Archive for the ‘Verdugo Mountains’ Category

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

Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Released

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online/Virtual Public Meeting:

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

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

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

Local Public Meetings Schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

What 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.

 

Glendale’s Newest Trail’s are Complete

Monday, May 6th, 2013
Glendale's new Catalina Verdugo Trail

Glendale’s new Catalina Verdugo Trail

When the City of Glendale updated its Trail Master Plan for the City’s open spaces in 2007 and 2008, CORBA volunteers worked closely with City staff to map out existing trails and to identify where new trails would make the most sense. The first two of those new trails have  just been completed.

The Catalina Verdugo Trail loops around the Glendale Sports Complex at the end of  The northern trailhead is next to the Maintenance yard facility. The Southern end of the trail is behind the soccer fields, and comprises a series of switchbacks. Glendale has many difficult and steep trails like those at Brand and Deukmejian Parks, so City officials wanted this to be an easy trail for all levels of trail users to enjoy. The trail is open to hikers and mountain bikes only. The trail joins an existing fire road, from which there is access to Ridge Motorway, a lightly used fire road in the San Rafael hills.  From there it is possible to ride or hike all the way to the trail system at Cherry Canyon.

As with all newly constructed or recently re-built trails, it currently looks quite wide and raw. Over the coming months as the trail beds in it will naturally narrow down and brush will grow in along the trail.  It will be a beautiful, meandering trail through the Chaparral.  There is some steep slopeside exposure in a few sections, but overall it is a non-technical trail suitable for fit beginners and more experienced riders alike. Watch for poison oak along the trail, mostly on the north-facing slopes.

Mountain Do Trail exercise station photo by Robin McGuire

Mountain Do Trail exercise station

The second trail, and also a part of the Sports Complex trails,  is called the Mountain Do Trail. This is a wheelchair accessible, natural surface path, complete with a range of outdoor exercise stations, benches and tables. The Mountain Do Trail wraps around the soccer fields at the Southern end of the Sports Complex. Within the next month, signs and  interpetive panels with information on Flora, Fauna and local history will be added to both trails, making them a great educational resource as well. The Sports Complex is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm and the gates are locked, so access to the trail is restricted outside those times.

The City is planning a formal opening ceremony on June 1st, National Trails Day, but the trails are now ready for use. These trails were expertly designed and constructed by Bellfree Contractors, in accordance with the City of Glendale Trails Master plan. For more information, a map and more photos visit BellFree Contractors’ web site.

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.

Randy Rogers Had it Right

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By Mark Langton

IMG_23141When I first met North Ranch Mountain Bike Club (nrmbc.org) founder Randy Rogers, he told me of his simple concept when encountering others on the trail. “You should slow down enough to have a brief conversation with them. Like, ‘How are you? Have a nice day.’” I told him I thought that this was overly courteous, and if you simply slowed down and said “hi” as you passed, it would be sufficient.

Now, 20 or so years later, I have to admit that Randy was right. Because in having that brief conversation, you not only slow down, you also show care and concern for the other trail user. And if we want to promote a backcountry that is harmonious and safe, then we all must act as if we are a family. Sure, like most families we may have our differences, but in the end our goal should be to care for, and be kind to, each other. After all, we’re out on the trails for the same reasons; to enjoy nature and to renew our spirit.

I challenge you to try this simple, easy experiment: When safely passing someone, including other cyclists, slow down to the point you’re almost going their speed (or stop if necessary), and ask “how are you doing?” (or the abbreviation “howdy!”). Pause just long enough to let them reply. If they don’t, at least you initiated the pleasantry. If they do reply, recognize the feeling you get from the exchange. They feel comforted and cared for, and you have done something nice. If that’s not a win/win, I don’t know what is. And at the risk of sounding cliché, you are paying good karma forward, which in most cases is contagious. And please drop me an email at mark@corbamtb.com or post a reply and let me know how it goes when you try this experiment. I’d really like to hear your experiences. Thanks!

(By the way, if you’re already using this method of trail courtesy, Thank You!)

Be The Solution

Monday, December 10th, 2012

By Mark Langton

I agree with hikers. I agree that when a mountain biker goes by me too close and too fast, it’s scary and unsettling. And they don’t have to be going fast, just too fast for the conditions. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a fire road, no problem. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a singletrack trail less than six inches from me, then I have a bit of a problem.

I agree with hikers right up to the point when they say all mountain bikers should be banned from trails because some of them go too fast around other users. You can’t tell me I’m banned from the trails because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with going fast, as long as it’s being done safely (and within reason). If mountain bikers go so fast as to create a danger to themselves–such as crashing and having to utilize tax payer money to get medical treatment and evacuation from the backcountry–then people could point at the mountain bike community as creating an undue burden on the resource management agency. But as we’ve seen, crashes of this nature are relatively few. But the agency still takes notice when there’s an increase.

I know there are those out there, myself included, who are angry at the people who disregard common sense and speed past others with no regard for common courtesy. They’ve replied many times to our blog posts. They are angry because they know that the people who are acting irresponsibly know they are doing it, but continue to do it anyway in spite of the fact they are giving the mountain biking community a bad name; when all they have to do is very simple. Be The Solution. Just slow down around others.

As an experiment today I stopped in the middle of a singletrack trail as a rider approached me coming downhill. Although he had plenty of room to see me, he ran into me, and nearly flew over the handlebar. He was apologetic, and the conversation we had was enlightening; because he was used to others getting out of his way, he just assumed I would, too.  I recounted an instance when I was riding along a trail and I came upon a hiker with her head down, and as I slowed to a stop she looked up, startled, and nearly fell over backward. Had I assumed she heard me and was going to get out of my way, I probably would have run into her.

It’s never going to be completely safe on the trails. There are always going to be accidents, but by slowing down around others (and maybe even slowing down for blind corners), we might be able to avoid a lot of very avoidable ones.