LA County’s Prop P (for Parks) on November Ballot

October 14th, 2014

imgresIn 1992, LA County voters approved the Safe Neighborhood Parks measure which has since provided approximately $54 million a year for more than 1500 projects including 33,000 acres of protected open space and 244 trail projects. The program funded a variety of significant park projects and over the years employed 25,000 youth in park programming.

This 1992 measure is about to expire and this November voters will have the chance to vote for Prop P, its replacement. If passed, Prop P will allocate funds across Los Angeles County for parks in disadvantaged communities, neighborhood parks, clean beaches and water, regional open space including trails, non-profit and public agency projects and park maintenance.

Los Angeles County has been a good partner for the mountain biking community. Their trails policy clearly states that County trails, wherever feasible, should be multiple use including bicycles. We applaud them for this policy, and are actively working with the County on several projects, including a bike park proposal.

CORBA urges our members and readers to become informed on Prop P, and consider the effects it will have on the trails and open spaces you ride, as well as future opportunities for parks and trails. Further information is available at: osd.lacounty.gov

Presidential Proclamation: Establishing the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

October 13th, 2014
President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation

In what seems to be lightning speed, last Friday, October 10, 2014, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation – Establishment of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The ceremony was held at Bonelli Regional Park, with the San Gabriel Mountains themselves providing a dramatic backdrop for the event. We understand proclamation delivers much of what we expected, with no unexpected surprises. We expect to be pleased by it’s language and intent, and still amazed at how quickly it all happened. Once the final proclamation is posted, we’ll update accordingly.

Though the last two months have seemed quick from our perspective, the effort to bring additional resources and protection to the San Gabriel Mountains has been underway for more than a decade. Since Hilda Solis introduced the legislation to study the San Gabriel Mountains and Watershed in 2002, the area has been the subject of highly organized and focused advocacy efforts from a diverse range of environmental and social groups. Today was a great milestone and achievement not just for those groups, but for all of us who value the forest, its resources, and the opportunities it provides.

Judy Chu thanks the coalition of supporters

Judy Chu thanks the dignitaries and coalition of supporters

We’re especially pleased to see the prominence of recreation in all the later announcements, and the implicit acknowledgement that bicycles and other recreational uses are welcomed and appropriate. We’d like to think it was no accident that the Whitehouse blog post about the signing features a mountain biker as the first picture. We understand the proclamation further protects the mountains, but also protects our access and ability to recreate in them. Its potential to bolster the quality and continuity of our water supply can’t be understated. These mountains are the lungs of the city, the place to go for cleaner air and a clearer mind and a healthier body. And they’ll continue to be so.

There are still many opposed to the National Monument proclamation. The public relations outreach effort was botched from the start, and felt like an afterthought to something that was already well underway. The movement’s momentum was evident even at that poorly executed initial public announcement on August 26, 2014. There had been no public involvement in the process, and that initial announcement was just that, an announcement, not a true public participation event. It was for that reason we thought it best to approach and work with the proponents of the NM, and help make sure that recreational users and conservationists were heard and considered.

By being involved and reaching out early on, engaging with San Gabriel Mountains Forever and their partners, we’re in a better position going forward. The ability to present a unified position from multiple organizations advocating for both recreation and conservation will help these treasured lands meet the needs of everyone. It will help protect where we play.

The previously posted National Monument FAQ’s were developed as a joint project with MWBA, SGMF and much appreciated guidance and expertise from IMBA and The Wilderness Society at the national level. Those FAQ’s all still apply, and we’ll work with those same groups when the management planning process begins. We’ll continue to represent bicyclists’ interests in an advisory role that will help guide the Monument’s management plan development. Read the rest of this entry »

Conditional Support of a San Gabriel National Monument

October 8th, 2014
Condor Peak Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains, still threatened by wilderness proposals

Condor Peak Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains

As previously reported, CORBA has been working with several other groups to get assurances that our needs will be met when and if the San Gabriels are declared a National Monument. As we’ve received answers to many of those questions, the answers have been compiled into a set of frequently asked questions, or “FAQ’s” about the National Monument.

We’ve also seen correspondence from members of congress that support our position for continued bicycle access, along with all other forms of recreation currently allowed in the Angeles National Forest. We’re confident that under a National Monument, we’ll be able to continue riding the trails and volunteering to maintain them as we do now. This is a vision for the San Gabriel Mountains that we can support.

That said, we must say that our support is tentative, and conditional on the final language of the proclamation and its accompanying preamble reflecting these recreational goals and ideals. We have not yet seen that final language, nor received any direct confirmation of the contents of the proclamation. While verbal assurances are helpful, until it is finalized and in writing, we feel it’s too early to proclaim our outright support. We have co-authored a letter that outlines a vision of a National Monument that we can and will support. We’re hopeful that letter has been given due consideration.

Today the Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece that closely reflects our position. They support the designation, but do so with skepticism of the proponents’ claims that this will make all the trash, graffiti, and lack of maintenance go away. The only thing that will make these things go away is funding for the additional staff, rangers, education, law enforcement, and maintenance crews needed to manage the forest. While a National Monument greatly increases the opportunities for more funding and staff, it comes with no outright guarantee.

2014-10-07 - Joint-SGMNM-FAQ_01News has just been released that President Obama may declare the National Monument as soon as this Friday, two days from now. For us and many others, this is a far too hasty response. If the proclamation is as we have been led to expect–acknowledging the value and importance of continued recreational access including bicycles–then we should have no problem. But we fail to see the need to push this through less than two months after the public learned of this proposal, and six weeks after the one and only “public meeting” (in which the public were not able to speak). At that meeting, even members of the invited panel of speakers raised questions that as yet, remain unanswered.

Both San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties have come out against the Monument proposal, in part because of a lack of public outreach and answers as to how this will really impact their constituents.

We’d have prefered a slower approach with more public participation. There are many individuals and organizations adamantly opposed to the Monument. If allowed to voice their concerns and have them addressed and answered, some of that opposition would be reduced. As it is, this rushed process is just fueling their anger and outrage at a lack of public outreach. However, we remain hopeful and confident that any impending announcement will be favorable to mountain bikes.

The following FAQ’s are a summary of the questions and answers we’ve compiled in collaboration with IMBA, Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, San Gabriel Mountains Forever, The Wilderness Society, and the Conservation Land Trust.

With these questions answered, and the assurances from multiple sources (in lieu of the final proclamation language) of our continued access, we are giving our conditional support to the proposal.

 

 

 

October Skills Clinic photos published Saturday, October 4

October 4th, 2014

Eight riders took part in the October 2014 Skills Clinic at Malibu Creek State Park on a sunny day that was forecast to get to 105 degrees. The temperature started off surprisingly cool, then climbed to a roasty warmth by the time we finished, but not close to 105.  You can see the September photos in the October 2014 photo gallery.

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.