Archive for the ‘San Gabriel Mountains’ Category

Trail Users Celebrate: The Gabrielino National Recreation Trail is Back!

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Station Fire trail restoration has been a major focus of CORBA’s for the past nine years. On August 26, 2009, CORBA volunteers were headed out for routine volunteer trail maintenance in the Angeles National Forest.  “As I approached our trail work site, I could see a plume of smoke coming from the Arroyo Seco canyon,” said Steve Messer, then a trail work volunteer and now President of CORBA. “We canceled the trail work and watched helplessly as the forest burned for six more weeks.”

Nine years later, almost to the day, mountain biking volunteers have completed restoration of the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail through the Arroyo Seco canyon. This popular section was one of the most heavily damaged by the El Niño rains that flash-flooded the ashen canyon after the Station Fire, taking with it huge sections of the trail and forest. With the extreme damage, this was to be our most ambitious project and the final trail restoration effort from the 2009 Station Fire.

With the area completely closed to the public for more than seven years following the fire, the trail was choked off. Hundreds of burned trees had fallen across the trail and several retaining walls had failed. When people began venturing into the area, in many places there was no trail, so people began using the stream bed.

February 2016 hike-through and assessment

In February 2016, Messer hiked the Arroyo Seco section of the Gabrielino Trail with Forest Service officials and others to do an assessment and begin plans to restore the trail. It was an arduous journey, climbing over and under downed trees and thick brush, scrambling across debris fields where there was once a trail, and precariously shimmying along what used to be the trail tread.

After lengthy environmental reviews, the restoration project began in earnest in late 2017. Six volunteer chainsaw operators worked for two days to get the trail corridor opened enough to begin tread work. Downed trees were a constant challenge, and several sections required extensive additional chainsawing through log-jams. It took dozens of bob trailer-runs to get tools in place. Volunteers faced round-trip rides or hikes of ten to twelve miles to get to and from the work site. Some sections of the trail were restored that had failed long before the Station Fire.

The Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA) led monthly volunteer work days on the trail from November to July. Several volunteer work days were sponsored by local bike shops including Incycle, Pasadena Cyclery, Golden Saddle Cyclery and Montrose Cyclery. There was so much enthusiasm for the project that a few days there were more volunteers than tools.

Generous grants from REI and Southern California Edison enabled CORBA to hire professional trail builders, Bellfree Contractors, to complete some of the more technical work. By far, the majority of the work was done by 102 dedicated volunteers on 283 volunteer days. The 1,900 volunteer hours equates to over $60,000 in value to the Forest Service.

The final work was completed this week with the trail restored to its original alignment. Trail Closed signs had been in place at either end of the canyon since 2009. The signs were taken down this week.

(more…)

Brown Mountain Bench Seating Project

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Today, Saturday July 21, 2018, Eagle Scout candidate Nick Sercel from Troop 502 in La Canada installed three bench seats at the highly-popular Brown Mountain Saddle. Brown Mountain Saddle (it’s local name) is the high point of the Brown/Prieto loop, or a stopover on the Brown/Ken Burton loop, and is extremely popular stop.

There’s a definite need for something permant and safer to sit on! (April 2018)

In 2015, CORBA volunteers removed a downed tree from the Upper Brown Mountain fire road, not far above the saddle. The 20+ inch diameter tree was cut into 18 inch tall rounds, which we rolled down to the saddle. For the last three years those log rounds have been put to good use as a comfortable place to stop, take the weight off and enjoy the view. Now those log rounds are rotting, yet as recently as last month, people will find a piece that rotten wood to prop up and sit on.

To us, this demonstrated the demand for seating at the saddle, and how popular it would be. Informal polls confirmed the public support. CORBA submitted a proposal to the Forest Service for simple bench seating, which was approved a few weeks ago after a review by Forest Service staff. With the green light from the Forest Service, Nick Sercel contacted CORBA President Steve Messer to offer his services to construct and install the bench seats on CORBA’s behalf.

Nick was no stranger to CORBA. In 2010, CORBA helped coordinate the restoration of the Doc Larsen trail in Lakeview Terrace as a two-weekend eagle scout project with Nick’s older brother Chris Sercel, then a member of the St. Francis Knights high school mountain biking team. In fact, Chris’ project in 2010 was one of the early inspirations for NICA’s Teen Trail Corps program. Nick was there in 201o wielding a McLeod on the Doc Larsen

Hiking in the materials

Hiking in the materials

trail. Chris reciprocated today helping haul wood, and dig holes. CORBA was happy and honored to help facilitate both their Eagle Scout projects (though a little saddened that Doc Larsen trail burned again last year in the Creek Fire and is closed once again).

 

Nick spent a few weeks of prep work, planning, scouting the site and comparing similar bench seating in other Forest Service locations. Last weekend, he held a volunteer work day at his family home, cutting, drilling, and assembling the bench seats. With Forest Sevice-supplied paint, the benches were pre-painted before being installed today.

Sixteen volunteers, Nick’s friends, family and fellow scouts, and CORBA/MWBA volunteers Erik Hillard (MWBA), and Mike and Robin McGuire got the job done today, Saturday, July 21, 2018. We met at Millard, had a safety briefing, then consolidated into a few vehicles and drove up the fire road from Millard as far we could. From there, the scouts hiked in carrying the pre-painted, drilled and cut, pressure-treated lumber for the bench seats, while Steve Messer and Erik hauled all the tools on Bob Trailers (made possible by the Robert Axle Project’s custom bob-trailer compatible through axles). Special recognition is deserved by Nick’s parents, who hauled up a cooler with lunch for everyone!

After an hour trek/ride to the site, we began digging. Three benches required six holes about 3′ deep through hardened, packed dirt.  Minutes after we finished the first bench seat, a crew of locals who have ridden here for more than three decades immediately put the first seat to the test as they rested before their return descent. They were surprised and very appreciative! We expect these benches to see a lot of use. Two are placed to enjoy the view, while the third is placed by the trail sign where it sees afternoon shade.

 

 

Ready to install

 

Checking for height and level

 

Nick Sercel (seated) and crew admire the first bench seat installed brown mountain saddle

Eagle Scout Candidate Nick Sercel (seated) and his crew admire the first bench seat completed

 

All three benches were installed by 1 pm, well ahead of our scheduled finish. A hearty lunch was served, in time for everyone to enjoy lunch while seated on the new benches!

The crew enjoys lunch on the benches they installed!

It was a highly successful day! Despite the 90 degree weather, we completed the project. We thank Nick’s friends and family, Troop 502 from La Canada for their efforts to make these much-needed seating a reality. And of course a special thanks and kudos go to Nick Sercel for orchestrating the project. Dozens of mountain bikers came through the saddle as we were working, and everyone was excited and appreciative of this simple improvement to a popular stopping point for hikers, bikers and equestrians.

Next time you do the Brown/Prieto loop (one of the most popular and accessible MTB rides in the Angeles National Forest), take a break, enjoy the view and the breeze, and give thanks to Nick Sercel, the Boy Scouts, CORBA and MWBA for continuing to support trails and mountain biking!

 

Erik (MWBA Trail Boss), Steve (Corba President) and Eagle Scout Candidate Nick Sercel

 

Two of the three bench seats installed

 

The third bench, shaded in the afternoons, or out of the wind.

More photos can be found at https://photos.corbamtb.com

 

LA Times Reports on Gabrielino Trail Restoration

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

At the last volunteer work day on the Gabrielino Trail, we were delighted to have Louis Sahagun, reporter for the LA Times and a photographer join us. They were there to cover the restoration efforts undertaken by CORBA and MWBA on the Angeles National Forest.

Quoted in the story are Erik Hillard and Matt Baffert of the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, and Steve Messer of CORBA. The article covers efforts by mountain bikers to open the Gabrielino Trail from Redbox to JPL, but doesn’t mention the continuing efforts by the Boy Scouts, the Sierra Club, and the Angeles Crest 100 volunteers who have worked on the trail east of Redbox.

We appreciate the news coverage! Read it on the LA Times web site, or in the March 2nd 2018 print edition.  http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-gabrielino-trail-20180502-story.html.

We also have a PDF version.

 

2018 Angeles National Forest Trail Stewardship Summit Report

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

This past weekend we had an amazing four days at the 2018 Angeles National Forest Trail Stewardship Summit. In the days prior to the summit, we showed some of our trails, our previous trailwork, and our current Gabrielino trail restoration project to Regional forest service staff, and trail construction experts.

The Angeles National Forest was selected as one of fifteen priority sites for trail maintenance under the National Forest Trail Stewardship Act of 2016. As a priority site, the goal is to double the number of trail miles maintained on the Angeles.

We held a series of discussions with Forest Service Region 5 about our trail system and Station Fire recovery efforts. CORBA has received $35,000 in grants from REI and Southern California Edison, for the Gabrielino Trail restoration. CORBA and MWBA’s awesome volunteers have contributed over 2500 hours of volunteer labor at a value of over $56,000.

Some great news has come out of the summit. Using the above contributions as a match, the regional office of the Forest Service has allocated $100,000 to restore and improve the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. We’re in the process of writing up a formal cost-share partnership agreement with the Forest Service to manage that investment into our local trails.

At the summit, partners, volunteers and Forest Service staff brainstormed on how to remove bottlenecks to getting things done. We discussed how to make it easier for volunteers to do the necessary paperwork by moving to an online system, minimizing shuffling paper and lengthy email chains. We talked about how to get better information on trails and their conditions for the public, as well as how to better coordinate efforts between volunteer groups. Good things are in the works and potential solutions to both of these shortfalls are being explored right now.

CORBA President Steve Messer spoke about the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative (video here), and on how volunteers and NGO’s like  CORBA and MWBA, and the partnerships we have with the Forest Service are a vital component of sustainability of our trails (video here).  Other presentations from LA County, Equestrian trail patroller, Jim Lesh, IMBA Trail Solutions, MWBA, and regional Forest Service Trails Coordinator Garrett Villanueva helped guide the breakout sessions exploring how to achieve some of these goals.

We then spent two days learning about and refining our trail maintenance skills on Sunset Ridge Trail, where volunteers and trail crew leaders learned updated techniques to managing water on trails, minimizing erosion, and decreasing future maintenance needs. We learned from some of the most knowledgeable trailbuilders from IMBA Trail Solutions and the Forest Service. Sunset Ridge trail received some treatments to help improve water control.

It was an extremely positive summit with lots of productive exchange and a path to move forward. We thank the Forest Service and their Regional staff, IMBA Trail Solutions, MWBA, the National Forest Foundation, and all the other volunteers and partners from around the region who participated.

 

Trailbuilding Workshop – Save the Date: April 6-8, 2018

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

 

Learn how to build and maintain trails

The Forest Service, in partnership with CORBA, the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association, IMBA, and the National Forest Foundation will hold a three-day trail workshop.

The agenda is still being finalized, and official invitations and announcements will go out in the coming week, but you can save the dates of April 6, 7 and 8, April 2018. Details will be included with the Forest Service official announcement.

 

Friday, April 6, will be an all-day classroom session at the Altadena Community Center. This day will cover the assessment, management and planning of trails, and will be of most use to those advocating for trails, planning to build trails or land and trail managers.

Saturday April 7 will see a morning classroom session, followed by Saturday afternoon in the field, then a full day of hands-on on Sunday April 8.

There is no charge for the workshop and lunch will be provided. If you’d like to attend contact us and we’ll let you know when registration opens.

Gabrielino Trail Restoration Update

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

CORBA has been working behind the scenes on restoring the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail. The Gabrielino is the last trail still closed because of damage due to the Station Fire. It’s been an ongoing effort since 2011 to open up sections of the trail and then keep them clear of downed trees.

In early 2015 the Los Angeles Conservation Corps worked with Bellfree Contractors to rebuild the Gabrielino from Paul Little to Oakwilde Campground. CORBA helped fund that effort with a generous grant from REI. We subsequently concentrated on the Ken Burton trail, a project that rallied volunteers in an intensive 8-months of bi-monthly work days.

Searching for the trail in February 2016

Only the section from Oakwilde to the junction with Bear Canyon trail remains closed to public use. CORBA has been awarded grants from both REI and Edison International to help fund the restoration of this section. Those funds support volunteers, buy tools and materials and will pay for professional services to improve the sustainability of the trail and reduce future maintenance needs. We are grateful for their support.

The trail was littered with downed trees in 2016

In early 2016 we did a hike-through inspection of the trail with Forest Service staff, Bellfree Contractors, Los Angeles Conservation Corps and Boy Scout volunteers. The arduous journey involved climbing over and under dozens and dozens of downed trees, searching for remnants of trail where it had been washed away, and dodging and ducking heavy brush. Sections of the trail were completely gone, the only route was to hike along the streambed, which was also covered in downed trees.

After more than a year of internal Forest Service review, the go-ahead was given to us by District Ranger Bob Blount last summer. Sadly, Ranger Bob passed away last week and won’t see this trail completed. He was especially excited for us to be working on this trail and bringing it back to its earlier glory. We hope to finish the project by summer in his honor.

After months of extreme fire danger (meaning no chainsaw use), last fall CORBA and MWBA volunteer sawyers spent six solid days wielding chainsaws to cut through the deadfall along the trail.

With the corridor opened up, MWBA have devoted their monthly trailwork day to the project since December. In three work days the volunteer crews have worked on just over two miles of the trail.

There is so much enthusiasm for getting this trail restored and opened that there have been more volunteers that tools for the last two days. The volunteer effort has been astounding, with more than 40 volunteers signed up each day. Some sections that have been worked on are now in better shape than before the Station Fire. But there is still much to do.

So far, over 50 individual volunteers have devoted more than 1000 hours to the restoration effort.

 

A recently restored section

This is truly a team effort, with the Angeles Forest 50k Run trail crew having worked on another section of the Gabrielino near Switzers; the Sierra Club have been working on the section around Devore camp; and previous work was done by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the Boy Scouts on other sections.

Thanks to all the volunteers who have contributed to this restoration effort. Special thanks to our partners at the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association for organizing group work days and REI and Edison International for their financial support.

There is still more to do. The trail is not officially open to the public, but we hope to change that soon.. Watch for upcoming announcements for March and April volunteer work days from MWBA, or CORBA’s Meetup group.

Getting in The Holiday Spirit: Giving back to trails

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Building a berm on a trailside bike feature

This past weekend the holidays seemed to come into full swing, and there was a lot of giving. On Saturday morning, members of our Sapwi Bike park committee gave their time building the first trailside feature at Sapwi Bike Park. Contractors have cleared and graded the bike park area, and the final bike park plan from FlowRide Concepts is close to completion. Lots of people have given to our IMBA Dig In campaign now standing at $1900, in addition to the generous grant of $15,000 from REI. We need to raise close to $100,000 so there’s a long way to go. Keep the donations coming!

Also on Saturday, former CORBA Chair and current volunteer Mark Langton was conducting our monthly Free Basic Mountain Bike Skills Clinic. Mark has been teaching new mountain bikers the basics of bike handling, safety and etiquette for more than 20 years. Eight riders attended the last skills clinic of the year.

 

(more…)

Public Meetings Dec 5: Rosemead Blvd and East Fork San Gabriel Canyon

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

On Tuesday, December 5th there are two conflicting public meetings of interest to those who ride bicycles in the San Gabriel Mountains or the San Gabriel Valley.

San Gabriel River Confluence with Cattle Canyon Improvements Project

The other public meeting is to seek public input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the San Gabriel River Confluence with Cattle Canyon Improvements Project. CORBA, through our involvement with the San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative, have expressed our full support for the project as proposed.

Click to Enlarge

This project will add much-needed trailhead improvements, interpretive and scenic trails, parking, bike racks, shuttle stops, multilingual signage, river access points and habitat restoration to this heavily-impacted area of the Forest. While not heavily used by mountain bikers, all of us who care about our Forest are supportive of these improvements.

The project is within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, and is being developed in partnership with the Watershed Conservation Authority. The meeting will be held at the Angeles National Forest headquarters:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Angeles National Forest Headquarters
701 N Santa Anita Ave,
Arcadia, California 91006

Comments must be submitted by December 26, 2017, to:

EFSGR/Cattle Canyon Improvements Project
110 N. Wabash Ave.
Glendora, California 91741

or via email to: EFSGR@wca.ca.gov

 

LA County Rosemead Blvd Complete Streets Project

LA County’s Rosemead Blvd Complete Streets project proposes to add bike lanes, pedestrian walkways and other improvements to Rosemead Blvd through the Whittier Narrows area. This is the initial scoping meeting, where the County will be seeking public input on how to best improve this six-lane stretch of road to better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. The meeting will be held at the More information can be found at:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Pico Rivera Municipal Golf Course,
3260 Fairway Dr.,
Pico Rivera, CA 90660.

http://dpw.lacounty.gov/pdd/proj/rosemeadcs/

This project will have great value to our community, as it will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists accessing the Whittier BMX track, Whittier Narrows recreation area, and existing bike paths along the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo. It is also close to the proposed Puente Hills Landfill, with its two planned and approved Bike Skills Parks.

We can’t be at both meetings, but want to encourage those with an interest in either to attend these meetings and be engaged in the process.

Public Lands Update

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

This year we have seen legislation introduced to further protect and enhance our local open spaces and public lands.

HR3039, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Act. Judy Chu introduced this bill in June. The bill would establish two new units of Wilderness within the Angeles National Forest. CORBA worked for two years with wilderness advocates to ensure these newly-proposed designations would not impact trails used by mountain bikers. The bill establishes the Condor Peak Wilderness and Yerba Buena Wilderness units, separated by the Condor Peak Trail. Condor Peak trail and Trail Canyon trail to the waterfall and campground would remain open to bicycles under this new designation.

Rim of the Valley

Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, S1993/HR4086.

This bill by Adam Schiff/Diane Feinstein would expand the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include open spaces around the Conejo, Simi, San Fernando, La Crescenta and Verdugo valleys. It does not change any land ownership or management but allows the National Park Service to partner with current land managers to improve habitat, wildlife corridors, and recreational opportunities. It puts into action the findings of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Study. It does not impact bicycle access to trails and could improve recreational opportunities.

H.R. 2323: San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act. This act introduced by Judy Chu would establish the San Gabriel National Recreation Area as a unit of the National Park System. The NRA would cover river corridors and open spaces from the Angeles National Forest border through the San Gabriel Valley. It does not create any new federally-managed public land. It would allow the National Park Service to partner with existing land managers to improve habitat, biodiversity, and recreational access. It would also expand the boundary of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include areas of the Angeles Front Country that are currently outside the Monument.

While these bills have been introduced, it remains to be seen whether they will make it out of their respective committees.

CORBA’s mission includes the protection of the places we play. Nationally, as the current administration proposes major changes to environmental regulations, national monument boundaries (our San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is not expected to be a target of boundary reductions), forest management practices, permitted uses, we stand ready to speak up for our local public lands and the recreational opportunities they provide and we all cherish.

SGM Collaborative Recognized by Congresswoman Chu

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

On Saturday, July 29, 2017, a representative group of the San Gabriel Mountain Community Collaborative were on hand at Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Congressional Leadership Awards.  The Collaborative was honored with the “Building Bridges” award. CORBA President Steve Messer has served on the Collaborative since its initiation and formation committee, with MWBA President Jenny Johnson as his alternate bike/trails and recreation representative.  Together, we are the voice on the collaborative representing Mountain Biking, trails, and recreation, as one of 45 interest groups and stakeholder members. Steve also serves on the Steering Committee and is chair of both the Projects Committee and newly formed Trails/Recreation Ad-Hoc committee.

This is a truly appropriate award, as one of the Collaborative’s big successes has been to build bridges between National Monument supporters and opponents, environmentalists and recreationists, disparate interests and stakeholders, and to help build a bridge between the Forest Service and the public.  The collaborative has strived for consensus towards a common goal and has truly grown into a passionate Community of individuals and organizational representatives, with the shared goal of helping better communicating the needs of stakeholders and the public to the Forest Service in the management of our public lands.

Together, the Collaborative members have come to a deeper appreciation and understanding of each other’s perspectives and the diversity of needs, challenges, and opportunities facing our National Monument and the community of forest visitors, volunteers, permittees, and others who depend on and cherish these special mountains.

We must also thank Congresswoman Judy Chu for her tireless and ongoing efforts to support, protect, and now defend our San Gabriel Mountains and National Monument and Angeles National Forest, as well as the National Forest Foundation who have helped facilitate the tremendous work of the Collaborative.

Back Row, L-R: Chuck Myers, National Forest Homeowners Association, Judy Nelson, Glendora City Councilmember, Diane Erskine-Helrigel, Community Hiking Club, Steve Messer, CORBA, Edward Belden, National Forest Foundation; front row: John Monson, Sierra Club, Armond Garcia, LA County DPW, Liz Reilly, Duarte Councilmember, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Margaret Clark, Rosemead Councilmember, Kelly Gardner, San Gabriel Valley Water Association, and Michelle Nuttall, Southern California
Edison. The full Collaborative member list can be found here.