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Canyon Trail Sand Fire Trailwork

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Last Saturday, September 10, about 30 mountain bikers joined 50 or so HandsOn Santa Clarita volunteers to help with Sand Fire cleanup at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

The HandsOn crew focused on the west end of the trail and the parkland surrounding the Nature Center.  Meanwhile the SCV Trail Users headed up to the more heavily burned area at Walker Ranch campground.

We split up and built eight debris check dams in drainages that lead into the streambed of Placerita Creek. After a fire, soil and ash denuded of vegetation, can become major debris flows with a relatively small amount of rain. These debris flows do more damage to trails than anything else. We saw it in many areas of the Station Fire. I did an interview for Mountain Bike Action magazine, discussing the impacts of fire to trails.

The eight debris check dams will help capture sediment and slow down flows before they cross the trail and enter the canyon. They were constructed of native rock and sand bags filled from the dry streambed, upstream of the check dams.

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help, LA County for allowing us to help protect the trail we lobbied for access to, and to the SCV Trail Users for coordinating the effort.

We’re fulfilling our promise of being both responsible trail users, and stewards of our trails and public lands.

 

Canyon Trail Preventive Maintenance, Sep 10

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

In 2011, The Canyon Trail in Placerita Canyon State Park was closed to mountain bikes without warning. It had been mistakenly posted as open, with many mountain bikers using the trail for years. Local mountain bikers united with CORBA to successfully lobby the County to open the trail bikes. From that effort the SCV Trail Users were formed and together we continue to confront local trail issues.

Canyon Trail post Sand Fire

Canyon Trail post Sand Fire

Recently the Sand Fire scorched this area, and the County has asked for help to protect the Canyon Trail and the Placerita Canyon State Park from mud and debris flow when the winter rains come.

Please save the date, Saturday September 10, 8 am, at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. Give up one day of riding, and come help build debris check dams to reduce the flow of mud and debris from the Sand Fire onto the Canyon Trail and into the Park area.

We’ll be working alongside other volunteer groups including HandsOn Santa Clarita. Bring gloves, lots of water and snacks. The County will provide the materials and supplies for the check dams.

RSVP on the Facebook Event page.

Rim of the Valley Final Study Recommendations Released

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Final Study Recommendations

Final Study Recommendations

The National Park Service today released the Final Study Recommendations for the Rim of the Valley Corridor Special Resources Study. CORBA has been involved in the Rim of the Valley process since congress authorized the study in 2008, and even before that when the concept was only for a Rim of the Valley trail. We are pleased to see the final recommendation includes most of what we–and many other groups and individuals–suggested in our comments. The recommendation is a hybrid of Alternatives C and D of the draft released last June.

The Secretary of the Interior transmitted the final study to Congress on February 16, 2016.   The final study recommends a 170,000-acre addition to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.The selected alternative would add portions of the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco corridors, the Verdugo Mountains-San Rafael Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains foothills, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Conejo Mountain area to the national recreation area. Within the expanded area are: habitat types that contribute to the high biodiversity of the Santa Monica Mountains; functioning wildlife corridors; highly scenic landscapes; historic and archeological sites; geologic and paleontological resources; thousands of acres of open space and recreation areas; and miles of trails, all of which provide exceptional public enjoyment opportunities. Expanding Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area would provide new recreational opportunities for one of the most densely populated areas in the United States.

No lands currently managed by the Forest Service (Angeles National Forest and Los Padres National Forest) are included in the proposed boundary expansion of the SMMNRA. However, the National Park Service could partner with the Forest Service on projects, as needed, and as permitted under their current “service first authority.”  Existing land managers would continue to manage their lands, but the inclusion of those lands within the expanded boundary of the SMMNRA would allow the NPS to work with them to acquire land from willing sellers, or invest in capitol improvements for recreation or habitat improvements.

The study at this point is just a recommendation from the Secretary of the Interior to Congress. It will be up to congress to take those recommendations and act on them. Or they may not. It many be many years, if ever, before the boundaries of the SMMNRA are adjusted as recommended in the Study.

The final study report, errata from the draft study and an analysis of public comments submitted can be found at http://www.nps.gov/pwro/rimofthevalley/

President’s Message: 2015 – A Year in Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

2015 has been one of the most active in CORBA’s history. There has been so much happening in our local mountains, in our sport, in our public lands, in the political landscape, and in bicycle advocacy in general. As always, CORBA has done its best to stay on top of the issues, to be leaders in the trail community, and to have a positive impact on our trails, our public lands, our community and our sport. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening this year, showing how your membership dollars and donations are being used to benefit all mountain bikers in the Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.

Advocacy

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Much has happened this year on the mountain bike advocacy front. One of the biggest issues has been the start of the process to develop a Management Plan for our year-old San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The National Forest Foundation convened a Community Collaborative group to develop a broad base of support from a diverse range of stakeholders to help guide the Forest Service in its management of the Angeles National Forest and the SGMNM. CORBA has been involved from the start, in 2014 on the committee to establish the Collaborative, and this year as an active participant in the Collaborative. Forty-five diverse interests are represented, some of whom have traditionally found themselves at odds with our community. This has truly expanded our outreach and strengthened our place in the community.

We’re also continuing to work with Los Angeles County on several fronts: the Castaic Area Trail Master Plan, the Los Angeles County Trails Manual, the now-completed Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master plan, the LA County Park Needs assessment, the Altadena Crest Trail Restoration, the Puente Hills Landfill and bicycle access to trails in general.

This year we joined the Los Angeles Bike Park Collective. We have pending Bike Park proposals with Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, City of Glendale, and Thousand Oaks. Fillmore Bike Park opened this past Spring.

We’re closely monitoring the development of the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Master Plan, which is expected to come out in draft form in 2016. We saw the Rim of the Valley Study completed. Legislation was introduced to create a new National Recreation Area, and expand our new National Monument. We’ve worked with legislators on a pending Wilderness bill, to ensure that it has minimum impact on mountain biking. We’re continuing to work with the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society to ensure that their efforts to protect our public lands do not impact our ability to enjoy them.

This year new e-bike legislation was introduced. Early drafts could have been interpreted to allow electric mountain bikes on non-motorized trails. We worked to clarify that this does not makes e-bike legal on trails. We’ll be watching the e-bike debate closely as they become more popular.

There’s a pending application to build a hotel on the DeAnza Trailhead. CORBA took the lead on asking the City of Calabasas to do a full EIR.

Outside the area, we’re keeping an eye on wilderness proposals in the Sierra Nevada mountains and BLM land swap proposals in the San Jacinto Mountains, both with the potential to close trails to bikes.

(more…)

El Nino Watch: Trail Damage and Riding after it Rains

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

We are having a severe El Nino event this winter; as a result the weather forecast is for many heavy rainstorms in the early months of 2016. That will help our drought situation, but will have seriously bad impacts on our trails. As well as muddy conditions that interfere with their use, described  below, the rains could be severe enough to erode some trails into huge ruts, and even wash them away in some cases. There may be more mudslides in Pt Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) like we had last year. Furthermore, the rain will spur the chaparral to overgrow the trails, a condition we haven’t had to deal with much over the past couple of years because of the drought. The combination of waterlogged soil and high winds could blow trees over. We’re expecting to have special trailwork days to repair these damaged trails and hope many mountain bikers will want to help us get them back into shape!

Most trails in our local riding area don’t respond well to rain. They have a high content of clay that turns into sticky, slippery muck that binds to everything it touches. It builds up on the tires, like a snowball rolling downhill, until it jams on the frame and the wheels won’t budge. Some models of clipless pedals won’t let go when full of this mud, resulting in the bike and the attached rider lying sideways in a puddle, or worse.

Most wet trails don’t respond well to use until they’ve had time to dry out. Hikers and horses make holes and ridges in the trail that become as hard as concrete when the trail dries. These holes and ridges are good for twisting ankles.

As a rule of thumb, if your foot, tire or hoof makes an impression more than about 1/8 inch deep in the dirt, the trail is still too soft to use. Give it another day or two to dry out before using it!

On wet trails, bikes make grooves along the trail. The next time it rains, the water runs down these grooves and turns them into little ruts, then large ruts that destroy the trail.

The mud is particularly hard to remove. It sticks to the bike and shoes, no matter the efforts to remove it, rubbing off on the bike rack, car carpet and gas/brake pedals, making them slippery. Once home, it takes the careful use of a garden hose to remove the mud but not force water into the sensitive parts of the bike.

For these reasons, riders are well advised to stay off the trails after a rain until they have dried. How long to stay off? That depends on a number of factors including the particular trail, how much rain it received, how much sun it gets after the rain (is it in the shade or face south?), how warm and windy the weather is, and so on. After an isolated light rain you can probably ride the next day. After a heavy rain, you should wait several days. This is something where common sense and experience will help. Remember, tracks deeper than 1/8″ mean the trail is still too soft to use!

All is not lost when the trails are soaking! There are a few trails that hold up well when wet because they have more sand and rock that doesn’t hold the water. Here are a few you should know about:

Space Mountain (Los Robles Trail West) to the picnic table is almost always rideable, even right after a big storm. However, it can be pretty mucky from the picnic table to Potrero Road.
Rosewood Trail is pretty good, but not quite as resilient as Space Mountain.
Zuma Ridge Motorway from Encinal (the bottom in Malibu is muddy)
Dirt Mulholland around Topanga State Park.
-Brown Mountain Fireroad
-Most San Gabriel Mountains trails made up of decomposed granite
-Beaudry Fireroad
-Hostetter Fireroad
-Mt. Lukens

Castaic Multi-Use Trail Master Plan Meeting #2

Friday, September 18th, 2015

20150917001-Castaic Trail Master Plan-1Last night, September 17, 2015, LA County held the second in the series of planning meetings announced last month. Last night’s meeting was well-attended by mountain bikers, but also by local residents who are concerned about trails and fire roads through their properties at Tapia Canyon and other locations within the study area.

It was made clear at the meeting’s outset that the County trails policy is multi-use, and that nothing in this process takes away any property owners’ rights. Just because a trail is drawn somewhere on this plan doesn’t mean it will be constructed exactly where it is drawn, or that it will be constructed at all. It will guide the County’s planning efforts for future growth.

Disrespectful and illegal behavior by a small non-representative group of riders has tarnished the image of mountain bikers in the area, while at the other end of the spectrum the NICA SoCal League teams in the area have done an outstanding job of representing our sport responsibly.

About 50 people gathered around four tables packed with maps to point out where there are important existing trails, brainstorm on where they’d like to see new connections and access points, and what types of features they’d like to see at a bike skills park. Property owners pointed out where their properties are on the map, and expressed valid concerns about trails that pass through their properties.

12047030_10206819759845884_4543868626721243399_n-1Some important issues came up, such as the preservation of iconic and unique trails in the Tapia Canyon area, access to Forest Service and Tapia Canyon blocked by the Tesoro development, and potential impacts of the Hidden Ranch at Tapia Canyon Development. It is these and other development proposals that have prompted the County to take on this important planning task. There are more people coming to the Castaic area, more homes, more business, more kids on bikes and more demand for recreational trails.

For example, there’s strong demand for a regional-quality bike park facility at Grasshopper Canyon in the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, as proposed by CORBA some time ago. We’d like to go big, including tot, beginner, intermediate and advanced pump tracks, progressive dirt jumps, a downhill flow trail, a permanent cyclocross/XC  training and racing track, dual slalom tracks, four-cross course, progressive dirt jumps and skills areas. We’d also like to see smaller community pump tracks at easily-accessible locations through the area.

Among the other items being discussed were:

  • A long-distance, multi-use trail around Castaic Lake including access to secluded bays and beaches.
  • Trail connections from the Sports Complex to Castaic Lake SRA and to Charlie and Wayside canyons.
  • Easier access to Tapia Canyon trails through the Tesoro development
  • Continued access to Tapia via Wayside/Junkyard through the Hidden Ranch at Tapia development.
  • Connections to Forest Service trails and fire roads
  • Connections to Ventura County and Los Padres NF trails
  • Preservation of iconic and unique Tapia trails such as Dog Tag, G-Out and others.

What else would you like to add? You can still let them know.

Make Your Comments Online at http://castaicmultiusetrails.org

The County understands that many people are unable to attend public meetings, or need more than just a meeting to consider their needs. An online Interactive Map allows members of the public to draw in where they’d like to see trails, bike park facilities or trailhead facilities such as parking, bathrooms and water fountains. This new planning tool also allows the public to upload gps tracks of existing trails. However, the interactivity goes both ways, once something is added to the map it becomes part of the public record that others can see an comment on. There are two more meetings scheduled, aimed at the hiking and equestrian communities respectively, though all meetings are open to all members of the public.

If trails and bike parks around Castaic and Santa Clarita Valley are important to you, visit http://castaicmultiusetrails.org to see what others are asking for and share your own thoughts with the County and planning consultants.

Castaic Area Trail Master Plan Public Meetings

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Castaic Trail PlanWith proposed developments at Tapia Canyon and our pending proposal for a bike park at Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, there are some changes coming to trails and bike access in the Castaic Area. We’ve long known that the trails of Tapia Canyon, in particular, would be at risk once the developers move forward with their construction plans. We’ve had several meetings with the developers who seem willing to work with us to preserve some trails in the area.

In response to the public’s need for future planning, 5th District Supervisor Michael Antonovich has authorized the development of the Castaic Area Multi-Use Trail Plan.  The County will survey existing trails, proposed developments, desired trail connections, and gauge future trail needs to support a growing population. This will be a similar process to the Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master Plan, a process in which we participated from April 2012 until it’s completion last year.

The first general public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 20th at 6:30 p.m., at the Los Angeles County Castaic Public Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, Val Verde, CA 91384.  This meeting will be followed by three user-group specific meetings for mountain bikers, equestrians, and hikers. Currently the mountain bikers’ meeting conflicts with Interbike, so we have asked if that can be rescheduled.

Last year CORBA submitted a comprehensive Bike Park proposal for the Grasshopper Canyon area of Castaic Lake State Recreation Area which we would like to see included in this planning process.

If you’re able to, come to this meeting and express your support for our bike park proposal, for preserving existing multi-use trails, and for creating new trail opportunities, such as the conceptual “Castaic Loop Trail.”

Read the County’s Fact Sheet for more details: Castaic Area Multi-Use Trails Plan Factsheet

 

Castaic Area Trail Master Plan General Meeting

When: Thursday, August 20th at 6:30 p.m.,

Where: Los Angeles County Castaic Public Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, Val Verde, CA 91384

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Castaic Area Trail Master Plan Mountain Bikers Meeting

When: Thursday, September 17th at 6:30 p.m.,

Where: Los Angeles County Castaic Public Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, Val Verde, CA 91384

Bike Thefts On The Rise–Again

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Evidently there has been a rash of bicycle thefts that have hit several CORBA members within the last month. While it is not known if the perpetrators are part of an organized ring, LAPD officer John “Rusty” Redican thinks it sounds a lot like a gang that was operating out of South Los Angels a few years ago. Click here for the link to MTBR to view his post and see photos of the thieves that were arrested a few years back. Below is the text of his post:

Hello All, My name is John (Rusty) Redican, I’m a fellow cyclist and LAPDOfficer. This reminder is not an official LAPD news blast, but me as a fellow cyclist and community member arming you with a little information to keep you and your property safe. Due to another salient event, where a fellow cyclist had his bicycles stolen out of his garage.

I need to advise you all about a ring of high end bicycle thieves that we (LAPDWest LA Division) arrested a couple years back, who may or may not be at it again. That arrest was only made possible due to cooperation between the cycling community and the police. First off, be very cautious on what you post on social media, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Strava and similar forms of tracking and communication we all use for our shared love of cycling.

A few years back, this ring of bike thieves, based out of south Los Angeles, were responsible for millions of dollars of bicycle thefts, from San Diego County to Ventura County. They would follow cyclists home from group rides, scour FaceBook and other social media for intel on cyclists and their homes, so they could conduct surveillance on you and break into your garage or storage areas to steal your bicycles. They would do this during the day mostly when no one was home, but also at night while you slept. At times they would cause damage to the garage, but most times they were very surreptitious about it and the only evidence left, was the absence of your property. The majority of the bikes they targeted were well worth (as you all know) the chance for them to get caught by the home owner. At the time, they used a very clean and newer model silver, 4 door Audi sedan with bike racks on it. The suspects in the cases I’m referring too were all male hispanics in their mid to lat 20’s – early thirties, between 5’6” and 5’9”, 175 lbs to 220 lbs, not climbers. Again, I’m not saying this is definitely them, but the MO used in the theft of bikes from one of our fellow cyclists in Torrence, last week is very similar.

So be advised and be cautious of what you put on social media, NEVER have the starting point to your ride be your residence, and be cautious on who you share your photos and information with. Also, you don’t have to be paranoid, but be aware of your surroundings and if you notice a vehicle following you, or the same vehicle in 3 different locations, that may be a clue, and take not of the lic plate number, or any other distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle and occupant(s). Criminals are not dumb, and have evolved with the technology, so a little operational security will help you keep your property that you love, and work hard to obtain. If you see anything suspicious please be a good witness, don’t physically get involved, as you never know what these criminals are armed with, but immediately call your local police department.

Anyway, I put this info out not to alarm, but to inform, for-warned is for-armed. Please share with your cycling teams and groups, or any cycling friends who may benefit from this information.

These are the suspects from 2012. This photo is from CBS Los Angeles. They were apparently seen today in Corona at Corona High checking out the mountain bike teams bikes and asking questions… They are now driving a black newer model Honda Accord….FYI…

 

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!

 

Rim of the Valley Corridor Study

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

ROTValternativeDCORBA has been involved in the Rim of the Valley Corridor since our inception. In fact, we’re so ingrained in the process that the Rim of the Valley Corridor is mentioned in our mission statement as our primary territory of concern. We were excited to see the draft study released, and have submitted comments on the plan.

The study sought to answer the following:

1. Does the area possess nationally significant natural or cultural resources?
2. Is it a suitable and unique addition to the National Park System?
3. Can it be feasibly added to the Park System?
4. Does it require direct NPS management, instead of stewardship from other groups or a public-private combination?

The answer to all of the above questions was a “yes.” The National Park Service presented four alternatives based on the study findings. The first NEPA-required “no action” alternatives serves as a baseline against which we can compare the alternatives. Alternative B allows the NPS to offer “technical assistance” to existing land managers within the study area, but falls short of allowing the NPS to make any direct capitol investments.

Alternatives C and D expand the authorized boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. What the boundary expansions really mean is that the National Park Service will be authorized to offer technical assistance to existing land managers for any project that enhances recreation, or restores habitat and connectivity. Under Alternative C or D, the NPS is also authorized to spend money on capitol projects within the expanded boundaries.

We believe that the largest operational boundary proposed under Alternative D would have the greatest long-term benefit for recreation, bio-connectivity, wildlife and the communities adjacent to the study area. It also includes the wildlife corridors linking the two areas of the Angeles National Forest separated by Highway 14, as well as between the Santa Susana Mountains and Los Padres National Forests.

The boundary expansion does not come without concern. The NPS, like most public land agencies, is currently under-funded. We would hope that any boundary expansion would come with an increase in funding sufficient to at least maintain the current level of service across the expanded NRA.

During the course of the public meetings we heard a lot of misinformation and a misunderstanding of what the boundary expansions mean. The Federal government will not be taking anyone’s property against their will. Existing land ownership rights and management authority is respected and maintained.

One thing that would change is the permitting of landfills. In our comments, we asked for the existing landfills to be excluded from the proposed NRA expansion to eliminate the need for additional permitting. We also feel that the recently completed San Gabriel Watershed and Special Resource Study which proposed a San Gabriel Unit of the NRA, must be considered and its findings also addressed by any congressional action to the effect of either.

The Rim of the Valley trail system is also important to us. It’s a proposed multi-use trail network that will encircle the San Fernando Valley, and perhaps Simi and Conejo Valleys. We feel the National Park Service will be in a good position to help facilitate its completion under Alternatives C or D.

It will probably be another year before we see a final recommendation from the study. From there it will be up to Congress to decide what to do with the recommendations.

2015-06-24 – Rim of the Valley Draft Study Comments from CORBA

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