Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Pedaling through a Pandemic

Monday, March 23rd, 2020
Cheney trail, one mile from the trailhead

Illegal overflow parking 1.1 miles from the Sunset Ridge trailhead yesterday.

These are unprecedented times. We’ve all been constantly bombarded with reminders to avoid social contacts, maintain social distancing, and shelter at home. Those orders came with the caveat that it’s OK to get outside and get exercise, as long as that can be done while maintaining appropriate social distances.

This past weekend was the first under the “Safer at Home” orders currently in effect for Los Angeles city and County.  I feel very much at home on a trail, as do most of you. The instructions to shelter at home and only leave for exercise or to provide or access essential services, sounded to me like an invitation and a perfect reason to hit a local trail. It sounded like an invitation to the entire community.

This led to some serious crowding on our local trails this past weekend.  It is impossible to maintain appropriate social distancing, which includes physically separating individuals by at least six feet, on a two-way trail less than four feet in width. Trails are social, and many groups were seen heading out together onto trails. Many trailhead and park parking lots were closed, but this didn’t stop people from parking outside established parking lots, often illegally, and accessing the trails anyway.

Since it seems the public are unable or unwilling to recreate in a way that maintains social distancing, we recommend avoiding all singletrack trails. In fact, as of Saturday, March 28, all trails in Los Angeles County are closed, with the exception of trails on federal land in the Angeles National Forest which remain open. The following official closures are now in effect (subject to change):

  • All organized club rides, races and events have been canceled.
  • Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy/MRCA have closed all their parks and trails to the public.
  • LA County has closed all County trails and parks to the public, including the Pinecrest gate access to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road.
  • La Canada Flintridge have closed all their trails, including Cherry Canyon.
  • City of Monrovia has closed the Hillside Wilderness Preserve and all trails.
  • State Parks have closed all park and trailhead parking lots and facilities such as bathrooms and visitor centers at Malibu Creek State Park, Topanga State Park, Will Rogers State Park, and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
  • The National Park Service has closed all park and trailhead parking lots and facilities such as bathrooms and visitor centers in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Soltice Canyon in Malibu is closed to all entry. NPS Trails will be closed from 2pm Fridays to 6am Mondays until further notice.
  • The Forest Service has closed all campgrounds, visitor centers and developed recreation sites, throughout Region 5 (California).
  • LA County DPW have closed Big Dalton Canyon Road, Glendora Mountain Road (north of Big Dalton Rd to East Fork Rd) and Glendora Ridge Road (Glendora Mountain Rd to Mt. Baldy Rd). These roads will remain closed until the emergency order is lifted.
  • City of Glendale has closed all park, trails and fire roads including the Catalina Verdugo trail and trails in Deukmejian Wilderness Park and the Verdugo Mountains.
  • The City of Los Angeles has closed all parks, trails, skate parks, and public amenities, including Griffith Park and all beaches.
  • The City of Palos Verdes has closed all parks, trails, and open spaces.
  • Conejo Open Space Conservation Authority has closed all parks, trails and open spaces in their jurisdiction.
  • The City of Pasadena has closed the Rose Bowl Loop
  • The Forest Service has closed many trails, campgrounds, trailheads and recreation facilities as listed on their forest order.

It isn’t just mountain biking trails that are affected. The City of Santa Monica and County of Los Angeles have closed all beach parking lots. Portions of the Marvin Braude Bike Path around Venice and Santa Monica have been closed. The Ballona Creek bikeway, and LA River Bikeway and other County bike paths have been closed. The Pacific Crest Trail Association has alerted all through-hikers to cancel their 2020 plans.

While we understand everyone’s need to get out and exercise, enjoy our cleaner air and reduced road traffic, your health and the health of everyone in our community takes priority.  If trails continue to be crowded, we can expect more trail and park closures, over and above the closures already in effect.  We strongly advise adhering to official guidance from State and County public health departments, and/or the land managers themselves, though it can be difficult to decipher:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://tinyurl.com/tllxvcc

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) https://tinyurl.com/uw57yjx

Ventura County Health Care Agency http://www.vchca.org/agency-divisions/public-health

Los Angeles County Public Health http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus

While it’s now recommended just to stay at home or ride the streets near your home, if you choose to ride any of the few trails still open, here are some general guidelines:

  • Stay home if you’re sick. Period. It goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway – if you’re sick, or you’ve been in contact with somebody who is, you need to stay home.
  • Only ride open trails from open trailheads.  Agencies are monitoring the crowds on trails, and some trails (including all Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy trails) are now closed to all users. If we can’t maintain social distancing on trails, expect more closures. Check with the agencies if you’re not sure.
  • Maintain your distance. AT ALL TIMES maintain the safe, responsible social distance we’ve all come to know – keep 2-3 bike lengths between riders, on the trail and off the trail.  Don’t fist bump, etc., rather stick to air-fives and sharing content online. Allow ample passing room for other trail users. Ride only with your housemates/family, or those with whom you already have close physical contact. 
  • Find a lesser-used used trailhead. People are heading out in record numbers.  If you’re fortunate enough to know of more remote, lesser-used trailheads, please plan your ride so that you start there. Refrain from driving to trailheads wherever possible.
  • Ride to your ride.  If you are able to ride to a trailhead, do so.  Keep the cars off the road, out of the gas stations, and away from congested areas.  Balance this with avoiding crowded trailheads.
  • Slow it down.  Now is not the time to push your riding skills.  The last thing you or the rest of the community wants right now is for a rider to wreck and end up in a hospital, adding more strain on our EMS system and taking up valuable resources.  Plus, you’ll also be able to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors for a longer period of time if you slow your roll.
  • Take care of business before heading out.  Many public restrooms are closed – make every effort to make sure nature doesn’t call while out on the trail.
  • No snot rockets.  We get it, and usually we accept it – but if you need to blow your nose, use a hanky.  If you do need to sneeze, do it into your elbow.
  • No sharing.  Now is not the time to share gear, food, drinks, or tools.  Sorry. If you have a mechanical issue, sanitize tools and gear before sharing and again before taking it back.
  • Protect yourself.  Bring a small “to go” packet of hand wipes, disinfectant spray, and maybe even some soap to use with your own water.  Hopefully you won’t need this, but just in case you do it’s better to have it than not.

With all this in mind, think before you ride, keep it local, and don’t put yourself or others at risk. All of this will pass, and we’ll be planning group rides and trailwork events again soon.

 

Edit: Updated 3/23/2020 at 3:00 pm to reflect additional road closures.
Updated 3/23/2020 at 8:00 pm to reflect Cherry Canyon closures.
Updated 3/25/2020 to reflect City of Glendale closures
Updated 3/27/2020 to reflect City of Los Angeles and Palos Verdes closures
Updated 3/28/2020 to reflect COSCA closures
Updated 4/3/2020 to reflect Forest Service and Big Dalton closures

 

 

 

 

 

San Gabriels Protection bill Passes House

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Last week four bills affecting California passed the House. H.R.3820, the “San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act”, and H.R.1708, the “Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act,” were rolled into a land protection bill with four other bills including H.R. 2250. the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, and the H.R.2199 Central Coast Heritage Protection Act–both of which have earned the support of local mountain biking organizations. Local mountain bike clubs and IMBA have been key players in the development of these bills. The combined bill, H.R. 2546, Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, passed the House on February 12, with 6 house republicans voting in favor.

San Gabriel Mountains, Foothills and Rivers Protection Act

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act

San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act Reference Map

Wilderness Expansion

Mountain Bikers descend from Condor Peak

Protest Riders descend from Condor Peak, December 2007

H.R.3820, introduced by Judy Chu (CA-27), expands the boundaries of existing federally-designated wilderness areas within the Angeles National Forest. The bill also creates two new Wilderness areas, the Yerba Buena Wilderness and Condor Peak Wilderness.

Condor peak has long been a target for wilderness protection by environmental groups. It is also one of the last long-distance, high-elevation singletrack trails providing access to a mountain summit that remains open to bikes. It was included in a bill by Barbara Boxer, as a new wilderness area. Jim Hasenauer, then working with IMBA, led a protest ride on the trail showing that it was a high-value trail to mountain bikers on December 1, 2007. It was withdrawn from the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, but has never been forgotten by environmentalists.

CORBA worked locally with The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and CalWild on the language and boundaries of the current bill for more than two years. Concurrently, IMBA worked at the national level and in Washington DC, to ensure that the proposed Wilderness areas would have no impact to existing trails open to mountain bikes.

Condor Peak trail is a steep, exposed and challenging backcountry trail.

For mountain bikers, Condor Peak trail was not up for negotiation. While we support protecting the character of the area, we wanted to ensure not only that bicycles could continue to access it, but also that mechanized maintenance (using chainsaws or other powered tools) would continue to be allowed. We’ve seen many trails that have been closed to bikes by Wilderness designations slowly deteriorate as volunteer groups cannot keep up with the existing trail maintenance backlog, and the Angeles National Forest has no trail crew of its own.

The solution we reached was to propose two Wilderness Areas on each side of the trail. The resulting legislation passed last week in the House creates the Yerba Buena and Condor Peak Wilderness areas, separated by a 100′ buffer through which the Condor Peak trail passes. Trail Canyon trail, the only other trail within the proposed Wilderness boundary, is cherry-stemmed out of the Wilderness allowing bicycle access to Trail Canyon falls and the nearby campground. A portion of the upper Trail Canyon trail, which has not been passable by bicycle in decades, will fall within the new wilderness boundary.

CORBA chose not to oppose this latest bill as it had no impact to mountain bike access. However, we could not support it fully, as it does nothing to enhance our mission of improving and increasing trail access for mountain bikes. We remain neutral on the bill, but if it passes, we will remain fully engaged in its implementation to further keep the interests of mountain bikers represented. 

There are two amendments being sought by CORBA and IMBA. Due to what appears to be a mapping error, three switchbacks along the Mt. Waterman trail dip a few dozen feet into the Wilderness area.  Though the Forest Service manages it as a non-wilderness trail, an amendment to the bill, by inserting “fifty feet south of the Mt. Waterman Trail” into the legal description of the wilderness area boundary, would correct that. 

Proposed Boundary Adjustment

Proposed Boundary Adjustment

The other amendment we are seeking is more challenging. The eastern Boundary of the Sheep Mountain wilderness passes directly over the summit of Mt San Antonio (AKA Mt. Baldy).  It is the only one of three peaks in Southern California over 10,000′ and above treeline to which bicycles have access (via the Devil’s Backbone trail). Wilderness advocates wanted to expand the Wilderness boundary eastward, entirely enveloping the Bear Creek trail in Wilderness.  The trail follows the Wilderness boundary, lying just inside the boundary by 25 yards. The trail would completes an incredibly challenging, high-elevation, backcountry loop. We are seeking an amendment to move the boundary 75′ west of the trail, removing it from wilderness, and opening the loop to bicycles. The boundary remains unchanged in the current legislation. 

These two amendments would remove approximately 75 acres of existing wilderness in a bill that adds over 31,000 acres of new Wilderness. These will be difficult asks for some, but we feel the ride loop this boundary adjustment would create a truly unique experience that is attainable nowhere else.

National Monument Expansion

The bill also expands the boundary of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, which was declared in October 2014. The boundary expansion makes sense geographically, as one of the biggest challenges in developing the current Monument management plan (as a Forest Management Plan Amendment) was the allocation of district-specific resources.

The Forest Service felt growing pains as they transitioned from three districts to one district and a National Monument (which is managed as a district). The Monument designation left out the most historically significant and most visited section of the Angeles National Forest, which includes the front country trails south and west of Mt. Wilson, and Mt. Lukens, and areas south of Big Tujunga. There was confusion among Forest Service staff when a vehicle, for example, was assigned to the district, but was stationed physically much closer to the Monument. It has taken years, but those challenges have been largely sorted out.

This time around, the bill requires the development of a management plan within three years (the plan amendment for the SGMNM took almost four years to complete). The current Monument designation had no impact to trail access for mountain bikes, and has brought in some additional funding and additional attention to our local mountains. In fact, IMBA and CORBA worked closely with the White House in 2014 to ensure that mountain biking was specifically mentioned in the monument proclamation ensuring its future acceptance. As a result, visitorship has steadily increased since the 2014 designation.

San Gabriel National Recreation Area

The third section of Chu’s bill will create a new National Park Service unit in the San Gabriel Valley. The San Gabriel National Recreation Area would become a new unit of the National Park service. It would comprise land along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and corridors along the San Gabriel, Rio Hondo, and other rivers and open spaces in the San Gabriel Valley.

The proposed NRA would not change any land ownership, nor restrict any current land owner from managing their land (and their trails) as they are already doing. It allows willing landowners or land managers within the NRA boundary to partner with the NPS to improve recreation, habitat connectivity, water quality, wildlife corridors and public access. It doesn’t change any existing trails, and has the potential to bring additional federal resources to local projects.

With all these aspects of the bill, our biggest concern is that the agencies managing lands the bills protect are not adequately funded at a level necessary to do their job effectively. Creating additional financial obligations by the Forest Service and National Park Service, when current budgets are falling short, will bring its own set of challenges.

H.R.3820 has a companion bill in the Senate, S.1109, introduced by Senator Kamala Harris. We will continue to work towards those amendments in the Senate version of the bill, which will face a tougher challenge under the current administration. If the bills fail this year, we expect them to be reintroduced in future sessions of congress.

A fact sheet from Judy Chu’s office can be found at https://chu.house.gov

Rim of the Valley Corridor Protection Act

H.R.1708 was introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff, after several years where similar legislation failed to make it out of committee. The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act will expand the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National recreation area. The expanded boundary will include the mountains surrounding the Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Simi, La Crescenta and Conejo valleys. These include the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills, the Verdugo Mountains, and other adjacent lands and river corridors as shown below.

Rim of the Valley Corridor Map

The act does not change the current management of any land or trails within the expanded boundary. What it will do is allow willing landowners or land managers to partner with the NPS on projects that may enhance recreational access, improve habitat and wildlife connectivity, or provide capital improvements. It does not take land away from any existing landowners, nor does it force existing land managers to partner with the National Park service in any way. It has no downsides for mountain biking, and has the potential to improve trail access.

CORBA’s original mission statement and our operational boundary was defined as “the Rim of the Valley Corridor.” This bill is therefore very much at the heart of CORBA’s mission.

The bill was the outcome of a six-year feasibility study, authorized by an act of Congress in 2008. The study began in 2010, with CORBA engaged throughout the six-year process, attending public meetings, providing expert testimony and public comments, and encouraging public discourse and engagement in the process.

The study sought to determine if the area possess nationally significant natural or cultural resources; whether it is it a suitable and unique addition to the National Park System; whether it is feasible to add it to the Park System; and does it require direct NPS management, instead of stewardship from other groups or a public-private combination? The answer to the first three questions was Yes. Since the study concluded in 2016, legislation has been introduced twice without success. Last week the bill passed the House. In December, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, moving it one step closer to the Senate floor.

We are fortunate in Southern California to have one of the most mountain bike friendly NPS units in the country, the Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Currently all National Park service managed singletrack trails in the Santa Monica Mountains are open to bicycles. In fact, the only trails closed to us are closed by the Boney Mountain State Wilderness, and California State Parks. We expect the NPS to continue supporting a multi-use trail policy in the expanded NRA. In fact, all of the land managers within the expanded boundary, with the exception of the City of Los Angeles, are multi-use friendly.

Lands within the Angeles National Forest are specifically excluded from the expanded NRA. The Forest Service and the National Park Service already have an arrangement in which they are able to share resources for the benefit of our public lands under the Service First authority, which was made permanent in 2012.

For these reasons we are supportive of the expanded boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains NRA in the current legislation. However, to our knowledge there is no additional budget allocated to the expanded NRA, nor to the new San Gabriel NRA in Chu’s bill. For these reasons we have been reluctant to throw our full support behind the bills as they can be considered unfunded (or underfunded) mandates. If these bills pass, we will advocate for increased funding, and will remain engaged with land managers in the development of their management plans, and to identify opportunities for creating or improving multi-use trails and mountain bike access.

The Rim of the Valley trail was originally envisioned by Marge Feinberg in the 1960s as a trail that encircles the San Fernando Valley, connecting communities with their local mountains. The trail itself is being piecemealed together as opportunities present themselves. The vision of a trail led to a broader vision to protect the mountains surrounding our valleys, and ultimately to H.R.1708. It has been a forty-year effort to protect the mountains that define our valleys.

A fact sheet on the bill can be found at https://schiff.house.gov

Filmed By Bike Festival in Los Angeles

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

This weekend the 3rd Annual Filmed by Bike Festival comes to Los Angeles. Hosted by the Bicycle Culture Institute, it will be held at the Boomtown Brewery on Sunday, February 9, from 3 – 9pm.

There will be craft beer, exhibitors, movies & an awesome raffle. The Filmed by Bike Adventure Shorts program features inspiring tales of adventure, struggle and triumph on the rugged road. The path to expedition isn’t always an easy, but nature and a wild sense of curiosity lure us away from our computers, desks and schedules to enter the great wide open. These incredible films will wow audiences with their gorgeous cinematography and compelling stories.

Tickets are available at Eventbrite or at the door. ONLINE Tickets Get 1 FREE Raffle Ticket!

Stop by and say hello to the exhibitors, including CORBA, MWBA, Girlz Gone Riding, Montenegro Manufacturing (MMFG), Dahon Bicycles, Around-the-Cycle, Bicycle Culture Institute (BCI), cicLAvia, Adrian’s Epic Tall Bikes, Cohen Law Partners and RoadRunner Bags. There will also be a special panel discussion about the California Mountain Biking Coalition (a new state-wide MTB advocacy org), with board member and CORBA President Steve Messer.

 

The California Mountain Biking Coalition

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

Beginning almost two years ago at the California Trails and Greenways Conference, CORBA President Steve Messer and advocates from around the state have been discussing the need for a statewide mountain bike advocacy organization. California is widely regarded as the birthplace of mountain biking. That also makes it the birthplace of mountain bike opposition, and of mountain bike advocacy.

For a time we had an IMBA representative, Tom Ward, who was a former California State Parks employee. He retired several years ago. Then we had an IMBA Regional Director, who was able to help coordinate advocacy efforts and peer learning opportunities with clubs from around the state. That position went away three years ago when IMBA ended their chapter program.

There has never been a dedicated regional organization to speak up for mountain bikers in Sacramento, or at the regional headquarters of the Forest Service, California State Parks, and other land managers.

Those discussions led us to form the California Mountain Biking Coalition (CAMTB), which had a soft launch in October 2019, when we received our Federal nonprofit EIN. We’re still waiting for our nonprofit determination letter, which will complete the formation of the organization.

The California Mountain Biking Coalition’s mission is to Improve and increase trail access for mountain biking throughout California by providing a unified statewide voice for organizations and individuals.

CAMTB is being organized to support and coordinate existing advocacy efforts from around the state, as reflected in the mission statement. The organization aims to help all California mountain biking clubs be more successful, and to advocate for legislation, ballot measures, regulations and best practices in recreation and natural resource management, with the goal of increasing mountain biking opportunities.

CORBA is proud to have been at the forefront of building this nascent organization. The new organization’s board of directors is comprised of successful California nonprofit advocacy group leaders, including the San Diego Mountain Bike Association, Access4Bikes Marin, Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance, San Francisco Urban Riders, and of course CORBA.

The new organization is a 501c4 nonprofit, which gives us more freedom to engage politically. A 501c4 can directly lobby for legislation, election candidates, ballot measures, and other activities that might threaten the status of a 501c3. The caveat is that donations to a 501c4 are not tax-deductible.

CAMTB already has a lot on its plate. The group is currently raising funds through a founders round donation drive, corporate sponsorships, and other donations. We are having discussions with industry representatives around sponsorship and fundraising.

The board has contracted with an organizational consultant with a record of success in growing a mountain biking organization. Austin McInerny, former executive director of the National Interscholastic Cycling League, facilitated an all-day strategic planning session with the board’s first in-person meeting this week.

As we enter a new decade, we’re looking forward to taking on issues at a statewide level. Many California mountain bike advocacy groups are facing the same challenges with the same disappointing outcomes with California State Parks. By working in Sacramento, we hope to bring about change from the top down to benefit all California mountain bikers. That will take time, funding, and a lot of boots on the ground advocacy. We’re prepared to walk the halls of Sacramento, and to work directly with legislators and other advocates.

CAMTB is gearing up to take on those challenges. We’re not here to replace or supplant any existing advocacy groups, but instead to help strengthen them through resource and knowledge sharing, peer learning, and facilitated discussions.

If you’re heading to Sea Otter this year, stop by the CAMTB booth to say hi, and to learn about all that we’re working on.

 

 

Happy New Decade! A 20-Teens Retrospective

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

CORBA has a lot to be proud of this last ten years. It feels like the twenty-teens was the decade in which mountain biking really came of age. The sport has grown and we’ve seen tremendous changes and challenges. Mountain bikers are no longer a newcomer to the trails, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

There’s no denying the explosive growth of mountain biking last decade. We’ve all seen more people on trails, and more of them on bikes than ever before. I’ve met more riders with less than five years experience than in any five-year period before the last. Conversely, we’ve seen relatively few new trails constructed in that time. The trail supply is not keeping up with the demand here in Southern California. The agencies and volunteers can’t keep up with maintenance of the supply we already have. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed in ten years, and has gotten worse with agency budget cuts and increasingly severe weather. It’s why we ask you to come out and give a morning back to the trails once or twice a year. You’ll appreciate them so much more after a morning of trailwork.

Let’s take a long look back at what has changed and been accomplished last decade.

(more…)

California Bike-Themed License Plates

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

 

You can now order a specialty California license plate with a bicycle theme. The money raised by this license plate will provide grants for bicycle education and advocacy to community organizations at the state and local level.

For years, our friends at CalBike have worked to get California to join the 24 states that have a bicycle specialty license plate program. The new California program allows every car owner to pay extra for a special license plate that shows their support of bicycling. The plate also raises money to support bicycling.

CalBike has been working very closely with California Department of Public Health to design the plate and the program. The DMV has now approved the plate and is taking reservations at https://calbikeplate.com.

The bicycle specialty license plate costs $50. A personalized bicycle license plate costs $103.

The proceeds of the license plate will support education and advocacy to promote bicycling as healthy transportation. For example, grants could support earn-a-bike programs for at-risk youth, community education programs about the importance of bicycling, and share the road education for car drivers and cyclists. CalBike will remain involved as the program develops to make sure the funding supports powerful, effective programs that also lead to social change.

The DPH has to receive 7,500 orders by September 2020, or the DMV won’t issue this plate. Once the 7,500 pre-order threshold is met, the DMV will begin to promote this license plate and will continue to offer it to motorists.

The sooner you place your order, the greater our chances of being able to activate this important funding source for bicycle education.

Schwarzenegger proposal to help narrow Calif.’s huge deficit would close 220 state parks

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

By SAMANTHA YOUNG , Associated Press (reported in the Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune)

Local parks slated for closure include

The California State Parks Foundation has compiled a complete list of parks proposed to be closed.

What you can do to help prevent closure of our parks

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts could mean the closing of up to 220 state parks, among them the home of the world’s tallest tree and other attractions that draw millions of visitors. Schwarzenegger this week recommended eliminating $70 million in parks spending through June 30, 2010. An additional $143.4 million would be saved in the following fiscal year by keeping the parks closed.

“This is a worst-case scenario,” said Roy Sterns, a spokesman at the state parks department. “If we can do less than this, we will try. But under the present proposal, this is it.”

Among the parks that could be closed, the parks department said Thursday, are Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, Will Rogers’ Southern California ranch and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which boasts the world’s tallest tree, a giant that tops 370 feet. Even the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento is on the list.

The Legislature last year rejected the governor’s proposal to close 48 state parks. But lawmakers said that with California’s budget deficit now at $24.3 billion, the situation is so dire that it is likely some parks will close.

“Things that were previously dead on arrival are a lot more viable in a crisis like this,” said Democrat Jared Huffman, chairman of the Assembly’s parks and wildlife committee. “I think some cuts are coming to the parks, and they’ll be cuts I won’t like and the public won’t like.”

The state parks department said a $70 million cut would leave it with enough money to run just 59 of California’s 279 state parks.

The state’s famed park system attracts nearly 80 million visitors a year. William Randolph Hearst’s Castle on the Central Coast and a dozen other so-called moneymakers would remain open, as would many Southern California beaches that attract millions of visitors year round.

But others that could close include: Fort Ross State Historic Park, the southernmost Russian settlement in North America; Bodie State Historic Park, one of the best-preserved Old West ghost towns; and Big Basin Redwoods, the oldest state park.

The proposal has angered conservationists and some Democrats in the Legislature, who say California’s parks are treasured spots that help the state and local economy.

“State parks draw tourism to California,” State Parks Foundation president Elizabeth Goldstein said. “This proposal makes the budget situation worse.”

The foundation estimates the state gets a $2.35 return for every dollar it spends on parks.

California spends roughly $400 million a year running 279 state parks and beaches, with roughly a third of the money coming from the state general fund. The rest comes from user fees, which account for slightly more than a quarter of the revenue; bond funds; gasoline taxes; federal money; and other sources.

Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines said the state cannot afford to subsidize state parks when lawmakers are being asked to make severe cuts in even more vital areas.

“Parks are just not going to be a priority over public safety and education, as much as we hate to see them close,” Villines said.

At least 2,000 park rangers, biologists, lifeguards, interpreters, architects and maintenance workers would be laid off if the proposal is adopted, said Sterns, the parks spokesman.

The layoffs would be in addition to 5,000 state positions the governor has already recommended cutting.

“When you cut that much, you have to let go highly trained teams of biologists that you can’t get back in a year or two,” Huffman said. “It’s a myth to think you can mothball the entire system. These cuts will cripple the park system for a decade or more.”

High School Cycling Gives Thanks

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

November 25, 2009

BERKELEY, Calif. The NorCal and SoCal High School Cycling Leagues combined raised over $100,000 at their annual CycleFest fundraisers. The SoCal League almost doubled its attendance over 2008.

Matt Fritzinger, founder of the NorCal League, said “We are very thankful for having had two highly successful CycleFest events this year. The funds raised will help these leagues keep pace with the enormous growth that is expected for the 2010 season.”

The NorCal CycleFest, which featured Jonathan Vaughters of the Garmin Cycling Team, was generously supported by a long list of silent auction donors and sponsors. Heading this list are Specialized Bicycle Components, Fox Racing Shox, GU Sports, Ritchey Logic, NCNCA, Mountain Hardwear, Syncros, Mike’s Bikes, Clif Bar, Marin Cyclists, and McGuire Real Estate. The weekend’s festivities, comprising a cocktail reception, gala dinner, and 50-mile CHP-supported ride, raised a total of more than $60,000 and were attended by 400 people.

The SoCal Interscholastic Cycling League enjoyed a massive boost in attendance over its first-year fundraiser in 2008. Bob Roll entertained 150 diners aboard the Queen Mary luxury ocean liner, moored at Long Beach. Many companies contributed to the dinner and silent auction, including Kaiser Federal Bank, Team Sho-Air, Specialized Bicycle Components, SoCal Endurance, Turner Bikes, Stan’s Monrovia Cyclery, Mellow Johnny’s, PAA Cycling Club, and Team Kareen. A total of $40,000 was raised.

SoCal Director Matt Gunnell said, “I am inspired that in these difficult times so many people came out to support the growth and sustainability of the SoCal League. We had 85 people at our inaugural event in 2008 and 150 in 2009. With this type of support I see a strong future for the League.”

The emerging Colorado High School Cycling League will have its inaugural CycleFest dinner in Denver, on April 24th, 2010.

Contact: Matt Gunnell, matt@socaldirt.org

SoCal Interscholastic Cycling League Launched with Backing from Easton Sports Development Foundation II

Friday, August 29th, 2008

August 29, 2008

OAKLAND , CA – The Northern California High School Mountain Bike Racing League (NorCal League) will launch the Southern California Interscholastic Cycling League (SoCal League) in the 2009 academic year with grant support from the Easton Sports Development Foundation II.

The new league is based on the successful model of the NorCal League, now in its eighth year, which currently has reached a membership of over 400 high schoolers, 150 coaches, and 35 schools from within the region. Matt Fritzinger, Executive Director of both the NorCal and SoCal leagues, said, “We are tremendously grateful for the generosity of Mr. Easton and his foundation. The grant allows us to launch a new league, and that has been a dream of ours for several years. With the SoCal League, we’ll be fostering the same values of life-long physical fitness, community, and self-confidence combined with athletic competition that has been so successful in Northern California.”

The NorCal League has developed methods and curriculum for introducing young riders to the world of mountain bike racing, as well as recruiting and training coaches that are committed to producing amateur athletes who are gracious in both victory and defeat, and are respectful of their environment and community. The SoCal League is one of the first few recipients of an ESDF II grant in part because of the proposal’s emphasis on coaching, community, and making cycling a main-stream high school sport. Fritzinger said, “We know that good coaching means working closely with families, and helping athletes create a balanced life perspective. We aim to take the SoCal high school mountain bike teams in the same direction as we have in Northern California working to make cycling as important as baseball, football and soccer in the fabric of our high schools.”

For information about the SoCal League visit www.socaldirt.org and visit their booth at CORBA’s Fat Tire Fest on October 12, 2008. Also, visit CORBA’s SoCal League web page.

Urge California Decision Makers to Adopt Bike-Friendly Land Protection Measures

Friday, June 27th, 2008

June 27, 2008

From the International Mountain Bicycling Association

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources recently passed a bill — authored by Assembly member Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus — that directs the state to assess the suitability of numerous state lands in Northern California for Wilderness designations.

Bicyclists value natural landscapes and access to trails that bring us closer to nature. Because our activity is a quiet, low-impact and human-powered use that is compatible with wild settings, we believe many of these Northern California areas should not be protected with Wilderness designations, which would effectively prohibit bike access.

IMBA California Policy Advisor Tom Ward has testified in front of the committee and many members expressed their support for mountain biking — but they still passed the bill out of committee. Unless they hear from the mountain bike community, the bill will keep moving and suggest massive closures at three important parks.

There are many ways to protect these important places without banning the existing use of mountain bicycling. Cyclists need to rally and make sure their assembly member hears from our constituency.

Take Action!

IMBA’s simple online comment form takes seconds to complete! Tell the governor and your state senator and representative you support land protection that allows bicycling to continue.

A quick phone call can be even more effective. Click here to find contact information for your elected officials.

Please also forward this alert to all mountain bikers, bike shops and industry employees you know.

Additional Information

Assembly Bill (AB) 2923 passed from committee with a 6-2 vote and awaits further review in the Assembly Appropriations Committee

Sponsored by the California Wilderness Coalition, the bill directs the Resources Agency and the State Lands Commission to assess whether selected state lands merit wilderness designation.

Mountain biking is an existing use in several of these areas, including Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and Henry W. Coe State Park.

Mountain bikers also have a long-standing proposal to create shared-use trails in Austin Creek Redwoods State Park.

Because Wilderness designations would prohibit bike access in these parks, we urge that these areas should be protected through other means.

IMBA California’s Tom Ward is meeting with key Senate staffers and will keep the pressure up to ensure that mountain bike access is protected.