CORBA was very much involved in last week’s California Trails and Greenways Conference. This annual event brings together land managers at the Federal, State, County and City levels, along with resource planners, volunteers, non-profit organizations and professional landscape architects and trail builders.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Navigating Radical Change.” The most radical of all changes that land managers are facing is the shrinking of budgets for trail and open space projects. Another is the changing demographic of trail users.
Many sessions at the conference talked about the importance of engaging volunteers, of reaching out to foster public-private partnerships between land managers and non profit advocacy groups.
CORBA has already been putting into practice many of these principles, partnering with the Forest Service and State Parks to help maintain trails; partnering with the So Cal High School League to empower the next generation of off-road cyclists as advocates and stewards.
CORBA President Mark Langton participated in a rousing panel presentation on the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, a multi-use trail system that has worked successfully with minimal conflict for more than two decades. An entertaining keynote address was given by conservation celebrity Ed Begley Junior. He treated the attendees to stories of how and why he came to be so ingrained within the conservation movement.
Among the volunteer groups in attendance, there were at least five bicycling advocacy groups represented. IMBA’s new regional director Patrick Kell was there, along with representatives from the San Diego Mountain Bike Association, Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers, Santa Barbara Trail Volunteers, CORBA, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and other groups.
On Friday morning of the conference, 8 bicycle adovocates joined Steve Messer and past CORBA board member Hans Kiefer in a tour of Rocky Peak. They had a great ride, showing once again that there is some great mountain biking around Los Angeles.
A conference such as this is vital for bringing disparate user groups, land managers and trail stewards together, where we always learn we have much more in common than we think. The fact that working together is often the only way anything can be accomplished was one of the most important take-home messages from the conference.
On Saturday, after the conference, Orange County’s Trails4All brought 6 equestrians, 4 hikers, and about a dozen mountain bikers from CORBA, SHARE, SDMBA, CCCMB together for a ride/hike/run/hoof event. We travelled together on the trails of Malibu Creek State Park, showing again that where there is respect and cooperation it is very possible for all user groups to co-exist peacefully on the trails.
Our since thanks to the organizers, the presenters, the sponsors, and to all our fellow attendees at the conference. These meetings underscore the importance of working together, and create at an atmosphere conducive to constructive and informative exchanges of information and viewpoints. We look forward to next year’s Trails and Greenways conference in Lake Tahoe.