Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

President’s Message: The Wilderness Debate

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Trail in the Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness

Currently mountain bike advocacy is facing one of the the most important long-term issues in our history. The issue is whether mountain bikes should be allowed on trails in Wilderness areas. How mountain bikers and advocacy leaders respond to this can either be polarizing or make us an even stronger voice in the trail user and land stewardship community.

In Idaho Montana, the Wood River Bicycle Coalition, an IMBA chapter, worked with IMBA to build support for a National Monument rather than a Wilderness area. Over a period of several years,  negotiations with wilderness advocates, motorized and other recreation groups and elected officials formed a broad coalition of support. However, raw ugly politics ultimately produced a Congressional designation for the Boulder White Clouds Wilderness. This was a painful and well-publicized loss to the mountain biking community. The land protection provisions they had negotiated in good faith to produce a bicycle-friendly National Monument designation were ultimately lost to a crass political maneuver to deny President Obama any semblance of a success. Congress passed a Wilderness bill and the Castle Divide and Ant’s Basin trails were closed to bikes.

Meanwhile, attorney Ted Stroll had been continuing his research into the Wilderness Act, and the congressional debates and intent surrounding that landmark legislation as it was enacted in 1964. He had concluded that the original intent was never to exclude bicycles, as a human-powered form of low-impact recreation, from Wilderness areas. Further research led him to believe that, in accordance with our constitution, we have the right to bring our grievances to the U.S. government. To do this, he formed the Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC), whose sole mission is to pass legislation that would allow local land managers to open trails to bicycles in Wilderness, and to authorize the use of machinery that would allow the most cost-effective and efficient maintenance on Wilderness trails, on a case-by-case, trail-by-trail basis.

How many mountain bikers view the wilderness ban on bikes

The timing of the Idaho defeat brought heightened attention to the STC and their focused, single-issue mission. It cast doubt in the mountain biking community about the effectiveness of IMBA’s approach of building broad partnerships and seeking compromises to both protect bicycle access, while protecting the landscapes through which we ride bikes with a mix of Wilderness boundary adjustments, cherry-stems, and alternative designations. This approach has been highly successful in many instances, but there have been some exceptions, with this loss in Idaho being the most recent and the most publicized.  

20071201007a-Condor Peak OTB, MTB

Condor Peak Trail – Wilderness advocates are still proposing a Condor Peak Wilderness.

Here in the Angeles National Forest, we’ve lost access to much of the backcountry trail network on our Forest. This has placed increased use pressure on non-Wilderness trails by all user groups. Trail maintenance on Wilderness trails has come to a near-halt in many areas, and all user groups are losing those trails to nature. We don’t have any bicycle-legal singletrack options to traverse the San Gabriel Mountains north-south, or east-west, because of numerous closed trails, Wilderness designations, and restrictions on bicycles on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Similarly, in the Sierra, Inyo, and Sequoia National Forests there are vast swaths of Wilderness and a few isolated areas that are open to bikes, many of which are currently being evaluated for Wilderness (and, remarkably, the folks who maintain many Wilderness trails and can’t keep up with the workload have objected to any new Wilderness.).

These Wilderness losses are very much a localized issue, affecting California and the Western States disproportionately to other areas. California has the most Wilderness areas of any state, and is second only to Alaska in Wilderness acres. Here in CORBA’s territory, we have the largest population base in the country near a National Forest. 1 in 20 Americans live within easy driving distance of the Angeles National Forest, with its five Wilderness areas and additional Recommended Wilderness taking nearly one third of the Forest.

Condor Peak Trail

Condor Peak Trail

Recreational activities are greatly reduced in Wilderness areas compared to non-wilderness areas, even if bicycles are left out of the equation. Maintenance efforts are greatly reduced and near-impossible for the Forest Service to schedule, as the cost of manual labor to rebuild trails (no mechanized tools allowed, even wheelbarrows) means these trails often don’t get worked on. While the same can be said of many lesser-used non-wilderness trails, this doesn’t bode well for the future of Wilderness trail recreation.

It also disproportionately affects a smaller subset of the mountain biking community who seek out, relish, and live for backcountry wilderness-type settings that can be experienced by bicycle. It’s why I started mountain biking, and what inspires me to continue exploring and experiencing these majestic landscapes. Sure, I love purpose-built flow trails, downhill trails, and our many favorite local trails. They are needed, but they don’t offer the same experience and escape that some of us live for. We need a broad spectrum of experiences and trail types to cover the many diverse reasons for which people ride mountain bikes, including wilderness-type experiences.

There have been calls for IMBA to take a stronger stand on the Wilderness access issue in print media, the blogosphere, and on social media. In fact, if you have followed closely, the amount of grandstanding on both sides of the bikes in wilderness debate has escalated. From reading some of what has been published, one could easily come away with the assumption that mountain bikers have to pick a side: either support the Sustainable Trails Coalition or support IMBA. Over the past month there have been many calls, emails and forum posts asking to cancel IMBA memberships.

Some writers in the print media have accused IMBA of taking a hardline stance against the STC, but there is much more nuance to their statements that has been overlooked. IMBA hasn’t condemned the STC or opposed their efforts. In fact, IMBA has for many months taken a neutral public policy position toward STC’s strategy, neither supporting nor opposing. Publicly, IMBA has simply stated that the STC approach is not appropriate for IMBA’s mission, given STC’s  single focus, uphill battle, risks and uncertain future., an internet blog, found the vast majority of mountain bikers surveyed support bicycle access to wilderness. The Angry Singlespeeder gave his take on the issue, calling it the most pressing of our time, and followed it this year with an Open Letter to every IMBA member calling on us to demand IMBA to listen to its membership and take a more proactive stance towards the STC. Former IMBA Board Member John Bliss explained why he joined the STC board, with some compelling arguments.

Pressure continues to mount calling for IMBA to support the STC, or at the bare minimum, take a more conciliatory stance and acknowledge the common ground that exist between the two organizations. IMBA have held a press conference explaining their position, posted an FAQ on land protection strategies they will continue to utilize, and conducted four Chapter Leader Executive Briefings with question and answer sessions with approximately 100 chapter leaders nationwide, which I attended.  Many forum comments have construed their public arguments and tone as denigrating and dismissive of the STC, but in direct conversations with IMBA staff, that tone is much more nuanced.

With all this attention on Wilderness, one could be misled into thinking that this was the only issue facing mountain bikers. Admittedly, it is probably the most far-reaching issue that could fundamentally change our approach, as mountain bikers, to land protections nationwide, and especially in the Western states like California. But there are still plenty of more immediate issues and opportunities that need immediate, focussed attention, and that is where IMBA has chosen to put its limited resources and energy.

We see this “us vs. them” dichotomy as far from the case. The fact that IMBA has chosen not to support STC does not infringe upon anyone’s first amendment right to speak up for and support the STC, including us as a chapter of IMBA. IMBA’s (and CORBA’s, for that matter) plate is full with current mountain biking issues, and the vast amount of attention and resources needed to achieve the STC’s mission and focus on Wilderness access would hinder our ability to tend to more immediate threats, identify new opportunities, take advantage of current opportunities, and just get things done now.

We believe we need both organizations. STC’s single, focussed mission is to enact legislation that will allow management of wilderness trail access (and mechanized maintenance) to happen at the most local level feasible. STC is not a membership organization and as such is not structured for or able to do anything on the ground right now to open closed trails to bikes or develop and maintain positive relationships with land managers that are key to our future successes. It will be a difficult struggle and take some time before STC’s efforts may prove fruitful.

IMBA chapters are currently doing the vast majority of advocacy and access work at the local levels. If STC is eventually successful in passing their legislation it will likely be IMBA chapters doing the necessary outreach and hands-on work to give the STC’s legislation teeth, by working directly with local land managers to open trails under the authority of STC’s Human Powered Wildlands Travel Management Act of 2016 (HPWTMA).

Despite what has been claimed by the Wilderness Society and others opposed to bicycles in Wilderness, the STC bill doesn’t open ANY trails to bikes or mechanized maintenance. It allows the “most local” land managers feasible (likely district rangers and supervisors) to make those determinations on a case-by-case, trail-by-trail basis. That’s why IMBA chapters will need those strong relationships when and if the time comes.

You can bet the opposition to bikes will only get louder when that happens, both locally and nationally. It will be IMBA chapters with current, strong land manager relations that will be best positioned to follow through on any STC success. Land managers aren’t just going to open trails to bikes in wilderness areas if the STC bill is eventually enacted.  If the STC bill does go through–and let’s be clear that we hope it eventually will–IMBA Chapters will need to actively engage with local land managers to open trails to bikes under the newly granted authority of STC’s legislation. Even then, those trail openings will probably require a lengthy NEPA process, and may come with restrictions. Permits, capacity limits, mandatory leave-no-trace classes, or other hurdles could be put in place as a part of that Wilderness access. Passing of the HPWTMA is just the starting point to opening trails in Wilderness.

In the meantime if people start choosing to drop support for IMBA chapters to support the STC, that will impede our ability to get things done now, such as bike parks, trail maintenance, new trails, and being a crucial voice in current land management and trail planning efforts. If CORBA/IMBA is weakened by an attrition of supporters now, it will hinder our ability in the future to build upon any STC success, and open trails currently closed to bikes by Wilderness designations.

One of the best things that STC is doing is bringing more attention to this major access issue. What saddens and frustrates us is that social media are misinterpreting some of IMBA’s responses, and turning this into an “us vs. them” situation, which will weaken our efforts on both fronts. We’d much preferred to have a more conciliatory tone from IMBA towards STC, even in the absence of outright support. IMBA has alienated a portion of their members through their statements and firm stance. That just doesn’t need to be so.

There is room–and a great need–for another group like STC to give the Wilderness issue the razor-sharp focus it will need to see through.

IMBA is a 501c3 and cannot directly lobby our government to introduce new legislation, endorse political candidates, and other restrictions. IMBA (and CORBA) are set up as 501c3 public benefit corporations, that can only influence existing laws and policies through public comments, broad-based partnerships with other organizations, and encouraging our members to speak up with their own comments and letters to elected representatives and land managers.

STC is set up as a 501c4, with the specific purpose of directly lobbying congress and our elected officials to enact change at the legislative level. They are able to do things that IMBA and CORBA cannot. It’s important to note that the Sierra Club is a 501c4, just like the STC. They have a companion 501c3, the Sierra Club Foundation, which collects tax-deductible donations that can then be used to support the lobbying efforts of their 501c4. They also operate under budgets 100 times larger than IMBA’s. Most mountain bikers are decidedly lackadaisical in their approach to advocacy–until their favorite trail is closed, or threatened to be closed. And as previously mentioned, while most mountain bikers support opening some trails in Wilderness to bicycles, the number of riders who may eventually utilize wilderness trails is likely much lower.

The mountain biking community has never had a 501c4 organization to stand behind before the STC came along. Just as the Sierra club leverages both a 501c3 and a 501c4 for various, but related, purposes, the mountain biking community has needed both a 501c3 and a 501c4 voice. As mentioned, where we see things have gone awry is that IMBA’s firm but neutral stance has been twisted and construed in social media and the blog/print media as an “us vs. them” situation.

IMBA’s approach is appropriate for IMBA. The STC approach is appropriate for STC. Together, they have brought more attention to this contentious debate, and hopefully helped engage a new cadre of concerned mountain bikers ready to advocate for continued access to trails–both inside and outside of Wilderness. Both organizations are advocating for increased trail access. They are just employing different strategies and tactics.

Let me re-iterate that in the long run, if STC is successful, strong IMBA chapters will be best positioned to make the changes that STC’s bill will authorize. We’ll then need to leverage our ongoing track record of being good land and trail stewards, and work side-by-side with local land managers to open trails in Wilderness areas. We’ll need to work hard to usher those requests through the NEPA process, and deal with the opposition to bikes that will inevitably emerge. If our voice is weakened by a lack of support now, we’ll be in a more difficult position to ask for trails to be opened under the STC bill’s authority in the future.

If STC is unsuccessful, IMBA chapters like CORBA will continue to work to make a difference, just as we have been doing for more than 29 years. We just hope to have the continued–and even increased– level of support we now get from our members.

But things at IMBA have changed somewhat. Their 2016 advocacy position clearly states that they will continue to fight more aggressively to keep trails open in the face of Wilderness proposals, wherever there are local chapters available to do the local on-the-ground work needed. They have been emboldened to take a firmer stance than ever before to prevent trail closures, within the constraints they operate under as a 501c3. Wilderness and environmental advocates are finding it increasingly difficult to pass Wilderness legislation when advocacy groups like IMBA and its chapters are directly and strongly opposed. IMBA is also investigating the merits of a legal challenge to recent trail access losses in the Bitterroot National Forest in Idaho. They have expressed a desire to legislatively adjust existing Wilderness boundaries to open trails that have been closed to bikes (without any changes to the Wilderness Act itself). But their stance falls short of lobbying for sweeping change at the legislative level, which is precisely what STC is positioned to do.

CORBA and IMBA have on a number of occasions asked for “language-based exemptions” to prohibitions on bikes on specific trails in new Wilderness proposals. We’ve usually been turned down on these requests as being “incompatible with the intent of the Wilderness Act” even though numerous language-based exemptions exist for purposes other than bicycle travel and recreation, and the STC’s contention that the “intent” of the Wilderness Act has been misinterpreted in current regulations.  Yet what STC is proposing is making such language-based exemptions (or, more accurately, allowing Forest Service orders to authorize access) for bicycles and trail maintenance,  an integral  part of an amended Wilderness Act.

Let’s not have this issue divide us, weaken us, and allow us to be conquered. Our members can support both STC and CORBA/IMBA, and both organizations will be stronger for it. While we applaud the STC for their approach, CORBA will continue to work on efforts that have immediate, near-term benefit to all mountain bikers and our public lands: trail maintenance, management plan advocacy, currently pending bills, land manager relations, education, and stewardship.

We also hope that one day, CORBA will be in a position to ask our local land managers to open trails in current Wilderness areas to bikes, under the authority of STC’s legislation. But until then, we have to stay strong, stay united, and keep striving towards making immediate, short-term differences, happy in the knowledge that STC is working on a long-term strategy that most of our members agree would be a step in the right direction for all of us. 

Conditional Support of a San Gabriel National Monument

Wednesday, 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.




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

Thursday, 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:



Wilderness Proposal Public Hearings – Be there to help save access to trails Apr 9, 10

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Fellow cyclists, the four Southern California National Forests Land Management Plan Amendment is currently in its public comment period. The amendment makes changes to Land Management plans in the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernadino and Cleveland National Forests. Within that proposal are two alternatives that will forever impact bicycle access to public lands in the Angeles National Forest.

Maps of the proposals are available here.

Fish Canyon Salt Creek Wilderness - Alternative 2

Alternative 2 Map – Click for a larger version

Alternative 1, the “no-action” alternative, is the only alternative we can presently support.

Alternative 2 retains a backcountry non-motorized status for Red Mountain and Tule districts, but it appears that the trails in the Fish Canyon/Salt creek areas may be forever closed. These trails have appeared in guidebooks dating back to the 90’s, and we have ride reports from much more recent times. We asked for these trails to be left out of any wilderness proposals.  There are many other trails, official and unofficial, in the area, and we’re seeking documentation of those trails. If you have knowledge of these potentially affected trails, let us know. We could support Alternative 2 if the trails in question are cherry-stemmed out of the wilderness proposal.

In Alternative 3, the Fish Canyon/Salt Creek proposed wilderness on which we commented last year has now been expanded to include the Red Mountain and Tule districts of the Angeles National Forest. These two areas lie to the east and south of the Fish Canyon/Salt Creek area. These two areas were not included as potential wilderness in the original scoping documents, and we therefore made no comment on them, other than to offer our general support for their designation for non-motorized backcountry use.  Now, in Alternative 3, these two areas and the many trails that traverse them are included as wilderness. Local riders have been riding these trails for more than 30 years, right up to the present. We cannot allow Alternative 3 to be adopted.

We too would like to see these areas protected, and feel that backcountry non-motorized designation gives the area adequate protection, but the environmental lobby is pushing for federal wilderness. We have proposed a compromise, a federally designated Special Conservation Area, which prohibits extractive use, development and road-building and can be custom tailored to allow for non-motorized recreational use, while affording stronger protection for and monitoring of the environment. This would require special legislation.

After the public meetings in March, we will be compiling and submitting our comments on the proposals. We encourage everyone to submit comments on the proposals, along with supporting documentation (GPS tracks, photos) of bicycle use of the trails. The comment period will close on May 16, 2013.

The Forest Service will be hosting multiple open house meetings during the comment period. The content and format of each meeting will be the same. Meetings will begin with an open house where Forest Service staff will be available to answer questions about the Draft SEIS. A brief presentation will begin 30 minutes after the meeting opens, followed by an opportunity to ask questions. Maps of the alternatives will be available for viewing. The meeting times and locations are:

  • March 26, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Angeles National Forest Headquarters, 701 North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91006 
  • March 26, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Alpine Community Center, 1830 Alpine Blvd, Alpine, CA 91901 (Hosted by the Cleveland National Forest)
  • March 27, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Palomar Ranger District Office, 1634 Black Canyon Road, Ramona, CA 92065
  • March 28, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Santa Clara Mojave Rivers Ranger District Office, 33708 Crown Valley Road, Acton, CA 93510 
  • March 28, 2013, 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM, San Bernardino National Forest Headquarters, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92408
  • April 9, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Mt. Pinos Ranger District office, 34580 Lockwood Valley Road, Frazier Park, CA 93225
  • April 10, 2013, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Southern California Edison, 103 David Love Place, Goleta, CA 93117 (Hosted by Los Padres National Forest)

For Further Information Contact Bob Hawkins, Project Manager, or visit the
project website at


Update 3/25/2013:  We have learned more about the draft proposals and reported here.


Recommended Wilderness Proposals in our National Forests

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

In response to a lawsuit, the four Southern California Forests are proposing amendments to their 2006 plans. They are proposing new Backcountry Non Motorized Recreation zones as well as new Recommended Wilderness designations. Several mountain bikers attended the informational workshop at the Angeles National Forest Headquarters on May 30, along with concerned forest users, and many from groups like the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and others.

In the Angeles National Forest there is a recommended Salt Canyon, Fish Creek roadless areas were combined to create a 40,000 acre Recommended Fish Creek Wilderness in an area that was Backcountry Non-Motorized. It is now Forest Service policy that a Recommended Wilderness designation will be managed as if it were wilderness and the area will be closed to bikes.

Concerns have been raised about the status of several significant nearby trails that bicyclists ride. We’re happy to report that the Golden Eagle Trail and the Warm Springs/Elderberry Forebay/Fish Canyon fire road Loop are unaffected by this proposal. Wilderness boundaries have been drawn with “cherry stems,” areas of non-wilderness along the existing fire road corridors. the same has been done for the Burnt Peak fire road.

We do have concerns about the Fish Canyon Trail (1GW05) and the Burnt Peak Trail (1GW02). These run generally north-south right in the middle of what would be the new Wilderness. We heard from several people that these trails may be overgrown and quite deteriorated. We need to know if riders have ridden them and are currently riding them. Despite their current condition, if they go into Wilderness, bikes will be excluded and the trails will likely never be restored due to Wilderness Trail maintenance issues. We might lose a significant future opportunity for a ride in a wild landscape. If you have information about these trails, let Steve Messer ( and Jim Hasenauer ( know.

There are also many changes including Recommended Wilderness Proposals in the Cleveland National Forest, the Los Padres National Forest, and the San Bernadino National Forest. Unfortunately for those who visit all four forests, only the Angeles National Forest proposed management plan revisions were available for review at last night’s event.  If you are concerned about changes in other forests, it will be necessary to meetings. Mountain bike advocates are monitoring the meetings and will soon have talking points for your comments. The deadline for comments is June 11, 2012.

Information about the Forest Manamagement Plan revision process is at

CORBA”s first comment is that the online data supplied is not of sufficient detail or quality to make informed decisions about any new proposed changes in the management plans for the forests. Without real data that we can zoom in on (digitally) and use with the mapping and GIS tools with which we’re familiar, it is impossible to see what areas and trails may be affected in the detail needed to make informed comments. We’d like to see KML or Shapefiles that can be used with the most popular mapping tools for this, and any future NEPA or CEQA documents.

Though we don’t know the current state or conditions of the Fish Canyon and Burnt Peak singletracks, we would like to see the boundaries adjusted to allow continued bicycle access to these trails. We’ll formulate our final comments after we gather more information on these and other affected trails.  Deadline for comments in June 11.

The current designation: Backcountry non-motorized:

The proposed Recommended Wilderness (in dark green):


Remaining meetings are scheduled as follows:


• May 31,2012, 4:00PM to 7:00PM, Santa Maria Red Cross, 3030 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455 (Hosted by Los Padres National Forest)
• May 31, 2012, 4:00PM to 7:00PM, Santa Clara Mojave Rivers Ranger District Office, 33708 Crown Valley Road, Acton, CA 93510
• May 31,2012,4:00 PM to 7:00PM, San Bernardino National Forest Headquarters, 602 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92408.
• May 31, 2012,4:00 PM to 7:00PM, Palomar RangerDistrictOffice, 1634 Black Canyon Road, Ramona, CA 92065 ·
• June 1, 2012, 1:00PM to 4 PM, Frazier Park Library, 3732 Park Drive, Frazier Park, CA 93225 (Hosted by Los Padres National Forest)
• June 5, 2012, 4:00PM to 7:00PM, Descanso Ranger District office, 3348 AlpineB!vd, Alpine, CA 91901
• June 5, 2012,4:00 PM to 7:00PM, Trabuco Ranger District office, 1147 E. 6th Street, Corona, CA 92879




Giant Sequoia National Monument – Public Comments Extended

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Many mountain bikers from Southern California venture out to the trails of the Southern Sierras.  Places like Freeman Creek Trail, Quaking Aspen, Camp Nelson and other areas have been enjoyed by off-road cyclists for many years.

Camp Nelson Trail

Camp Nelson Trail, at the heart of the Monument

The Sequoia National Forest is currently accepting public comments on the Giant Sequoia National Monument draft Environmental Impact Statement, which includes several Management Alternatives. This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (draft EIS) describes six alternatives that would amend the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan to manage the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The draft EIS document will implement President Clinton’s 2000 Proclamation which established the Monument.

Of the six management alternatives presented, Alternative C  could result in a ban for mountain bikes on trails in the Monument, while Alternative D would limit mountain bikes to existing trails without any future expansion. Dispersed camping and other activities are also adversely affected. The remaining options allow for most current trails to be grandfathered in, with varying degrees of flexibility for trail use designations.

We prefer Alternative B, which allows for existing bicycle use and future expansion of recreational opportunities. Alternative F is also favorable to multi-use and bicycles, with the only difference between B and F being the way that fuels reduction and fire control are managed. The complete draft statement is available online for review.

For those who are concerned about California trails being forever closed to mountain bikers, please make your comments to the Sequoia National Forest. This National Monument is bordered by extensive Wilderness areas and a National Park, all of which is off-limits to mountain bike use. We can’t afford to lose more! If you haven’t ridden this area, it offers some spectacular high-country riding and is well worth a visit. It is also very much worth protecting for it’s unique ecological and recreational value.

IMBA is also reviewing the document drafts and will issue their official comments soon.  We encourage everyone to write in support of Alternative B, and strongly against Alternatives C and D. Note that you must login and/or register on the SNF Public Comment Portal to post your comments.

Comments are being accepted through December 3rd, 2010.

Outside Mag: The Ban on Bicycles in Wilderness is Dead Wrong

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Outside Online, the online companion site to Outside Magazine,  recently published online an excellent article about the ban on Bikes in Wilderness areas. The article originally appeared in print in March. Echoing the arguments put forth by IMBA, CORBA and mountain bike groups across the country, the article lays out the reasons that lifting the ban could lead to more land being protected. If wilderness did not exclude bicycles, millions of mountain biking Americans would join with environmentalists to support new wilderness designations.

IMBA is working with agencies at the Federal and local level to incorporate alternate designations that allow mountain biking while still offering similar environmental protection.

You can read the article on Outside Online, or see the full text of the article is after the break.