Posts Tagged ‘Topanga’

Ride And Mingle (RAM) Nov 17 Building Momentum

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

In celebration of CORBA’s 25th Anniversary, on November 17 we will Ride up to The Hub in Topanga State Park and Mingle for a photo opportunity to show land managers and the trail user community that mountain bikers can and do coexist on the trails. We are hoping for 250 (or more) riders. Save the date and spread the word!

We’ll meet at 10am and around 10:30 we’ll take the group shot. We’ll then hand out cash prizes, with the top cash amount being $1,000. We’ll also be having a 50/50 drawing, so bring $20 in cash and put it into the pot, with the lucky winner getting half of whatever is collected and the other half going to CORBA.

How do you get to The Hub? There are several trail head locations you can start from. Reseda Blvd., Trippet Ranch, Sullivan Canyon, Mulholland Drive (dirt) from the east (Encino) or west (Woodland Hills), Will Rogers State Historic Park, Westridge Fireroad, and San Vicente Mountain Park (Nike Site), to name a few.

Check this map with all the trails and trailheads. The Hub is marked with a blue dot and the letter “z.”

Or, download this map. The Hub and the major trailheads are circled. Print it and bring it with you so you don’t get lost!

Though no RSVP is required, you can let us know you’re planning to Ride and Mingle on CORBA’s Meetup group.

CORBA comments on Topanga General Plan

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Topanga State Park General PlanAs we reported last year, a new Topanga General Plan is being developed by California State Parks. The plan will guide Topanga State Park’s future, ensuring that management practices are in line with the mission and objectives of the Park.

The general plan does not govern trail use designations, and instead defers to the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Master Plan, which is still in development.

The current draft of the plan was released in December.  The public comment period ends today, January 23, 2012.  Below are the comments that CORBA is submitting. Members of the public are also welcome to comment on the plan, which can be found at http://parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25956.

 

February 23, 2012

Luke Serna, Environmental Coordinator
Topanga General Plan Team
California State Parks
Southern Service Center
8885 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 270
San Diego, CA 92108

Re.:  Topanga State Park General Plan

Dear Mr. Serna,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Topanga State Park General Plan. We have been involved in the process from the first public hearings, and are happy to see the plan approach its final iterations.  We congratulate you and the staff for moving the plan forward.  However, as CORBA represents off-road cyclists, there are a few items and omissions in the current draft about which we have some concerns.

1.  We read on page 49 “Eight additional focus group meetings were held to better understand a few site specific issues.” Then number 5 on page 50 mentions a focus group on user conflicts. CORBA as an organization representing off-road cyclists was not made aware of, and did not attend any such focus group. Nor did any of our members or anyone we can find in the bicycling community. There aren’t any details of who called the group or how that group’s findings may have affected the final plan. Without cyclists present, we are concerned that an unbalanced representation of user conflicts may have been made. Exclusion of one user group from such a focus group cannot possibly foster multi-use principles, just as excluding a user group from a trail furthers and deepens user conflicts when they do occur. Please document and clarify the process used to form this focus group and its findings as they pertain to the general plan. This would perhaps be suitable for inclusion as an appendix.

2. On page 65, it states “1. a. This management plan will address the ability of bikes, horses and other pack animals, and fire, construction and Park vehicles to carry and spread exotic plant seed throughout the Park.”  There is no mention of hiking boots, running shoes, shoe tread, socks or clothes as a vector for the spread of exotic seed. This should also be of concern and should be addressed, especially since hikers are much more likely than cyclists to go off-trail where they can be exposed to more seed than would otherwise be encountered by those staying on the trail. We feel this is an omission.

3. Page 53 states that “trail-use designations are not part of this plan…. However, trail corridors, as well as trail goals and guidelines, will be established as a part of this process.”  While these “trail corridors” appear in the legend of the map on page 105, the scale of the map and the visual indicators used in the legend do not allow for the easy identification of or distinction between “corridors” and existing trails.  A verbal description of each trail corridor proposed and/or a larger scale map would do much to alleviate and prevent any confusion. We feel we cannot adequately comment on the proposed trail corridors without fully understanding them.

4.  In Table 3, “Planning Matrix” on page 113, the Lagoon, Watershed Zone and Lower Topanga zones are listed as being restricted to “hiking on designated trails only.” To list an entire zone off-limits to other user groups will hamper the efforts to complete the Coastal Slope trail as it is envisioned–a multi-use long distance trail–that will pass through that zone. The Coastal Slope trail itself appears on the Lower Topanga/Lagoon Preferred Plan “Range of possible features” on page 115.  Making trail use decisions on a trail-by-trail basis, rather than a blanket closure of an entire area, will allow for better management of users in the area, and reduce impediments to the planned Coastal Slope Trail.

5.  According to the plan Musch Campground is open to bicycles.  However, the Musch Trail is currently closed to bicycle use. A formal change-in-use request has been submitted to convert that trail to multi-use including bicycles. How is Musch Campground currently accessed by bicycles?

Off-road cycling is a healthy outdoor recreational activity that entices people away from their couches and computers and into our treasured open spaces. Cyclists comprise a large portion of State Park visitors, yet only fire roads and Rogers Road are currently open to bikes in Topanga SP, concentrating bicycles on fewer trails, and placing them on wide fire roads that encourage high rates of downhill speed. This contributes to user conflicts and creates further divisiveness between user groups. We would like to see the General Plan recognize cycling as a legitimate, welcomed and, when managed appropriately, sustainable activity in Topanga State Park.

CORBA has a long history with State Parks in the Santa Monica Mountains. Our trail crew volunteers have worked on Rogers Road and many other trails in neighboring State Park units for many years. We note in the plan that there is a recommendation to continue to work with volunteer and non-profit groups. We work side-by-side with other user groups at State Trails Day and other events. CORBA works constantly to educate, inform and encourage off-road cyclists to practice good trail etiquette, and the vast majority do. We look forward to continuing and furthering our relationship with Topanga State Park and other SP units in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Thank you,

Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association

CORBA Meets With State Parks Superintendents

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

On November 22 CORBA Board of Directors members Mark Langton, Hans Keifer, Danusia Bennett-Taber, and Steve Messer, along with IMBA representative Jim Hasenauer, met with Topanga Sector Superintendent Lynette Brody and Acting Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap. The specific purpose of the meeting was to update Superintendent Sap on CORBA’s programs as well as to review the trail conversion request made by CORBA more than two years ago as part of a state-wide process.

Several key points were brought up during this meeting:

-CORBA programs (trail work and maintenance, Youth Adventures and CORBA Kids Club, Skills Classes) and their positive value and impact on the trail user community.

-Mountain bikers, despite representing a large percentage of overall trail users, have the fewest miles of singletrack trails available. Mountain bikers, based on numbers and skill levels, deserve a diversity of experiences (beginner, intermediate, advanced) the same way that hikers have access to a wide variety of trails, as well as equity of experience that our numbers justify. We also stressed connectivity as there are many missing links and places where bicyclists are cut off from important destinations.

-Trails currently closed that should be designated as shared use: Backbone Trail segments of Musch, Topanga to Malibu Creek, Ray Miller, Paramount to Malibu Creek (Lookout or Yearling, Topanga SP to Temescal Gateway Park, Temescal to Rogers State Historic Park; other trails currently closed to mountain biking including Rustic Canyon from Mulholland and from Rogers Road, Los Liones, Bent Arrow, and Garapito trails in Topanga SP, Nicholas Flats Trail in Leo Carillo SP, Hidden Pond and Coyote trails in Point Mugu SP.

-We were frustrated at recent actions that seemingly ignored our concerns while almost concurrently created diminished opportunities and conditions for not only mountain bikers, but all trail users.

-Current status of the trail conversion process in the Angeles District.

While this meeting was in some respects a new beginning with State Parks leadership, Superintendents Brody and Sap were both very familiar with CORBA in general, and there was certainly an air of cooperation that we have not experienced in several years. Said Superintendent Sap in a follow-up email response, “I feel yesterday’s meeting was very productive. I came away with a greater appreciation of CORBA and feel encouraged that we can move forward with a renewed atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.” CORBA’s feeling is that there is an improved sense of commitment and enthusiasm from State Parks management, and that they comprehended our points about equity, diversity, and increased opportunities. In particular, we were assured that direction by trails experts at the State level will be weighted heavily in the conversion process, and that the public will have opportunities to submit input. We were also told that management recognized that recent actions that effected trail conditions and access were not handled appropriately in respect to informing the public, and that greater efforts would be made to fully educate the trail user community of impending actions moving forward.

The current status of the conversion process is ongoing, with trails in Topanga State Park taking priority as part of the current development of a trail plan in that park. On December 15 the use status of Musch, Lookout, Yearling, and Deerleg Trails will be discussed by State Park personnel and an announcement will follow shortly.

Rogers Road Trail Update

Monday, November 15th, 2010

On November 10, CORBA Board members Mark Langton, Jeff Klinger, Hans Keifer, Danusia Bennet-Taber, and Steve Messer, along with Jim Hasenauer of IMBA and Bryan Gordon of the Canyonback Alliance, walked/rode the upper section of Rogers Road Trail with Topanga Sector Superintendent Lynette Brody and Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner.  This tour was arranged by CORBA with these State Park employees in response to intense public input regarding recent work performed on the “re-route” (singletrack) section of trail (west where it meets Temescal Ridge Fire Road) as well as about a mile and a half of the wider road bed to the east of the singletrack. In the past few weeks, Supervisor Skinner has used a Sweco trail tractor/dozer to fix and install several drainage channels, as well as bring the trail up to vegetation clearance guidelines for multiple use, specifically, equestrians. Many local trail users have complained to State Parks that the work was overdone and that a once narrow, serene singletrack trail has been obliterated into a road.

There are actually two separate sections, the “re-route” which was built as a true narrow trail, and the main Rogers Road Trail, which was originally a road cut that supported wide and heavy equipment.

Earlier comments on CORBA’s web site began by trying to assuage concerns of trail users not familiar with this kind of work by saying that typically trails “come back” to a more natural state after a couple of seasons. This can be said for the “re-route” section, although CORBA noted to Supervisor Skinner that the widening created a “faster trail” and suggested that possible speed control devices such as pinch-point structures be considered.

As for the wider section, based on the tour that took place on November 10, CORBA’s original comments were premature. After witnessing the complete section of the work area and hearing comments made by Supervisor Skinner, as well as an evaluation by professional trail contractor Hans Keifer, it is evident that the work that was performed lacked forethought and consideration for minimal impact. In fact, no Project Evaluation Form (PEF) was submitted for this work and therefore is in direct violation of the department’s own policy. We were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process, which they said could take several months to over a year.

It’s true that after new construction or trail maintenance, trails look bare and lose their natural character.  Typically, Spring rains create new vegetation which helps the trails recover some of their more natural character.   This has been our experience on several agency trail maintenance projects in the past.  In the case of the recent work on the wider section of Rogers Road Trail there was a fundamental disagreement between the State’s position that Rogers should be maintained to “road” standards and that vegetation should be cut wider than the 8-foot wide/10-foot high vegetation clearance suggested by multiple use guidelines–and CORBA’s position that Rogers is a trail (the Backbone Trail), not a road; that the 8-foot/10-foot clearance was for new trail construction, not existing trails, and that the trail should be left as narrow and natural as possible while addressing and achieving the maintenance concerns of water drainage and a proper vegetation width for shared use with equestrians.

We acknowledged that this is a multi-use trail that must work for all users and that there are several drainage and maintenance issues that are beyond the scope of handwork.  We demonstrated how anything more than an 8-foot clearance wasn’t necessary for safety or sustainability and that in many cases the clearance that has been done was far wider than eight feet.  CORBA’s position is that this work went too far and urged State Parks to minimize the impact of the maintenance on the only bike-legal singletrack in Topanga State Park.

We were informed that the plan was to continue the work down to the Will Rogers State Historic Park Trail Loop, and we also expressed serious concern about continuing these impacts into what is admittedly an eroded and deteriorating section of trail. Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner reiterated that moving forward, greater evaluation and a full PEF would take place and could take several months to over a year.

Examination of the new/refurbished drains that were installed shows minimal attention to corrected out sloping to facilitate proper drainage; drains were basically cut with only a few passes with the Sweco’s blade and very little additional shaping or contouring was evident. On another section of trail, an entire corner (approximately 250-300 square feet) was scraped clean of vegetation, with the reason for the denudation being “ it’s for the hikers. Hikers like the beautiful views.” This brush clearance ignores the fact that it created a large, bare, disturbed area of unprotected, easily eroded earth that will exacerbate hydro erosion because there is no root system to control runoff. Also, there was no drain installed at the bottom of the hill where water would run to from this bare area. Another section of trail further south was smoothed of ruts and out sloped correctly. However, the width of the tread was increased to approximately 12 feet, far more than what CORBA considers appropriate or necessary.

Maintenance Supervisor Dale Skinner (left foreground) and members of CORBA discuss the complete removal of vegetation from dozens of square yards of soil at an "overlook" section of Rogers Road Trail. Photo by Jim Hasenauer

Again, we were assured by both Superintendent Brody and Supervisor Skinner that the work will not continue until a Project Evaluation Form is completed and that trail users will have a say in the process. Check back here for further information as we get it. There will be several opportunities to get involved as trail planning in Topanga State Park and the rest of the Santa Monica’s moves forward. We encourage you to get involved with your parks’ planning process and be proactive in shaping park policy, planning and landscapes.

State Parks Programatic EIR Public Hearing

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

This Saturday, November 13, California State Parks will be hosting the final public hearing on their Draft Programatic EIR.

Bicycle access to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains and many other areas will be directly affected by the final version of this document, so it is important to ensure that mountain bikers are fully engaged in this process. CORBA and IMBA representatives will be attending, and we urge everyone who would like to see more trails opened for bicycles in State Parks to attend and make comments.

What is a Programatic EIR?  This is an effort to streamline the process of converting trails from one designation, such as hiker-only, to another designation, such as multi-use. This is good for mountain biking.  According to IMBA:

California State Park’s Director Ruth Coleman has embraced a statewide Programatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) that will improve the process to convert trails to shared-use status. “This will lay the groundwork for the efficient conversion of trails that IMBA California and clubs have been requesting for some time,” says IMBA California’s Tom Ward. This bodes well for efforts to open Bill’s Trail in Marin, as well as numerous trails in Santa Cruz and Humboldt counties, Mt Diablo State Park, Folsom State Recreation Area, Donor Lake State Park, various Sonoma County parks and miles of trails in the Los Angeles basin. According to Ward, park managers have often shown support for improved mountain bike access — but each time they attempt implementation they are threatened with lawsuits from opposing forces. “The intent of PEIR is to curtail the legal challenges to each trail conversion project,” says Ward. He adds, “This is a major milestone for IMBA’s efforts to increase mountain bike access in state parks.”

The meeting will take place from:

1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, November 13
Lake Activities Building,Lake Perris State Recreation Area,
17801 Lake Perris Drive,
Perris, CA 92571 [map].

The Notice of Preparation for the draft PEIR can be found at http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=980. Public comments are being accepted through November 30. Comments on the PEIR may be submitted in person at the workshops, or by either mail to:

Environmental Coordinator – Trails PEIR
1 Capitol Mall, Suite 410
Sacramento, CA  95814

Or by email to:  ceqansc@parks.ca.gov
(Note:  In the Subject Line, write:  ‘Trails PEIR’)

Comments can also be submitted by Fax to: (916) 445-8883;  Please address faxes to: Environmental Coordinator – Trails PEIR

We’ll have more details and a more thorough report after Saturday’s presentation and hearing.

Topanga State Park Meeting #2

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

On July 28, Jim Hasenauer and Jeff Klinger attended the second General Plan Meeting for Topanga State Park. It is important that riders weigh-in on this process and view the planning website at: http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=25956.

Most of this meeting focused on the vision for the park and the idea of management zones. There are several important concerns for cyclists. Input at this phase of the General Plan process will be used to formulate the Preferred Plan. Please read the following, check out the website and comment at: enviro@parks.ca.gov

1. The plan emphasizes preservation of Topanga’s significant natural resources. We support that. Unfortunately, the vision does not give strong enough commitment to trail recreation in the park. The mission of California State Parks is: To provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Topanga’s vision needs to be consistent with the agency’s mission. The Vision should include a statement such as: “Provide outstanding sustainable and diverse trail experiences for hikers, mountain bicyclists, equestrians and other park visitors.”

2. Mountain bicyclists have enjoyed Topanga since the very first days of our sport. One of the early mountain bike pioneers, Victor Vincente of America, developed his prototype “Topanga” mountain bike there. When CORBA was formed in 1987, it was partially in response to the closing of singletracks in Topanga State Park. Mountain bicyclists want equity of trail experiences, diversity of trail experiences, and connectivity of trails. The plan will influence each of these for many years, so it’s important that you submit comments now.

Equity of trail experience – If you ride Topanga, you know that on any given day, most of the trail users are on bicycles. In contrast, we’re only allowed on less than half the trails/roads. All singletracks, with the exception of Roger’s Road, are closed to us. It’s fine to have one or two singletracks “hiker only,” but it is not fair to have all but one of them closed. An early descriptive statement on the Planning web page says “singletrack trails host hikers and sometimes equestrians.” It’s time for this to change. Let the Park Service know which singletrack trails would be important to you. Ask them to open them. Another concern is that the park is considering “natural and cultural preserves.” In most cases, preserves ban bicycles. We are, of course, committed to protecting these wild and significant areas, but there should be bicycle access to and through these preserves.

Diversity of Trail Experience—Mountain bicyclists, like other outdoor recreationalists, are diverse in our interests and abilities. Topanga riders range from beginners, including children first learning to ride, to skilled, technical, even professional riders. The one size fits all view of “fire roads yes/singletracks no,” does not serve the public’s recreational needs. Our highest priority for the Santa Monica Mountains has always been access to the entire length of the Backbone Trail. In Topanga, Hondo Canyon and the Musch trail are sections of the Backbone that mountain bikers want open. In the planning meeting, they presented a “Visitor Based Camping and Trail Map” that shows the Hondo Canyon section of the Backbone open to bikes. We need to support that. It is true that not everyone could ride all of the Hondo Canyon trail without walking, but that doesn’t mean it should be closed to us. In fact, part of the experience of mountain biking is the adventure of exploring new trails and to hop off and hike-a-bike sections that are too steep or technical for our abilities. Land managers don’t seem to understand this concept, or mountain bikers in general. The Musch Trail is a significant missing link in all of their plans. There’s a trail camp there, which we need access to. The Backbone Trail is the most significant, long distance trail in the Santa Monicas. It should be open to us. The Plan also envisions a major trailhead for the Coastal Slope Trail, a long distance trail on the ocean side slope of the mountains. This too must be multiple-use.

Connectivity of trails – There are at least two major obstacles to connectivity in Topanga. The first is the cyclist missing link to the Backbone mentioned above. The second is bike access to Temescal Canyon. Over the last several years, Temescal Canyon has become the site of regular meetings, seminars, interpretive events, family activities, etc. Those of us coming from the San Fernando Valley side cannot get there by bike. That’s particularly frustrating because there are two trails that go from Topanga State Park to Temescal and one trail that goes from Will Rogers State Park to Temescal. All three of these are closed to us. The Visitor Based map indicates that the Temescal Ridge Trail would be open to bikes. This is significant and needs to be supported.

Vehicles on dirt Mulholland – State Parks is considering allowing cars to drive along dirt Mulholland in the Mulholland Corridor Zone (see map). We oppose this. Note that it does not have to be either “visitor based” or “preservation based,” it can be a mix of both.

It’s important that you let State Park officials know that you love Topanga State Park and have specific recreational needs there. We have seen the Angeles District of State Parks spend tax dollars on new “No Bikes” signage in Topanga and we’ve seen their employees attempt to re-designate Sin Nombre and two Foxes trails in Pt. Mugu to hiker-only (which CORBA literally caught in the act and prevented). Overall, they APPEAR to be biased against, and turning a blind-eye to the needs of the State’s residents who visit and recreate at State Parks via mountain bicycle. Well, State Parks is reaching out to the public for input and support. Let them know that you, as a State Parks visitor, supporter, and enthusiast, expect more from them, and equitable representation in this plan. Email comments to: enviro@parks.ca.gov or write: SOUTHERN SERVICE CENTER / Project Lead, 8885 Rio San Diego Dr., #270, San Diego, CA  92108-1627

Thanks,

Jim Hasenauer & Jeff Klinger

Topanga State Park General Plan Meeting CANCELLED

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

This meeting has been canceled. When State Parks reschedules it, we will let you know. Be a part of Topanga State Park’s future by attending a workshop on May 11, 2010 at Stewart Hall, Temescal Canyon Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades. The California Dept. of Parks and Recreation is preparing a General Plan and an environmental impact report on the potential impacts that the Plan may cause. The Plan will identify management areas/corridors and recommend goals and guidelines for the park that will address future management of park resources, land-use and development, visitor use, and operational issues. The Plan may recommend levels and types of use, capacities and visitation, special designations and protections, as well as location and type of future facilities.

It is important that the agencies hear from mountain bikers as we are key members of the park’s community and stakeholders in the park’s future. The first workshop was held September 29 and focused on the existing conditions and issue identification. State Parks personnel will present project alternatives for public consideration and comment at the upcoming meeting. For more information visit www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=25956 and check corbamtb.com for future developments.