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Report on the March 16th COSCA Spring Trailwork Day in Hawk Canyon

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Forty-five to 50 volunteers turned out to help restore several hundred yards of the Hawk Canyon Trail in the Conejo Canyons/Western Plateau open space areas on Saturday March 16th for the annual COSCA Spring Trail Work Day. The area had been burned by the Hill Fire in November, then inundated by heavy winter rains. We worked on the north-eastern half, the newest section that was built in 2017 during the Spring Trail Work Day.

The primary focus of the work was to move the trail slightly uphill, further from the flood plane where it had been buried by mudflows. Because of all the rain, the soil was quite soft and quite easy to dig out and pack down. This made the work easier than normal, but still there was a lot of dirt to move where the cross-slope was quite steep, and there was one section of about 20 feet that was covered by large rocks that had to be moved.

About a quarter of the volunteers worked a little further up the trail, clearing the heavy grass, mustard, thistle and other weeds that were choking off the trail.

Everyone did such a great job that we got finished and back to the staging area for lunch before the expected time of noon.

The event was a cooperative effort of the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), the Conejo Open Space Action Committee (COSTAC), the Conejo Open Space Foundation (COSF – provided the thank-you lunch and snacks), the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council trail crew, the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) trail crew, and dozens of other volunteers. Thanks everyone for helping make the trails safer and more enjoyable for everyone!

View more photos of the work day in our Spring Trail Work Day photo gallery.

Vote with your REI Purchases to support the Backbone Trail

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

This month, our friends at the SAMO Fund, a non-profit partner of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, are in a competition for funding through REI called “Loving Our Local Outdoors”. Between March 7th and April 8th, 2019, customers who make a purchase at one of eight local REI stores will receive a voting token and can vote for their favorite organization/project. The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is up against Friends of the LA River and Friends of Joshua Tree. While we are competing for the funding, supporters can rest assured that this is not a winner-loser situation; all organizations will receive funding in proportion to the number of votes received by each.

November 2018’s Woolsey Fire decimated 88% of National Park land in the Santa Monica Mountains, proving to be the most devastating park fire in the area since the Green Meadows Fire in 1993. The popular Backbone Trail that travels through the mountains has suffered extreme damage that creates safety issues for visitors. A few sections favored by mountain bikers remain closed due to fire-destroyed bridges, excessive erosion and large slides from torrential rains on the burned hillsides.

However, the biggest challenge to reopening the closed sections of the Backbone trail is the replacement of burned bridges. Without those bridges, the section of the Backbone Trail will remain closed to the public. With funding from this REI grant initiative, the SAMO Fund will be able to support and supply the needed materials for this project and help get this trail fully reopened to the public.

CORBA is committed to restoring the closed sections of trail, and will be applying for additional grant funding in support of the effort to re-establish and reopen the Backbone trail. This is an opportunity to help raise additional funds needed. Bridge replacement costs could run into the six-figure arena.

To vote for the Backbone Trail restoration project, visit one of the participating REI stores listed below*. With every purchase you make, you’ll receive a voting token that you can place into the SAMO Fund bucket. The more tokens they accumulate by April 8th, the more funding they will receive, and the sooner we can get those trail sections back in service.

 

* REI online customers will not have the opportunity to vote, unless you use free delivery to a participating REI store for pickup.

March 2nd 2019 Trail Fire Closures Update for the Santa Monica Mountains

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

This article has been updated since it was originally posted on January 4th:

– January 12: The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) opened most of their open space areas

– March 2: The Backbone Trail between Kanan Road west to Yerba Buena Road has been opened.

South of the 101 Freeway, the Woolsey Fire completely decimated most of the open space between Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road on the east and Point Mugu State Park (Sycamore Canyon) on the west. North of the 101, most of the open space south of Simi Valley and between Valley Circle on the east and Erbes Road to the west was destroyed.

With the recent rains, the regeneration process has begun and new growth can be seen on the burned hillsides.

Nevertheless, many of the trails are still closed until they are assessed for damage, and repaired as necessary. In addition, heavy rains my result in mudslides that may damage sections of the trail that survived the fire.

The good news is that many of the trails are now open to use. The bad news is that during the Federal Government partial shutdown, the National Park Service is not able to work on their trails, prolonging the time that they will be closed.

The following list is not exhaustive – there are many smaller trails not listed that may be open or closed. If you see that a trail is marked as closed or cordoned off, please stay off it.

Areas that are open

Areas that are still closed

For your own safety and to protect the plants and creatures that live in the open space, please stay off closed trails completely, and where the trails are open to use, please stay on the trails! Also, watch for new hazards on the trails such as large ruts, debris slides, washouts and fallen trees.

The March 2019 eTerraTimes newsletter was posted February 28

Friday, March 1st, 2019

CORBA’s eTerraTimes newsletter for March was posted today, February 28th. If you don’t get it by email, you can view the online version on our website.

CORBA Annual Update

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

We’ve been overdue for an update, and as President of CORBA, I have to apologize for the lapse in communication as to our many ongoing efforts over these past few months. For me personally, it has been a challenging year, but the one thing that has not lapsed is CORBA’s dedication to improving trails and mountain biking opportunities in and around Los Angeles.

Over the past year, CORBA has seen many successes, and just as many challenges. CORBA members and all SoCal mountain bikers have a lot to celebrate about 2018. Here are some notable moments:

  • Restoration and re-opening of the Gabrielino National Recreation Trail trail after nine years of closure
  • Partnering with the US Forest Service to conduct a high-level, four-day Trail Stewardship Summit
  • Opening of Sapwi Bike Park in Thousand Oaks with the first public pump track in the area (phase one).
  • Volunteer construction and opening of 3+ miles of new multi-use singletrack trail at East Walker Ranch, City of Santa Clarita.
  • Acquisition of funding for tools to equip the SCV Trail crew
  • Completion of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan, with significant review and input from mountain bikers through our participation on the SGM Community Collaborative.
  • A new cost-share partnership agreement with the Forest Service for future trail maintenance and volunteer training
  • Adoption of a bike-friendly Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master Plan, Phase 2 by Los Angeles County with input from CORBA and our SCV Trail Users committee
  • Ongoing maintenance of dozens of miles of multi-use trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Conejo Open Space and Angeles National Forest
  • Installation of bench seats at Brown Mountain Saddle, Angeles National Forest
  • 11 free Skills Clinics held at Malibu Creek State Park. (For the first time in more than 20 years, we had to cancel a clinic due to the Woolsey Fire).
  • Continued support of the Mountain Bike Unit in patrolling the Santa Monica Mountains, a CORBA-initiated program
  • Repairs, updates and maintenance on our fleet of 40 Youth Adventures bicycles
  • Approximately 18 Youth Adventures trips, taking at-risk youth on interpretive mountain bike rides
  • Represented mountain biking interests at numerous public meetings, scoping meetings, and planning sessions
  • Monitored and responded to legislation affecting bicycling on our public lands.

Challenges

However, even with all these successes, CORBA’s biggest challenge is that our membership numbers have declined by 40% since December 2017.

While we have been highly successful in our grant applications, receiving almost $85,000 in grants that have supported Sapwi Bike Park, new trail construction in Santa Clarita, restoration of Station Fire damaged trails, tool purchases, and our Youth Adventures program, all of those funds are allocated to their respective projects, not to CORBA’s operating expenses or advocacy efforts.

Our board of directors has continued to work tirelessly on behalf of mountain bikers throughout the greater Los Angeles area. There are only five of us, and we’re all at capacity. As unpaid volunteers, we can only give so much of our time. It’s your memberships and donations that keep us going.

However, with several ongoing projects, including trail maintenance, Woolsey fire recovery, efforts to complete Sapwi Bike Park, create a new bike park in the City of Los Angeles, plans to develop much-needed mountain-bike optimized trails, preventing trail closures due to Wilderness, and helping form a state-wide California Mountain Biking advocacy group, our plates are already full.

In 2019 we’re looking to expand our Board of directors. We need additional support in communications and branding (including social media), accounting and fundraising. With an estimated

Regardless, our past successes and your enjoyment of them is what drives us to continue to work and advocate for mountain bikers in and around Los Angeles.

Trail Restoration in Malibu Creek State Park April 20th and Lunch

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Crags Road, also known as “The Rock Garden” or “The Creek of Doom,” suffered major blows this winter, first by the Woolsey Fire that decimated the hillsides, then rainstorms that tore the trail up pretty badly and covered parts with rock slides. We worked on this section not far from the M*A*S*H site in November 2017 and now we’re going back to fix it again.

Restoring Crags Road through the “Creek of Doom” in Nov 2017.

This is a combined project between California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, CORBA and Girlz Gone Riding.

All tools will be provided, as well as instructions on how to use them safely and effectively, by experienced trail crew leaders. No experience needed – everyone works at a rate they’re comfortable with and takes lots of breaks. Bring a snack to eat on the trail; CORBA will provide lunch after the event for those who register online in advance to help us with planning (see below for the link to online registration).

Wear sturdy hiking boots with good lugs, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses, sunblock and a hat, and bring water, snacks. Bring work gloves if you have them. We have a few pairs we can loan to people without.

Please help us plan for the event by signing up online at https://www.meetup.com/CORBAmtb/events/259311989/ and also qualify for a lunch on CORBA. Thanks!

COSCA March Trailwork Day March 16th

Monday, February 25th, 2019

The Conejo Canyons and Western Plateau in Thousand Oaks have taken a real beating this winter, first by the Hill Fire that denuded the terrain, and then the heavy rain that resulted in ruts and washouts. We’re going to get out there to restore these trails to their original glory!

We use the Conejo Open Space trails regularly, so this is our chance to give back to the community while expanding our trail opportunities!

At noon, following the morning of trail-building, workers will be treated to a thank-you lunch while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow trail enthusiasts!

Wear protective clothing (long-legged pants, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses), sturdy shoes, gloves, hat and sunscreen.

No experience necessary. Tools and instructions on how to use them safely and effectively will be provided. Must be 18+ years of age. As always when in the open spaces, be aware of poison oak, ticks & rattlesnakes. Everyone works at their own comfort level.

Follow instructions of park rangers and trail crew leaders at all times.

Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Newbury Park, exit at Rancho Conejo Blvd heading north. Drive 1.8 miles, almost to the end, then turn left onto Conejo Center Drive. Continue 0.3 miles then park in the dirt lot on the right or at the side of the road.

Map: Use this Google map to help you find your way http://bit.ly/UchB4u

Help us prepare for the number of volunteers who will be participating by registering on our Meetup event.

January 2019 Skills Clinic photos posted January 5

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

This month we had one brave participant in the Skills Clinic. The weather was cold and overcast, but with no rain. This was the first clinic held since the Woolsey Fire swept through the park. A few photos of fire damage are included with the regular photos this month.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our January photo gallery.

Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master Plan, Phase 2, Released

Monday, December 10th, 2018

Los Angeles County recently released the final Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master Plan, Phase 2.  CORBA and our friends a the Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users, as well as many local mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians, all gave input on the plan at a series of public meetings in 2016. The plan covers areas east of the I5 in Santa Clarita, including Towsley Canyon and other open spaces, some yet to be developed.

This is the third such trail master plan completed by the County in recent years. Previously, CORBA and SCVTU gave significant input on both the Castaic Area Trail Master Plan and the Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master Plan, Phase 1 and were happy to support both. We’re equally excited about the new plan. 

The plan reflects the comments the County heard from the public, what is feasible (or may be) under current zoning and land ownership, and what makes sense for current growth projections. The final plan has now been released. https://trails.lacounty.gov/Documents  It includes many elements about which we are particularly excited, including two potential bike skills park locations.  

CORBA’s SCVTU committee has submitted a letter of support for the plan, as has the CORBA Board of Directors. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will vote to adopt this trail master plan as a component of the County General Plan on December 11, 2018. 

While we’re really encouraged by the plans, we realize that this is an aspirational document. It will be many years before being fully realized, if ever. The plan, if completed, would provide great connectivity, much improved recreational access to public lands. But realistically, it will take public support, partnerships and funding opportunities to see any of the plan complete.

CORBA, and our SCVTU Committee are ready and willing to help move elements of the trail master plan forward, such as the Bike Skills Park. 

The County will be moving forward with future trail master plans, which we’ll be sure to announce and advocate for more mountain biking opportunities and more trails for everyone. 

The Plan can be found among the County’s Trail Documents at https://trails.lacounty.gov/Files/Documents/137/SSMTMP-PII%20Final%20Trails%20Master%20Plan_December2018_web.pdf

Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users Letter of Support

CORBA Letter of support

______________________________________________________________________________

Update 12/11/2019, 11 a.m. The County Board of Supervisors today adopted the plan. 

REI and GGR Trailwork in Santa Clarita

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018
New Trail Construction at Golden Valley Ranch Open Space, Santa Clarita

This past Saturday, December 1st, CORBA’s Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users committee (SCVTU) organized another volunteer trail building day at Golden Valley Ranch Open Space in the City of Santa Clarita. 

The SCVTU has been working with the City of Santa Clarita to provide new trail opportunities on former ranch properties. Both East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Ranch were acquired by the City to both limit future development of the area, and to provide a recreational open-space resource for the Santa Clarita Community. 

Earlier this year, the group completed approximately three miles of new trail at East Walker Ranch, which was used for last summer’s PedalFest mountain bike race series. 

The new trail being constructed will link East Walker Ranch to the southern neighborhoods of Santa Clarita around Fair Oaks. It will provide trail connectivity from the City’s neighborhoods to these open space areas, and eventually into the Angeles National Forest. The trail will be a much more enjoyable experience than some of the steep ridge line ranch roads that currently exist.

Earlier this year, REI awarded CORBA a $15,000 grant to help lead the new trail development. The grant is being utilized by SCVTU to purchase trailwork tools, materials, volunteer support, and professional contractor services where they are indicated. 

Not only did REI provide financial support, but last Saturday, REI Woodland Hills invited all their employees to join in on the effort. REI chose this project for their “employee community service day.”  Some REI folks brought out their entire family. Kids too young to be out on the trail helped pot native succulent plants which were given to volunteers as “thank-you” gift at the end of the day.

Girlz Gone Riding (GGR), a women’s mountain bike club supported by CORBA, sent about 18 women to put in work on the trail. The girls had a lot of fun. A common theme to the comments was how rewarding it is to help bring a brand new trail to life. 

Jose Gonzales, SCVTU’s trail guru, had spent several days over the last few weeks working with Jason Lindenberg to lay out and flag the new trail, along with some preliminary brush clearing. 

About 60 people came out to the event, staged at East Walker Ranch.  Our target for the day was to complete bench-cutting and clearing about a half mile of trail. With the enthusiasm and energy of the group, we were able to complete close to .7 miles! 

Rains earlier in the week had softened the ground, making it relatively easy to contour the trail and pack it down. Conditions were just about ideal for building new trail in this terrain. However, the sticky clay will not be friendly to hiking boots or tires, and the new trail should be avoided when wet. 

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal came out to cover the event. The City is also very excited about the project. We appreciate the enthusiasm of all the volunteers. REI Woodland Hills Store Manager Nikki said they had so much fun, they’re ready to come back in January and help finish building the trail.  

A delicious Mexican cuisine buffet was served after the trailwork

We expect there to be at least two more workdays to finish this trail segment, after which it will be opened to the public. Watch for announcements of upcoming trailwork opportunities.

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