President’s Message: 2015 – A Year in Review

2015 has been one of the most active in CORBA’s history. There has been so much happening in our local mountains, in our sport, in our public lands, in the political landscape, and in bicycle advocacy in general. As always, CORBA has done its best to stay on top of the issues, to be leaders in the trail community, and to have a positive impact on our trails, our public lands, our community and our sport. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening this year, showing how your membership dollars and donations are being used to benefit all mountain bikers in the Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.

Advocacy

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Puente Hills Landfill Meeting

Much has happened this year on the mountain bike advocacy front. One of the biggest issues has been the start of the process to develop a Management Plan for our year-old San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The National Forest Foundation convened a Community Collaborative group to develop a broad base of support from a diverse range of stakeholders to help guide the Forest Service in its management of the Angeles National Forest and the SGMNM. CORBA has been involved from the start, in 2014 on the committee to establish the Collaborative, and this year as an active participant in the Collaborative. Forty-five diverse interests are represented, some of whom have traditionally found themselves at odds with our community. This has truly expanded our outreach and strengthened our place in the community.

We’re also continuing to work with Los Angeles County on several fronts: the Castaic Area Trail Master Plan, the Los Angeles County Trails Manual, the now-completed Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master plan, the LA County Park Needs assessment, the Altadena Crest Trail Restoration, the Puente Hills Landfill and bicycle access to trails in general.

This year we joined the Los Angeles Bike Park Collective. We have pending Bike Park proposals with Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles, City of Glendale, and Thousand Oaks. Fillmore Bike Park opened this past Spring.

We’re closely monitoring the development of the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Master Plan, which is expected to come out in draft form in 2016. We saw the Rim of the Valley Study completed. Legislation was introduced to create a new National Recreation Area, and expand our new National Monument. We’ve worked with legislators on a pending Wilderness bill, to ensure that it has minimum impact on mountain biking. We’re continuing to work with the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society to ensure that their efforts to protect our public lands do not impact our ability to enjoy them.

This year new e-bike legislation was introduced. Early drafts could have been interpreted to allow electric mountain bikes on non-motorized trails. We worked to clarify that this does not makes e-bike legal on trails. We’ll be watching the e-bike debate closely as they become more popular.

There’s a pending application to build a hotel on the DeAnza Trailhead. CORBA took the lead on asking the City of Calabasas to do a full EIR.

Outside the area, we’re keeping an eye on wilderness proposals in the Sierra Nevada mountains and BLM land swap proposals in the San Jacinto Mountains, both with the potential to close trails to bikes.

Trailwork

Bob Trailer at Ken Burton Trailhead

Bob Trailer at Ken Burton Trailhead

This year CORBA has been active in the Santa Monica Mountains, working in Point Mugu State Park to restore trails damaged by the Springs Fire. We worked on the New Millennium and De Anza trails. We’ve worked on the Backbone trail. Our Sawyer team has been cutting downed trees off trails all over the Angeles National Forest. We helped build two new trails in the Conejo Open Space.

Our two biggest trail restoration projects this year have been on Vetter Mountain trail in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and the Ken Burton trail in the Angeles National Forest. With generous financial support from REI, we helped restore the closed section of the Gabrielino trail, an ongoing project with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. These are the last three trails still closed to the public from the Station Fire.

Youth

CORBA Youth Adventures

CORBA Youth Adventures

About twice per month, CORBA’s Youth Adventures program took at-risk teens out on trail rides. Many of these kids have no or limited access to outdoor recreation. The experiences they gain by riding a bike on an interpretive ride through Malibu Creek State Park or Paramount Ranch can change lives. Our sensitivity to these kids’ privacy prevents us from posting pictures or reports, but hundreds of kids were able to experience nature this year that may not have otherwise had that chance. We put more than 100 kids on bikes at the Santa Monica Mountains RecFest.

20151024007-Santa Monica Mountains Rec Fest Corba Youth Adventures

Lance Biscoe, we thank you!

Lance Biscoe, long time MBU patroller and Youth Adventures volunteer retired this year. Almost singlehandedly, Lance has kept our fleet of Youth Adventures bikes in working order for the past decade. We truly appreciate his many years of service, and wish him all the best. The Mountain Bike Unit, a CORBA program that long ago outgrew us and is now managed by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, run the Youth Adventures trips for us. Without their dedication, our Santa Monica Mountains trails wouldn’t be as safe, and we wouldn’t have a youth program. We thank all the MBU for their ongoing efforts that fit so well with our mission.

We’ve also been honored and inspired to have several High School mountain bike teams join us for trailwork. Student-athletes from Calabasas, Newbury Park, Channel Islands, San Gabriel Valley, St. Francis, La Crescenta, and others committed time to help maintain the trails they ride and train on. We continue to be astonished and inspired by the new generation of mountain bikers coming through the ranks of High School Mountain Biking leagues across the country.

Education

Part of CORBA’s mission is education. We educate land managers on issues that affect mountain bikers. We educate mountain bikers on how to minimize impacts to trails and other trail users. We educate the public at large about what mountain biking really is. Red Bull’s amazing videos are entertaining and inspiring to us, but much of what we do is to show non-mountain bikers that Red Bull’s portrayal of mountain biking is not really representative of the sport or of our community as a whole.

Trail etiquette

Trail etiquette

To that end, we’ve been expanding our etiquette education efforts, with CORBA’s etiquette brochures now having been adopted by several agencies and organizations throughout Southern California. Equestrian groups, hiking groups and land managers alike have taken what we’ve done and helped spread the word. We’ve also continued and expanded our Bell Box program with the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

As mountain biking grows, equestrians are seeing fewer fellow equestrians on their traditional trails and more mountain bikers. This year we ran a pilot program to help equestrians get their horses more comfortable around bikes, and to help mountain bikers understand the challenges faced by equestrians on multiuse trails. In 2016 we’ll be expanding those efforts.

We also like to make sure that mountain bikers are safe, capable and confident on their bikes. CORBA’s free Mountain Bike Skills Clinics have continued unabated on the first Saturday of every month for more than twenty years. 2015 was another year with 12 successful free skills clinics, thanks to our great instructor and board member, Mark Langton. The next clinic is this Saturday, January 2nd.

Outreach and Recognition

Mike and Robin McGuire, Volunteers of the Year

Mike and Robin McGuire, Volunteers of the Year

Every year in the Los Angeles River Ranger District of the Angeles National Forest, registered volunteers nominate candidates for Volunteer of the Year. For the first time in ANF history, two mountain bikers were honored with the distinction of Volunteer of the Year. Mike and Robin McGuire, the power couple of Forest Service volunteerism and members of the Angeles Mountain Patrol, were given the award. MWBA did a great story on their accomplishments. They have been Forest Service volunteers for 28 years, and have been volunteering longer than most of the FS employees have been employed on the Angeles. They’ve been involved with CORBA since the early days, and the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association before that. Their recognition is very well-deserved!

Earlier in the year CORBA received a shoutout from Modern Hiker blog, recognizing our ongoing efforts to rebuild trails after the Station Fire. We had a story in Mountain Bike Action about our new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. I appeared in promotional videos by the National Forest Foundation about the Monument. The Radavist did a great story about our project to restore the Ken Burton trail. We have an upcoming story in Mountain Bike Action about fire impacts to trails. As CORBA’s President, I’m among the nominees for an award by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, to be announced soon. I’ve also made appearances on the KPFK Bike Talk podcast and radio show to help spread the word.

Girlz Gone Riding, led by CORBA board member Wendy Engleberg, is changing the mountain biking demographic by bringing more women into the sport. Her report says it all.

Clearly, mountain bikers have established themselves as important participants in the future of our trails and open space. CORBA has been at the forefront of this movement from the beginning.

2016

Next year will bring a number of issues to the forefront. The advocacy items mentioned previously will all continue into the coming year. We’ll continue working to bring Bike Skills Parks to Los Angeles. We’ll continue our educational efforts, and to be at the table when decisions are made that affect us or the trails we ride.

But there are many things we could be doing better. CORBA remains an all-volunteer organization, though it has become almost full-time for me as President. We could be doing a better job of marketing ourselves and reaching out. Given the number of mountain bikers in Los Angeles, we should be doing a better job of growing our membership. We could be doing a better job of fundraising, of communicating with our members and the mountain biking community at large. We should have a better web presence. Though we could be doing more, I’m proud of what we’ve done, proud of our volunteers and our members, and hope you are too.

Our sister chapter, the San Diego Mountain Bike Association, recently hired a part-time Executive Director, who is already having a great impact on their efforts. That next step is something we’re not ready to take just yet, but as the issues that face us continue to mount and grow, it may become necessary.

To do all these things we need to grow. We need your help, your continued support. You didn’t see a flurry of requests for end-of-year donations from us. You didn’t see a barrage of emails on specific causes. What you saw was a small but passionate crew of dedicated volunteers making a difference. We’d welcome more support, whether it’s in the form of donations: cash, gear, or, most importantly, your time and skills. The easiest way to support us is with your membership. Together we’ll continue to ensure that the greater Los Angeles area is a wonderful place to ride a mountain bike!

Happy new year!

Happy trails for 2016! – Steve Messer

 

 

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