Collaborative since its initiation and formation committee, with MWBA President Jenny Johnson as his alternate bike/trails and recreation representative.  Together, we are the voice on the collaborative representing Mountain Biking, trails, and recreation, as one of 45 interest groups and stakeholder members. Steve also serves on the Steering Committee and is chair of both the Projects Committee and newly formed Trails/Recreation Ad-Hoc committee.

This is a truly appropriate award, as one of the Collaborative’s big successes has been to build bridges between National Monument supporters and opponents, environmentalists and recreationists, disparate interests and stakeholders, and to help build a bridge between the Forest Service and the public.  The collaborative has strived for consensus towards a common goal and has truly grown into a passionate Community of individuals and organizational representatives, with the shared goal of helping better communicating the needs of stakeholders and the public to the Forest Service in the management of our public lands.

Together, the Collaborative members have come to a deeper appreciation and understanding of each other’s perspectives and the diversity of needs, challenges, and opportunities facing our National Monument and the community of forest visitors, volunteers, permittees, and others who depend on and cherish these special mountains.

We must also thank Congresswoman Judy Chu for her tireless and ongoing efforts to support, protect, and now defend our San Gabriel Mountains and National Monument and Angeles National Forest, as well as the National Forest Foundation who have helped facilitate the tremendous work of the Collaborative.

Back Row, L-R: Chuck Myers, National Forest Homeowners Association, Judy Nelson, Glendora City Councilmember, Diane Erskine-Helrigel, Community Hiking Club, Steve Messer, CORBA, Edward Belden, National Forest Foundation; front row: John Monson, Sierra Club, Armond Garcia, LA County DPW, Liz Reilly, Duarte Councilmember, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Margaret Clark, Rosemead Councilmember, Kelly Gardner, San Gabriel Valley Water Association, and Michelle Nuttall, Southern California
Edison. The full Collaborative member list can be found here.

HR3039, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Act

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
Condor Peak Trail before the Station Fire

Condor Peak Trail (2007)

On June 23, 2017, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) introduced a new bill to expand wilderness areas in the Angeles National Forest, and protect several rivers as wild and scenic rivers. Spearheaded by the San Gabriel Mountains Forever group, the bill is the result of many years of efforts to protect our local mountains.

A previous success of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever group was the establishment of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. CORBA President Steve Messer has been representing mountain bikers on the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative, working alongside representatives of the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and other environmental and social justice organizations.

For the past eighteen months we’ve been working together to ensure that mountain biking gets due consideration in these proposals. CORBA has opposed previous wilderness efforts that hurt bicyclists’ access to trails. With support from IMBA and MWBA, we worked out boundary adjustments that expand the Sheep Mountain and San Gabriel wilderness areas, but do not impact any trails that are currently open to bicycles.

The bill also establishes two new units of the Wilderness Preservation System, the Condor Peak Wilderness and the Yerba Buena Wilderness. These two wilderness areas protect the majestic Condor Peak, while leaving the Condor Peak trail outside the wilderness areas with a wide buffer.  While Condor Peak is not a popular trail for cyclists, it offers an increasingly-unique wilderness-type backcountry experience for those seeking to challenge themselves in nature. The trail can continue to be maintained using mechanized tools.

The western boundary of the proposed Yerba Buena Wilderness is the Yerba Buena Ridge trail, which could provide an epic backcountry loop ride with Condor Peak trail. Both trails, however, are in need of maintenance and are on our radar for future restoration work.

Condor Peak Trail

The following areas will be designated as wilderness in HR 3039:

Condor Peak Wilderness: Located in the Lower and Upper Big Tujunga Watersheds this designation preserves 8,417 acres of public lands. The unit rises abruptly from 1,800 feet on its southern flanks to over 6,000 feet at its northern boundary near Mt. Gleason. The Condor Peak Trail will be outside the Western boundary of this unit. Yerba Buena Wilderness: Preserves one of the most spectacular undeveloped landscapes in the San Gabriel Mountains (6,774 acres). The Condor Peak trail is just outside the eastern boundary of this unit. The western boundary is 300′ from the Yerba Buena Ridge trail, leaving both open to bicycles. The Trail Canyon Trail is cherry-stemmed (excluded from wilderness) up to the campground and waterfall. San Gabriel Wilderness Additions: This adds 2,027 acres to the existing San Gabriel Wilderness encompassing areas with dramatically rising slopes and a variety of flora and fauna. Sheep Mountain Wilderness Additions: Adds 13,851 acres to the established Sheep Mountain Wilderness. The Sheep Mountain Wilderness Additions are contiguous with the existing wilderness and add important landscapes to the wilderness area’s northwest and southwest/southern flanks.The bill also protects the 25.3 miles of the East, West and North Forks of the San Gabriel River, and 20.2 miles of Little Rock Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

We truly appreciate being able to be proactive, working with the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, CalWild, and the San Gabriel Mountains Forever group. We also benefited greatly from IMBA’s support at the national level, and our partnership with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association locally.

While this wilderness bill does not hurt mountain bikers’ access to trails, it does nothing to expand or directly improve existing opportunities. It does however, protect the remote backcountry experiences provided by the Condor Peak trail, the Yerba Buena Ridge trail, and the lower Trail Canyon Trail, ensuring these trails through this pristine landscape will be preserved, ready to be experienced by foot, hoof or bicycle.

Support the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

CORBA, IMBA, REI, and NFF at the Oaks Unveiling

CORBA has submitted a letter supporting the preservation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. President Trump’s executive order 13792 called for a revision of the many National Monuments that were presidentially-designated under the Antiquities Act from the last two decades. Department of Interior Secretary Zinke has been charged with overseeing the review of these National Monuments for a number of specific items:

In making the requisite determinations, the Secretary is directed to consider, and is seeking public comment on:

(i) The requirements and original objectives of the Act, including the Act’s requirement that reservations of land not exceed “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected”;

(ii) whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest”;

(iii) the effects of a designation on the available uses of designated Federal lands, including consideration of the multiple-use policy of section 102(a)(7) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701(a)(7)), as well as the effects on the available uses of Federal lands beyond the monument boundaries;

(iv) the effects of a designation on the use and enjoyment of non-Federal lands within or beyond monument boundaries;

(v) concerns of State, tribal, and local governments affected by a designation, including the economic development and fiscal condition of affected States, tribes, and localities;

(vi) the availability of Federal resources to properly manage designated areas; and

(vii) such other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate. 82 FR 20429-20430 (May 1, 2017).

As a participating member of the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative, CORBA agrees with the findings expressed in the Collaborative’s letter to Secretary Zinke. While there are both supporters and one-time opponents of the Monument on the Collaborative, the Collaborative’s letter specifically addressed each of the seven points of consideration listed above without expressing support or opposition to the monument itself. The findings are that the Monument meets or exceeds the criteria established above. The Collaborative’s letter can be found HERE

CORBA has submitted a letter of support as well, and we urge our members and constituents to submit your own comments at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001.

CORBA’s letter can be found HERE.

 

San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study

Monday, August 24th, 2009

August 24, 2009

From the National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/pwro/sangabriel/index.htm

The National Park Service is conducting a “special resource study” of portions of the San Gabriel River watershed and the San Gabriel Mountains. Our current newsletter presents several draft alternative concepts for the area, each of which offers a different collaborative, partnership-based approach to resource protection and public use and enjoyment, while respecting existing land management and ownership. You may download newsletter #4 from this web site or you may request a printed copy from our office. If you would like to provide comments on the newsletter online, click here.

In a special resource study, a proposed addition to the national park system receives a favorable recommendation from the National Park Service only if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • it possesses nationally significant natural or cultural resources;
  • it is a suitable addition to the system;
  • it is a feasible addition to the system; and
  • it requires direct NPS management, instead of alternative protection by other public agencies or the private sector.

We will be hosting five public meetings between August 31 and September 15 in cities throughout the study area. The schedule is listed below. Please join us at one of the public meetings to learn more about the draft alternative concepts, and to share your ideas, thoughts and concerns. Your comments by mail, e-mail and internet are welcome through October 30, 2009.

Public Meeting Locations and Times

We look forward to meeting you and hearing your ideas and comments at one of the following public meetings:

(Note: Because of the Station Fire burning in the area, some of these meeting times or locations may be changed. Check here for updates!)

El Monte (map)
Monday, August 31st
7pm – 9pm
City of El Monte Senior Center
3120 N. Tyler Avenue
Diamond Bar (map)
Wednesday, September 2nd

7pm – 9pm
Diamond Bar Center Ballroom
1600 S. Grand Avenue

Santa Clarita (map)
Thursday, September 3rd

7pm – 9pm
George A. Caravalho Activities Center
Santa Clarita Room A
20880 Centre Point Parkway

Glendora (map)
Monday, September 14th

7pm – 9pm
Glendora Public Library
140 South Glendora Avenue
Palmdale (map)
Tuesday, September 15th

7pm – 9pm
Larry Chimbole Cultural Center,
Lilac Room
38350 Sierra Highway

As directed by Congress in July 2003 (P.L. 108-042) , the National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a “special resource study” of portions of the San Gabriel River and its tributaries from the city of Santa Fe Springs to the north, and the San Gabriel Mountains within the territory of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. This area includes portions of the Angeles National Forest, as well as many communities along the San Gabriel River. Many people, organizations, and agencies are working to conserve resources in this area to provide recreational opportunities, habitat restoration, watershed improvement, and flood protection. This study is intended to build on and complement the efforts that are underway.

Quick links:

 

Vetter Mountain Trail to Open May 5, 2017

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

After more than two years of dedicated volunteer work by CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers, we’re happy to announce that the Vetter Mountain Trail, near Charlton Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, will be open to the public this weekend.

Our volunteer sawyer crew has been cutting downed trees off the trail, clearing brush, and working to reopen the heavily-damaged trail. It is in one of the most badly burned areas of the 2009 Station Fire, and thousands of trees killed in the fire have been falling since then.

Vetter Mountain Trail, May 2010

We surveyed the trail for the Forest Service in 2010, the year after the Station Fire. The area had barely begun recovering and would need several more years before work could begin. Vegetation had to grow back, hillsides stabilize, and standing dead trees would fall to the ground. Intense poodle dog settled in not long after, increasing the hazards.

October 2015 we began volunteer work, needing to first clear the trail corridor as best we could, and in many cases, locate the trail. CORBA and MWBA Chainsaw crews began the heavy work. Sawyers have cut well over 100 trees that fell across the trail, and dozens more on the roads to access the trail, in ten days of chainsaw work over the last year. We cut back brush that was choking off the trail, and reopened the corridor. Three times over the past year we cleared the entire trail of downed trees, only to return months later to start again.

Volunteer Sawyers begin work on Vetter in 2015

Earlier this year, hot shots fire crews were able to fell most of the largest standing hazard trees, reducing hazards along the trail corridor. The rate of trees falling is slowing down, especially since the big windstorms of this past winter. Numerous dead trees are still standing, and will continue to pose a hazard for some time, much like many other trails in the recovering areas. Be especially aware if you’re on the trails in a burn zone during high winds or bad weather, as dead trees are especially prone to falling in these conditions.

Volunteers on National Trails Day

Last Saturday, at our urging, the Forest Service scheduled the annual National Trails Day volunteer project on the Vetter Mountain trail. Volunteer Crews from Coca Cola, MWBA, CORBA, JPL Trail Builders, Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association, National Forest Foundation and many other groups and individuals proceeded to re-establish tread and cut back brush. Sawyer crews chainsawed a dozen or more trees from the trail. Sunday, CORBA volunteer sawyers returned to continue cutting the remaining downed trees from the trail.

Today, Thursday May 4, the CORBA team will return to put some final touches on the trail, remove the last remaining obstructions, and officially remove the “trail closed” signs in preparation for the trail’s opening this weekend.

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It is part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a popular mountain bike loop that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

Once lush with majestic conifers, and known for a series of switchbacks, followed by a flowy descent along a drainage, the trail looks much less apocalyptic than it did on our first survey in 2010. The area is recovering, but it is still within the burn zone, and will look very different from it’s pre-fire state. We’re just happy to have it back!

The Vetter Mountain trail has been closed for 8 years. It was part of the classic and much-loved Chilao Figure 8, a route that includes the Charlton Connector Trail, Vetter Mountain Trail, Mount Hillyer Trail, connecting fire roads, and the Silver Mocassin trail. It has been missed, and will be enjoyed once again!

2016: A Busy, Productive Year

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

2016 is behind us, and what a year it was for CORBA and mountain bikers! We were extremely busy last year, cutting trails, cutting trees, and working on behalf of the mountain bike community to ensure continued and improved access to mountain biking in the greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura County areas.

Jim Burton cuts the ceremonial ribbon, as Steve Messer, Matt Lay and Jenny Johnson of MWBA, and Ken's daughters Heather and Tania look on.

Opening of Ken Burton Trail

In 2016, the Gabrielino Trail Restoration project, with REI, Bellfree Contractors, and Los Angeles Conservation Corps, was completed.  Ken Burton Trail restoration with MWBA was completed, opening the Ken Burton trail and a popular loop after seven years of closure, thousands of volunteer hours, and nearly three years of planning.

(more…)

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Comments

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative

The Community Collaborative hands comments to the Forest Service

Last Thursday, October 27, 2016, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative group (Collaborative) finalized their consensus comments on the SGMNM Management Plan. The process was helped immensely by the extension of the public comment period through to today, November 1st.

The Collaborative took a long, hard look at the draft Management Plan, and felt that it fell short of accomplishing everything desired by the community, and mandated by the Presidential Proclamation.  I served on the Monument and Transportation Plan Coordinating Committee, tasked with developing comments for the entire Collaborative to review and approve. We broke down the management plan, and assigned sections to those with expertise and interest in the section topics.  I helped write the Sustainable Recreation section with the Sierra Club representative, while the Heritage Resources section was initially drafted by an archaeologist. Over the course of two months, numerous conference calls, and four Collaborative meetings, the comments were developed and modified into a document that all members could support.

The Collaborative’s strength comes from the diversity of its membership. When the Collaborative was convened, effort was made to bring in diverse and sometimes opposing viewpoints, including some who did not initially support the Monument. Over the course of nearly two years, Collaborative members have become much more aware of and sensitive to the issues and viewpoints of other members. It’s been a slow process of building trust, and coming up with compromises that support the greater vision for the Monument.  The member list is available on the National Forest Foundation’s SGM Community Collaborative page, along with all our meeting records and documents.

The Collaborative code of conduct prohibits any Collaborative member from submitting individual or organization comments that are contradictory to those of the Collaborative.  CORBA’s comments supplement the Collaborative comments, addressing a few issues not addressed by the Collaborative. Both are posted here for review.

Nothing in the Management plan directly affects mountain bike access to existing trails. Much of the draft plan and the Collaborative comments concern social and environmental justice, transportation, and heavily impacted areas of the Monument.

The Forest Service expects to release a Final Management Plan next spring, as they read through and respond to all the public comments received. That will be followed by an objection period, then a final Record of Decision.  The Presidential Proclamation mandates the completion of the plan by October 10, 2017, the third anniversary of the establishment of the Monument.

The Collaborative’s Comments

CORBA and MWBA Comments