Archive for the ‘Santa Clarita Valley’ Category

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.

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Castaic Trails and Puente Hills Park Plans Approved

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Park and Rec Staff give their report

Park and Rec Staff give their report

October 25, 2016 was a great day for trails, open space and bike parks in Los Angeles County.  Some time ago, we learned that the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan would be on today’s County Board of Supervisors agenda.  Last week, we were notified that the Castaic Multiuse Trail Master Plan would be on the same agenda.

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Kevin from SCV Trail Users speaks to support the Castaic plan.

Both these plans include Bike Skills Parks, as proposed by CORBA to the County in 2011.  It’s been a long process with much input from local residents, trail users, mountain bikers and environmental and social justice organizations. With these bike skills parks appearing on their respective master plans, which will be incorporated into the County General Plan, we have confirmed a future Los Angeles that will include bike skills parks.

The Puente Hills plan includes two bike skills area, one in Phase One, and a second in Phase two. The Castaic plan identifies three potential bike skills park sites. The plans do not include specific bike park designs. These designs will take some time, and much community involvement. The onus will be on us, the mountain biking community, to follow through and remain engaged in the design process, and ultimately, to help raise funds and build these facilities.

These planning documents are intended to guide long-term development over multiple decades, as funding and other opportunities become available. Fully realized, they will provide many miles of multi-use trails, trailhead staging areas, and other amenities. The Puente Hills plan includes multiple recreational amenities, including public performance spaces, a zip line, bike skills park, dog park, and balances that with habitat restoration and native landscaping. There is something for everyone.

Four of us spoke in favor of the Castaic plan, including CORBA, the SoCal High School Cycling League and SCV Trail Users, while one local resident expressed concerns that a proposed trail in the plan traverses her property. Supvervisor Antonovich asked the park planning staff how the plan addresses and protects private property rights and received assurances that easements or property acquisitions will only take place from willing sellers.

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Over 30 people came to speak on the Puente Hills plan, rallied by our friends at Bike SGV, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and CORBA.  It was obvious to the County that there is tremendous community support for the plan, so it wasn’t necessary for all 30 to speak. Wes Reutman from Bike SGV, spoke on behalf of the group.  Support also came from the Wilderness Society and the Trust for Public Land.

We want to express our sincere thanks to both the County Department of Parks and Recreation, and the County Supervisors for supporting the development of these plans.  We also extend our appreciation to Alta Planning for their great work on engaging the Santa Clarita Valley community in the development of the Castaic Plan, and Withers & Sandgren Landscape Architecture firm who were enlisted as the prime consultant on the Puente Hills plan. Both the Castaic and Puente Hills planning processes typified the type of extensive community outreach and engagement that are necessary to develop viable community-driven plans that reflect the desires and address the concerns of the community and trail and park users.

Of special note is the long-standing support for trails and open spaces exhibited by Supervisor Antonovich, who will term out at the end of this year. His legacy includes the Santa Susana Trails Master Plan, and the Castaic Multiuse Trail Master Plan. As an equestrian and a champion of multi-use trails, Supervisor Antonovich has arguable had a greater impact on trails in Los Angeles County than any other single elected official in the area. In fact, 30 years ago, I served as assistant race director of the Olive View Challenge, a running, cycling, mountain biking and BMX event raising funds for Olive View hospital. Supervisor Antonovich was an ardent supporter of our nacent mountain biking race then (the first ever sanctioned mountain bike race on County and National Forest lands). He’s been a champion of trails since, and throughout his career in County government.

While a great step forward, there is still a lot of work to be done before we’ll be shaping dirt into pump tracks, jumps, and skills features at either Castaic or Puente Hills. We hope to begin the design phase for Castaic as early as next year. Puente Hills needs a few more years for the landfill to settle, and phase one will likely begin in late 2017 through 2019.

Sand Fire Closure Revised in the Angeles National Forest

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

On October 17, 2016, the Forest Service revised the Sand Fire Closure order.  The order was drawn up while the fire was still burning. It included many areas that did not burn. Now that the fire has been fully contained for several weeks The Forest Service has reduced the closure area, reopening many areas and trails that were not burned, but were in the initial closure.

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Newly re-opened trails include:

  • the Santa Clara Truck Trail (AKA the Beast) (4N17), from Newhall Road to the top of Wilson Canyon,
  • Wilson Canyon (3N56)
  • May Canyon (3N54)
  • Viper
  • Oak Springs Trail (14W10)
  • all trails south of Mendenhall Ridge, including Condor Peak and Trail Canyon,
  • all trails east of Moody Canyon, Lightning Point and Mt. Gleason.

Closed trails include (but are not limited to):

  • Los Pinetos Trail,
  • Santa Clara Truck Trail (4N17) from Wilson Saddle to Mt. Gleason,
  • Mendenhall Ridge (3N32),
  • Powerline  (AKA Burma Road) (3N37),
  • Pacoima Canyon Trail,
  • Moody Canyon (4N33),
  • Indian Canyon (4N37),
  • Pacific Crest Trail from Mt. Gleason to Indian Canyon,
  • Dagger Flat Trail.

Little Tujunga Canyon road remains closed from Santa Clara Truck Trail (Bear Divide) to 1.5 miles north of Gold Creek Road.

The closure is needed for public safety and resource protection. The burnt areas could be subject to flash flooding, debris flows, and landslides during the coming winter rains, posing a danger to public safety. Burned areas are also much more sensitive, and can easily be damaged by going off trail.

For more information on how fires impact trails, see the interview with CORBA’s Steve Messer in Trails After the Wildfire, Mountain Bike Action.

 

County Supervisors to vote on the Castaic Trail Master Plan

Friday, October 14th, 2016

On October 25, 2016, the same day that the County Supervisors will vote on the Puente Hills Landfill Park master plan, they will also be voting on the Castaic Area Multiuse Trail Master Plan.  The plan and environmental documents can be viewed at http://castaicmultiusetrails.org.

 

The Castaic Area Multiuse Trail Master Plan has been developed over the past eighteen months, as concerns over trails impacted by housing developments in the Castaic Area was growing. The Tapia Canyon area, future home to a 276 home residential development, has a network of user-created trails on private property that have served as a mountain biking destination for the local community for many years.

The developer reached out to the trail user community. The trail user community in turn reached out to Los Angeles County. With support from Supervisor Antonovich, the County Parks and Recreation division was tasked with developing a trail master plan for the Castaic Area. The objective was to develop a plan that would guide future trail development, and provide a framework for future planning.

CORBA also took this opportunity to move forward our 2010 LA County Bike Park proposal, and feedback was gathered through this process on where a Bike Skills Park might be located in the Castaic area. Three potential bike park locations have been identified in the plan.

The plan also lays out the framework for improving connectivity to and between existing trail networks, parking and trailhead infrastructure for equestrians, and for other users. The County held a series of user group specific meetings at which the public was invited to draw on maps where trails should be, where they are now but aren’t shown, and what facilities or improvements may be needed to bring unofficial trails into the County trail system.

On October 25, 2016, the County Board of Supervisors will vote on the plan. If approved the plan will be incorporated into the Los Angeles County General Plan. It doesn’t mean that the bike park and proposed new trails will be built. If funding or development opportunities arise, the plan will help guide investments in trails and bike parks.

CORBA will be there to speak in support of this plan and the Puente Hills Landfill Park master plan, and to further advocate for the construction of bike skills parks at both locations.  We are building momentum in bringing Bike Parks to Los Angeles, but without community support, they won’t happen. Now it’s up to us to urge our elected officials to support the trail master plan and bike park components. Here’s how to help:

JOIN US at the Board meeting, 9:30 am, Tuesday October 25, at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, Room 381B, 500 W Temple Street, Los Angeles.  You can comment on the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan, and the Castaic Trail Master Plan, both of which include bike skills parks.

Email your County Supervisor! Let them know you support a multi-use Puente Hills park that provides a diverse array of recreational opportunities including multi-use trails and a bike park.

 

Supervisor Solis: firstdistrict@bos.lacounty.gov ;

Supervisor Anontovich: fifthdistrict@lacbos.org ;

Supervisor Knabe: AValenzuela@lacbos.org

 

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.

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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.