Opening of Pt Mugu State Park Delayed

January 3rd, 2015
Mud has buried the main Sycamore Canyon Trail. Photo by Dave Edwards.

Mud and rocks have buried the main Sycamore Canyon Trail. Photo by Dave Edwards.

When we first posted this blog in mid-December, State Parks anticipated that they would have Pt Mugu State Park open around January 12th. However, Caltrans has determined that it will take at least until the end of January before the Pacific Coast Highway can be re-opened, so the park closure will be extended.

We’ll update this information when we have more to share.

The original article follows…

The rainstorm that swept through the area late last week resulted in several large mudslides in Point Mugu State Park (AKA Sycamore Canyon). As a result, the park has been closed at least until January 12th, 2015. During this time, State Parks staff will be assessing the damage, cleaning up the mess and coordinating volunteers to help with the cleanup.

The mudslides are the direct result of the hillsides being denuded by the Springs Fire in 2013 and over 3″ of rain that fell in one night.

More photos of the damage can be seen in this photo gallery.

You can find the status of the park at the Pt Mugu State Park website home page.

Please stay out of the park until it reopens, for your safety, to prevent further damage to the trails, and to enable a more speedy cleanup.

President’s Message: A Look Back at 2014

December 30th, 2014

As we prepare to ring in the new year, it’s a good time to reflect on what has happened over the past twelve months. Here’s a quick recap of CORBA’s most significant efforts of 2014.

strawberry peak trail crew Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Trailwork:  One of our biggest accomplishments in 2014 was the restoration of the Strawberry Peak Loop in spring, and the subsequent opening of the trail by the Forest Service on May 28. This much-loved trail was the focus of CORBA, The Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps as we coordinated efforts to get the trail ready for opening. We were aided by a grant from REI which allowed us to bring in a professional trailbuilder for much of the heavier work. The restoration included a short re-route of one section of the trail that had always been troublesome.  Another planned re-route of the northern end of the Strawberry Peak trail through to Colby ranch is currently in the NEPA process, but the main Strawberry Peak loop used by cyclists is open and has been enjoyed all summer and fall. We also helped restore trails damaged in the Springs fire in Point Mugu State Park, worked on the Backbone trail, and our adopted Los Robles trail. For 2015 we are enlisting some new trail crew leaders, as we look to expand our trailwork activities.

 

CORBA's Youth Adventures

CORBA’s Youth Adventures

Youth Programs:  In 2014 our Youth Adventures program continued in full swing, with Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) volunteers taking at-risk youth out on the trails throughout the year.  We added another special event to our calendar, the Santa Monica Mountains Rec Fest, during which we put more than 200 kids on bikes at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Rec Fest was a great addition to the calendar, and we are hoping that funding can be found to repeat the event. In 2014 our Kids Club program was picked up by Carl Kolvenbach who is leading these monthly social rides for kids and their parents.

 

Skills Clinics: For the first Saturday of every month this year, and the past twenty years, we conducted our free Introduction to Mountain Biking Skills Clinics at Malibu Creek State Park. Hundreds of people learned basic skills at our free clinics this year. This free service will continue through 2015 and beyond.

 

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Bike Parks:  Fillmore Bike Park construction is well underway. We worked with local advocates from Ride Heritage Valley and the City of Fillmore to bring a new bike park to the town. Construction began in the fall and is ongoing. The park will be opened to the public in 2015, a great asset to the local community.  In Thousand Oaks the plans for Sapwi Trails Community Park are in their final steps to approval. The plans include a pump track and dirt jumps for bikes, along with multi-use trails. We’re excited to see this facility approved and look forward to its construction. We still have pending proposals before L.A. County, and we hope to see continued progress on those proposals in the new year.

 

National Forest Management Plans:  2014 also saw the completion of the four SoCal National Forests Land Management Plan Amendments. During this five-year process we engaged with the Forest Service on the re-examination of their land management plans. The Forest Service was sued for not providing adequate protections for threatened and endangered species, and the settlement agreement had the Forest Service reassess areas of the four Forests for increased protections. The outcome of that process was the proposed Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness. We filed a formal objection to the RW, as it would close three long-distance backcountry trails to bikes. Though these were not popular trails and hardly saw any use over the past several years, they are still a loss of opportunity to the mountain biking community. The final record of decision was a happy compromise: We now have a recommended wilderness area, but the trails will remain open to bikes until such time as a forest order is issued to specifically close the trails to bicycles.

President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation

National Monument: One of the biggest surprises of the year was the announcement and soon thereafter, the proclamation of the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. While we were all taken by surprise with this announcement, the outcome, our new National Monument, will help the Forest Service attract more resources to the area and bring more attention to our beloved mountains. CORBA will be actively participating in the development of the Management Plan for the National Monument, both as a part of the NEPA process, and as a part of a collaborative group brought together by the National Forest Foundation to ensure as much public engagement as possible in that process.

 

 

Bell boxes contain bells   which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Bell boxes contain bells which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Trail Safety: Over this past year CORBA engaged with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council to strategize on trail safety. We developed an educational trail etiquette brochure, which is now being distributed throughout the area. The brochure has been very well-received. In 2015 we will expand upon those efforts by developing a companion trail etiquette web site. We have received a grant from the Trails and Greenways Foundation to achieve this goal. CORBA has also implemented a bell program in the Conejo Valley, and we now have several different style bells available for purchase.

 

CORBA Board: In 2014 we welcomed Wendy Engelberg to our board of directors, and the bundle of energy and enthusiasm she brings. Steve Messer took over from Mark Langton as board President, while Jennifer Klausner completed her final year as Executive Director of the LA County Bicycle Coalition. We have open seats on our board and welcome any inquiries or nominations.

 

A few losses: We lost our battle with State Parks over the revision of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to trail use in State Parks. While a win would have changed nothing with regards to existing trails, we felt the language we proposed was more welcoming to all trail users and a better regulation for new trails. State Parks leadership were chided for a mismanaged public process in developing the new regulations, which have since been sent back into the public process. However, it has become obvious that no amount of public engagement is going to change what State Parks wanted in the first place, a regulation that makes it more difficult to open trails to bikes.

California State Parks have been under much scrutiny with the Parks Forward Commission releasing findings of numerous areas that need improvement in the administration of our State Parks. Their plan will be released sometime in 2015. We are hoping to see some of the recommendations of the commission implemented, but the reforms will likely be difficult in this chronically mismanaged agency.

Looking forward to 2015, we’ll be as busy as ever. We’ll continue to work with State Parks, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, Los Angeles County, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and local cities and conservancies. We’ll continue to monitor trail access issues. We’ll continue to advocate for more trail opportunities. We’ll continue to work with IMBA at the national level, and our neighboring IMBA Chapters and other trail organizations locally and state-wide.

At the moment we know of at least three major issues that will get our full attention in 2015. The first is the previously mentioned San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan.

Next is the Santa Monica Mountain Trails Master Plan. This plan has been in development for more than 12 years, and is the primary reason that State Parks have not yet followed through on their obligation to assess existing trails for bicycle use. We expect public hearings on the trail master plan to begin mid-winter. This will be one of the most important processes for you to stay involved with, and will determine the future of bicycle access to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains for decades to come.

Rim of the Valley Study Area

Rim of the Valley Study Area

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Study will also be released in Winter 2015. This study is examining the mountains surrounding the San Fernando, Simi, Conejo, and Crescenta and San Rafael valleys for an integrated management approach. This study has implications for trail connectivity, resource protection, wildlife corridors and more.

We need your support. CORBA, with it’s small but dedicated crew of volunteers, has a lot on our plate for 2015. But if we are to accomplish everything on our agenda for 2015, we’ll need some help from you. We depend on your support and your membership dollars. You have renewed your membership, right?  In addition to your membership, attending public meetings and submitting your comments on issues that affect our trails is the most important thing you can do.  Of course, volunteering to do trailwork is the most tangible ways you can make a difference. Join our Meetup group to stay up to date on our activities. We also welcome help in areas of graphic design, public relations/marketing, fundraising and grantwriting. If you’d like to just stay on top of what’s happening and get some of the inside scoop, consider attending our monthly board meetings.

Get out and ride. Stay informed and involved. Remember to be courteous to other trail users. Thanks for your support through a great 2014, and have a wonderful, happy and prosperous 2015!

5 Bell Boxes Installed Along Thousand Oaks Trails

December 29th, 2014
Bell boxes contain bells   which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Bell boxes contain bells which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Over the last month five bell boxes have been installed and stocked along the Los Robles and Rosewood Trails in the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA) areas. This is a joint project between CORBA, the Conejo Open Space Foundation (COSF), COSCA, and local Eagle Scout Michael Young, who constructed and placed the boxes. Two thousand bells were purchased by CORBA and COSF, and local volunteers will be stocking them.IMG_2149 In just under one month nearly 300 bells have been placed in the boxes, with several re-stockings already having taken place, which means the bells are being used. Bells are free and are not expected to be returned. Using a bell is a win/win situation on the trails as it alerts others that you are approaching and helps to eliminate the “startle factor” that so many users complain about when citing negative experiences with bikes on the trails.

Girlz Gone Riding News: 2014 Reflections and 2015

December 26th, 2014

With the enormous growth of women riding socially, GGR soared to 800 riders in 2014. This also made our annual Rocktober event the biggest yet with just under 200 women riders attending with a waiting list of over 100 to get in.  Here is a video of the event by GGR volunteer: Art Lertpiriyapong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snl9NGnaKmU

10710471_10152446583462358_1178046654575321870_o (1)Rocktober was especially exciting this year since we had more demo bikes thanks to Liv and Trek not to mention all the vendor booths we had this year! The women’s clothing was a huge hit thanks to the participating sponsors! Booths from  Shredly and ZOIC and sponsoring women’s riding clothes from Primal & Shebeest were raffled off. The G2 booth sold out of their YOU GOT CHICKED jersey’s.

We were super excited that CLIF sponsored the GGR fuel station this year. Clif provided hydration and recovery drinks as well as a table full of their goodies. Clif also provided items for every goody bag!

CORBA, a partner of GGR also had a huge presence at Rocktober as well as MBU: The Mountain Bike Patrol Unit.

We were also so very proud to have at Rocktober this year Petal Power! This was Petal Power’s 1st event. For the full line of sponsors and their websites, please go here: http://www.girlzgoneriding.com/event-sponsors-2014.html. The date for Rocktober 2015 will be announced in January.

One of GGR’s proudest moments of 2014 is adding our 1st chapter! The GGR IE chapter! For those of you that live in the Inland Empire, this is for you! Headed up by GGR’s own Jackie Reseigne! For the full article, please go to the blog here: http://www.girlzgoneriding.com/blog/ggr-opens-its-1st-chapter-in-the-inland-empire

GGR is proud to welcome our guest blogger Joh Rathbun who will be writing for GGR’s blog! http://www.girlzgoneriding.com/blog/review-of-sweet-spot-skirts

At this  year’s holiday ride and lunch, GGR girlz Wendy Engelberg and Amy Rambacher were interviewed by Roam Rydes for an upcoming podcast. Keep your eyes open for this one! http://www.roamrydes.com/

What can you expect for 2015 from GGR??

GGR will be adding a BIO page for up and coming riders who race , coach and who are involved in their communities. This new page will provide much needed exposure for women athletes all over the US.

GGR TentA women’s lounge at the races! For some of the Southridge USA and Rim Nordic races, GGR will have our big purple booth welcoming female athletes. The booth is there for a place to meet other women, network, leave your stuff, hang, find vet riders to session with, etc.

Clinics and trips! GGR continues to encourage learning skills to be safer riders that have a ton more fun on the trails! In  the 1st quarter of 2015, The Ride Like a Ninja skills clinics are returning to GGR. There are still spots open! Register here: http://sandiegomountainbikeskills.com/upcoming-clinics/

Also, March 21st and 22nd, GGR, Girls Ride 2 and G2 Bikes have proudly teamed up to bring Kat Sweet’s Sweetlines Shred Sessions to our women’s community! Sorry ladies, this 2 day clinic sold out the 1st day. http://sweetlines.com/

TRIPS! One of our favorite places to run away to with our bikes is BIG BEAR!  GGR will host a women’s weekend in Big Bear the 1st weekend of August. Dates to be confirmed soon. This is open to all women everywhere for strong beginners and up, both XC and DH! GGR goes to Big Bear all summer and also has co ed trips.

Day Trip: The R50! Ride for Ruwanda! This is an incredible charity event that we participate in. Register as a GGR club member here: https://50mileride.webconnex.com/registration2015

Other trips in the works: Kernville, Sea Otter, more Big Bear weekends!

For information on becoming a GGR member, club sponsor, opening a new chapter or volunteer, please contact us at wendy@girlzgoneriding.com.

From Wendy Engelberg

CORBA’s Trail Safety and Etiquette Education Campaign

December 15th, 2014

During the past year, CORBA met with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and State Parks representatives with the goal of improving safety on the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains. CORBA and the Trails Council both recognize the need for better education and outreach to the trail community. There has been a large increase in the numbers of visitors to the Santa Monica Mountains over the past decade. This increase in use has led to an increase in the potential for conflict and incidents on the trails.

Trail Etiquette Tri-fold Brochure_01One of the biggest factors in safety on trails is the speed differential between mountain bikes–especially going downhill–and other trail users. It’s the reason there’s a 15mph speed limit on all trails and fire roads in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. There has been a commitment to increase enforcement of these rules by State Parks and the NPS, but we believe that education is vital to reducing incidents or accidents on trails.

The outcome of those meetings was the development of a new Trail Etiquette brochure (pictured to the right). The brochure is being widely distributed in the area. We hope to educate all trail users on trail etiquette best practices. As a CORBA supporter you already know to slow down, yield to other trail users and be courteous. But many hikers don’t know that bikes are supposed to yield, many cyclists don’t know what to do when they come across equestrian trail users. The brochure attempts to explain what it means, in the most practical sense, to yield the trail. It also explains the responsibilities of all trail users in clear and simple terms.

As we developed the brochure it became clear that this information needs to be more widely distributed. It’s applicable to all non-motorized trails and trail users anywhere. CORBA applied for a grant from the California Trails and Greenways Foundation to put trail etiquette information on the web. We’re excited to announce that the grant was approved earlier in December, and we’ve begun working on a new web site entirely devoted to trail etiquette. Look for an announcement in the coming months when we launch the new web site.

 

 

A Monumental Collaboration

December 12th, 2014

Initially, we were taken aback by the announcement of a newly proposed National Monument in our local mountains. It was clear that it was going to happen with or without our involvement. We gave our conditional support to the proclamation, attended the proclamation signing celebration, and began our outreach efforts in earnest. We subsequently met with Congresswoman Judy Chu and expressed our desire to be included and involved.

Subsequently, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) interviewed a number of trail advocates, public lands advocates, and community group leaders. As CORBA President, I was interviewed, along with a few dozen other individuals. After the interviews, twelve of us were invited to participate in a collaborative working group.

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Collaborative Working Group

Collaborative Working Group Meeting

On December 2nd, 2014, the first collaborative working group meeting was convened. We discussed the role of the collaborative group, and strategized about how to engage more people in both the development of a management plan for the Monument, as well as how to better connect communities to the mountains and the recreational opportunities they provide. Together, the working group developed a draft structure and recommendations for the expansion of the group, which will be expanded to include dozens of stakeholders. A participation subcommittee was formed to develop a list of candidates for the larger collaborative group. The outcome of the first meeting helped set the stage for the process going forward, but the larger group will be convened before making any binding decisions.

We also developed the following draft mission statement for the collaborative group:

Represent diverse perspectives to identify, prioritize and advocate for investments, management objectives, and values that sustainably benefit the Angeles National Forest, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and all communities throughout the region.

In this collaborative process, the NFF is serving as a neutral convener, providing the forum and the structure for this process. The National Monument Management Plan will be developed through a NEPA public process that will begin in 2015. The collaborative group’s efforts are happening in parallel to this NEPA process, will help inform that process, and help ensure that many disparate interests are considered. However, it will be the Forest Service that has final say over the management of the National Monument.

What we did not get was answers to many of the questions that still surround this hastily declared National Monument. Questions such as why certain heavily-impacted areas were left out, or how the Monument will be funded. While we’re all still curious as to the answers to these and other questions, the more important question is how best to work with and manage the National Monument we were given.

The collaborative working group will next meet in mid-January, and the expanded group will be convened in February or early March.

Report on December 6th Backbone Trailwork and Photos

December 11th, 2014

IMG_0461[1]On Saturday, December 6th, a dozen CORBA volunteers and about half as many from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council returned to the 2.5-mile long singletrack section of the Backbone Trail between Mulholland Hwy and Etz Meloy Motorway to continue the work we had started on November 8th. As before, the Trails Council crew hiked up to where they had previously worked down to, and continued down. CORBA volunteers worked up the trail from where we had left off last month.

We focused on clearing brush from the edge of the trail, but four volunteers took tread working tools to clear out old drains, and install new ones if needed. It had rained a few days earlier so we could clearly see where the water was running down the trail.

We’ll have to return in 2015 to finish off this section of the backbone trail.

Check out our photo gallery to see more dedicated volunteers at work!

December Skills Clinic photos published Tuesday, December 9

December 9th, 2014

As always, the free basic Skills Clinic was conducted on the first Saturday of the month in Malibu Creek State Park. This month, Graham again took the photos because Steve was busy with trailwork on the Backbone Trail. You can see the photos in our December photo gallery.

IMBA Trail Building School in San Diego, Dec 6

November 17th, 2014
IMBA Trail Care Crew Visit with CORBA

IMBA Trail Care Crew’s last Visit with CORBA

Our friends and colleagues at the San Diego Mountain Bike Association will be hosting the IMBA Trail Care Crew on Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.  If you missed out on the class hosted by CORBA and Mount Wilson Bicycling Association and would like to attend, you’re in luck. The IMBA Trail Care Crew trailbuilding class is free and open to anyone. Below are the details from SDMBA.


 

Trail Building School featuring the IMBA Trail Care Crew

Saturday, December 6th, from 9am ­ – 4pm

Locations:

IMBA Trail Building School: Crest Elementary School, 9am ­ – Noon, 2000 Suncrest Blvd., Crest, CA 92021

Field Demonstration/Trail Work: Crestridge Ecological Reserve, 1pm ­ – 4pm, 1171 Horsemill Road, Crest, CA 92021

The San Diego Mountain Biking Association regularly invites the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s (IMBA) Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew to visit our area. They will be in San Diego the weekend of December 4th­ – 7th to talk trails, teach people proper trail building technique and spend quality time digging in the dirt. The visit is one of 38 stops on the 2014 schedule. Each crew visit is anchored around IMBA’s highly­respected Trail Building School, during which the crew teaches sustainable trail construction and maintenance via a classroom session, followed by hands­on trail work.

If you’d like to learn more about sustainable trail design, building, and maintenance then you’ll get a lot out of this day. We’ll provide a light breakfast before the Trail School and lunch after the classroom session and before the field demonstration/trail work.

Cost: Through the generous support of Subaru, Trek, Yakima and REI we provide this training day at no cost.

Registration: For more information and to register for the IMBA Trail building School, contact:  Gardner Grady, SDMBA Crestridge Liaison: gardner(at)sdmba(dot)com

Register online here. Scroll down and click “Register Now” and then click the “yes” button under “TCC ­ Attending the IMBA Trail Building School?”

 

Report on the November 8th Backbone Trailwork and Photos

November 9th, 2014
Google Earth view of our work area, looking north-west. The CORBA crew worked the bottom (green) and the Trails Council crew worked the top (yellow) of this 2.5-mile long segment of the Backbone Trail. Mulholland Hwy (23-S) is at the bottom of the image. The trail ends at Etz Meloy Motorway.

Google Earth view of our work area, looking north-west. The CORBA crew worked the bottom (green) and the Trails Council crew worked the top (yellow) of this 2.5-mile long segment of the Backbone Trail. Mulholland Hwy (23-S) is at the bottom of the image. The trail ends at Etz Meloy Motorway.

On Saturday, November 8th, 13 CORBA volunteers and 6-8 from the Santa Monica Trails Council combined forces to fix up the 2.5-mile long singletrack section of the Backbone Trail between Mulholland Hwy and Etz Meloy Motorway. The gentle grade of this trail, combined with sweeping turns, easy switchbacks, great views and connections to the rest of the Backbone Trail make this a favorite for mountain bikers.

Being more used to working a distance from the trailhead, the Trails Council crew hiked to the top and worked their way down while the CORBA crew started near the bottom and worked up the trail. We skipped the first few hundred feet because of the presence of invasive weeds; we didn’t want to spread the seeds around by disturbing these aggressive plants. Both groups completed about a half-mile of trail.

We focused on removing brush at the side of the trail, but a few workers concentrated on removing silt and other debris from the drains. Our priority is generally to make sure the trails are well drained so rainwater doesn’t erode ruts down the middle. The drains on this trail were plentiful and well designed when the trail was built about seven years ago, so we didn’t need to build any new ones as we do on most trails.

Check out our photo gallery to see more dedicated volunteers at work!

IMG_0388