Sequioa, Inyo and Sierra Forest Plans Hinder Sharing the PCT Campaign

October 2nd, 2014

 

Access to many trails could be affected by new Wilderness

Access to many trails could be affected by new Wilderness

The three major National Forests of the Southern Sierras are currently in the process of updating their Forest Management Plans. They are developing their plans under the guidelines of the new 2012 planning process. As they are among the first forests to do so, they are being referred to as “early-adopters” of the new planning process.

Part of the 2012 planning process requires the forests to evaluate areas of the forest they may be suitable for addition into the Wilderness Protection System. Currently, a large proportion of all three of these forests are designated Wilderness and are off-limits to bicycles. Many people heeding the environmentalists calls for wilderness at any cost, don’t realize that this greatly impacts recreational access. We are objecting to any new wilderness areas in these plans.

Another aspect of the plan calls for the designation of a Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Corridor. The provisions prohibit any trail that allows bicycles or motorcycles to even CROSS the PCT, and gives the Pacific Crest Trail Association veto power over any trails that lie within that corridor, even if they are not the PCT. This is extremely troublesome, and may even be illegal.

As you may be aware, a group of people have been actively urging the forest service to review the order that closed the PCT to bicycles in 1988. The decision to close the PCT was never publicly reviewed, as required by the forest service own management guidelines and public law. Portions of this plan would circumvent that legally required public process, and making the ban on bicycles permanent. In the opinion of many, the current ban on bicycles was enacted in the same way a temporary order would be enacted, and is required to be reviewed regularly.

CORBA submitted the following comments on the plans, as this affects not only the PCT where it passes through the Sierras, but also has ramifications for our local portions of the PCT in the Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests. The comment period originally expired Monday, after only 30 days with a very poor public outreach effort. Comments are now being accepted an additional three days, ending tomorrow, October 3rd, 2014. Until then you still have a chance to submit comments here.

IMBA’s suggested talking points include:

  • The plan should include a trail planning Objective that will allow for a purposefully designed trail system, including bicycles.
  • Object to management that furthers the bicycle closure order on the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • Object to the delegation of any inherently governmental decision making authority to the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
  • Mountain bikers can be a huge asset to the PCT—we contribute 700,000 volunteer hours annually to trail stewardship.

For more information and suggestions on what to write in your comments, visit the following:

 

 

San Gabriels National Monument Update

September 25th, 2014

2014-0925-Pasadena_Star_NewsOn Thursday, September 25, 2014, an article appeared in the Pasadena Star News and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune about the growing support for a National Monument designation for our local San Gabriel Mountains. The story fails to mention any opposition to the proposal, which is also growing. In it, the author states that:

“Chu has met with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association and the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association since members of the group attended a town hall Aug. 26 in Baldwin Park. 

“The cyclists’ concerns about a national monument were addressed when it was explained that mountain biking is very compatible with a national monument designation,” Chu said in a statement.”

This is not exactly correct. Chu has not yet met with us, though we would welcome and look forward to such a meeting. However, staff members of IMBA, our parent organization, did meet with her staff in Washington DC and receive those assurances. We have learned from several different sources that recreational uses of the forest, including mountain biking, would continue unaffected under a new designation. In fact, we’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks as we work with supporters of the monument proposal.

We have been working with IMBA, MWBA, San Gabriel Mountains Forever, the Conservation Land Trust and the Wilderness Society to prepare a set of FAQ’s to answer some of the many questions surrounding this proposal. We are also working on on a joint statement from all these groups expressing our conditional support for a monument that ensures our continued access to trails by bicycle, and other recreational uses.

Look for those FAQ’s here on our web site in the coming days.

 

 

August Skills Clinic photos published Tuesday, September 9

September 9th, 2014

There was no dedicated photographer available for the August Skills Clinic in Malibu Creek State Park so Mark took some himself whenever he could. That ended up being just for the rocky stream crossing. You can see the photos in the August 2014 photo gallery.

September Skills Clinic photos published Saturday, September 6

September 6th, 2014

Fifteen riders took part in the September 2014 Skills Clinic at Malibu Creek State Park on a sunny and very warm day. CORBA’s president, Steve Messer, stopped by to watch. You can see the September photos in the September 2014 photo gallery.

September eTerraTimes Newsletter Published September 4

September 4th, 2014

The September edition of CORBA’s monthly newsletter, the eTerraTimes, was published today, September 4th. If you don’t get it by email, you can view it online.

As always, the eTerraTimes has all the latest news for mountain bikers in the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas.

President’s Message: A National Monument?

September 3rd, 2014
Recently created Fort Ord National Monument ensures continued bicycle access

Recently created Fort Ord National Monument ensures continued bicycle access

Just two weeks ago the public learned of a movement to have the San Gabriel Mountains declared a National Monument. The news came as a surprise, and we had little time to look deeper into what this meant. Last week’s public meeting did serve one purpose well, to get the discussion–and the emotions–going. The sudden announcement caught everyone’s attention, all the way up to the Undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture. This meant that it was happening quickly, and the process was already underway. It’s in all our best interest to be a part of that process, whether or not the final outcome is a new National Monument.

Since last week’s public meeting, we’ve had time to begin a dialog with conservationists and other stakeholders and to do some research of our own. We now understand the Forest Service would continue to manage the land under a National Monument designation. We learned that recently declared For Ord National Monument has language specifically mentioning bicyclists as legitimate trail users, and directs that bicycles are accommodated in a transportation/trail plan. This is an extremely positive precedent which encourages us. We’ve had several verbal assurances that mountain biking access would not be impacted, and that similar language could be developed for this proposal.

As we begin to be involved in the development of that language, we are working with our fellow chapters, IMBA staff, and other stakeholders to ensure our continued ability to ride mountain bikes on the trails and fire roads we love, and to improve overall conditions in the forest (through better protections and additional funding). A well-written National Monument proclamation and any additional funding it brings may be preferable to the Angeles NF continuing to be underfunded and understaffed, or even a wilderness bill that would close off access to trails.

There are many competing interests for National Forest land. There are those interested in protecting it, developing it, and just recreating in it. The challenge will be to get the balance between those interests right. If a National Monument proclamation does move forward, as it appears to be, we need to be involved in its development and included in the outcome.

In the meantime remember to make time to ride. Every time we do so we remind ourselves why our local mountains are important to us. They’re important enough to protect, and important enough to want to ensure that our grandkids can enjoy similar trail experiences, and similar ways to connect with nature.

Join our Ride and Mingle (RAM)/Pancake Breakfast September 28th

September 2nd, 2014

Come join us for a RAM (Ride and Mingle) morning! Ride beautiful Sycamore Canyon in Pt. Mugu State Park with your buddies, or join one of the guided beginner, intermediate or advanced rides.

PancakesThen pop over to Michael’s Bicycles in Newbury Park at 10:30am for pancakes!

Please sign up in advance so we’ll know how much batter to have on hand for hungry riders!

You can sign up on the CORBA Meetup page or the CORBA Face Book page.

Suggested donation for the Pancake breakfast is $10.

Please support your local community of mountain bikers by supporting CORBA: http://www.corbamtb.com/join/

Directions to the trail head in Newbury Park: Take the 101 Freeway to the Wendy exit in Newbury Park. At the end of the off-ramp proceed south on Wendy until it dead-ends at Potrero Road. Park in the adjacent dirt parking area.

COSCA Annual Trailwork Day Oct 18th

September 1st, 2014

Come out and join the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), CORBA, the Santa Monica Trails Council and other volunteers for the 24th Annual COSCA Trailwork Day in Thousand Oaks on October 18, 2014. The trail we will be building/repairing will be announced soon.

COSCA will treat participants to lunch afterwards and have a drawing for some great door prizes. Participants who register with our Meetup event will also be eligible for the end-of-year drawing for a Niner frame and other prizes!

For full details and to register, see our registration page. We hope to see a good turnout of local mountain bikers at this event!

Girlz Gone Riding news for September

September 1st, 2014

GGR Logo

GGR’s Rocktober XC Gala Registration is UP! We are almost at our cut off of 150 riders!

For event info & registration: http://www.girlzgoneriding.com/rocktober-2014.html October 19th at Malibu Creek State Park. 8am-4pm. This is a FREE event for all GGR members

  • Registration is cut off at 150 women so sign up now!
  • Women’s Specific Demo bikes!
  • Beginner skills clinics
  • Guided rides
  • Guest speakers
  • Raffles, silent auctions, good bags and more

Rocktober

A Celebration of Women on the Mountain Weekend!

We had 59 women show up for this Big Bear weekend! All levels were riding the mountain both XC and DH. There were guided rides, Enduro practice, a speed meet & greet, group dinner and contests. For pictures and complete blog, go here: http://www.girlzgoneriding.com/blog/a-celebration-of-women-on-the-mountain-event

Interbike!

September 8th-12th in Las Vegas! The biggest industry bike event! New products, outdoor demos, networking, a cross race, everything you can imagine relative to the cycling industry! Wanna meet with GGR & get involved in the women’s mountain bike community? Looking to sponsor a PRO ENDURO FEMALE RIDER? Then contact Wendy Engelberg, GGR Director to set up an appointment or ride at Interbike! wendy@girlzgoneriding.com
http://www.interbike.com/

Pancakes

CORBA RAM Ride (ride & mingle) and Pancake Breakfast! September 28th: 7:00am. This is a CO-ED ride & event.

Come join us for a RAM (Ride and Mingle) morning! Ride beautiful Sycamore Canyon in Newbury Park with your buddies or join one of the guided rides. Then pop over to Michael’s Bicycles in Newbury Park at 10:30am for a pancakes! You can sign up on the CORBA Meet up page here: http://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/203784752/ or the CORBA Face Book page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1437487449840832/. Suggested donation for the Pancake breakfast is $10. Please support your local community of mountain bikers by supporting CORBA: http://www.corbamtb.com/join/

Skills Clinics!

You wanted clinics! You got em! October 11th and 12th Intermediate Skills clinics given by Leigh Donovan at Mt Pino’s are SOLD OUT! Want more clinics? Keep your eyes peeled, they are coming!

Skills

Save the Dates!

September 28th: CORBA RAM (Ride & Mingle) and Pancake breakfast. Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1437487449840832/

October 19th: GGR Presents Rocktober XC Gala! Registration is required: http://www.girlzgoneriding.com/rocktober-2014.html

November 16th: Wenches with Wrenches at Michael’s Bikes in Newbury Park: Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/714888711867255/

December 20th: GGR Holiday Ride & Lunch! Juliana Bikes will have their demo truck there for us! Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/248744028643192/

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

August 27th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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