The latest

Last week I sat in on one of the Forest Plan revision meetings in Glendora. In case you don’t know what that’s about, the Forest Service revises how they manage all of the National Forests every 15 years or so and decides what kind of recreation, protection or resource removal they will allow depending on the local situations. The Sierra Club and other mountain bike haters are using this opportunity to try to close off more of the forest to your use. They claim that they have nothing against bikes (although they believe we should stay on fireroads only and the yahoos that cut trail and scare hikers are only helping their cause) but will accept no other designation for protection in the forest besides the Wilderness designation. There are other lesser protections that do everything the Wilderness one does-except they do not prohibit mechanized, non-motorized (say bike) access. If it’s not about the bike (and the original wording of the Wilderness Act does not prohibit bikes it just limits access to self powered users which I believe we still are) then why not take the lesser coverage and have the hundreds of thousands of cyclists in the country on their side too? We are not the tree destroyers and land ravagers and mountain bikes (but maybe not their riders) give off no harmful emissions. Trails and fireroads themselves are not natural features of the forest so our riding on them doesn’t really do damage to the ecosystem. The reality is that they just want the forest to themselves even though most of these chest-thumping supposed protectors hardly ever come out and do any trail maintenance. They just want the government to give them the only access because they are somehow more privileged than the bikers and OHV driving riff raff. Unfortunately, their organization, money, and political power give them the opportunity to make themselves the gatekeepers of the forests and keep everyone else on the outside looking in. If you value your sport and your right to recreation in the forest that the government has mandated the USFS to provide to all users within reason especially in the LA area with it’s incredible number of people who are supposed to be provided this access, then you should find out the facts and different options the Forest Service is looking at. Don’t leave it to people like me or the undermanned and maybe undergunned IMBA people to keep your favorite trails open. Go to the meetings and see what’s up. At least check out the info on the USFS site:
You can also get some great info from our friends at the Warrior’s Society on their site:
Chris from the Warrior’s Society has sent me a bunch of good info that I’d be glad to forward to you. E-mail me and I’ll pass it on.
The meeting held in Glendora during the last round of public comments apparently turned into a shouting match with the Sierra Club and Center for Biodiversity people running rough shod all over the heavily outnumbered-and never organized-mountain bikers in attendance. The Sierra Clubbers had their usual tables outside and were rallying their troops and passing out
“Protect and Restore the Forests” stickers to the faithful-and I mean that literally because it’s religion to some of these people who are zealots who run on faith in the cause and not necessarily on the facts. The tables rallies and stickers are obviously meant to intimidate the USFS staff and all who oppose them too. I snuck in early this time wearing an REI shirt to keep on the down low. They were showing the different alternatives for managing the forest going forward. It was peaceful while I was there probably because the bikers and OHV guys were incognito like me or just decided to go to another less hostile place to see the plans for themselves. Plan 1 is pretty much how the forest is maintained now. There were other alternatives and the one the USFS prefers for the Angeles is Plan 4. It is similar to how things are now but adds more opportunity for motorized use on fireroads and adds some Wilderness in the Mt. Baldy area. Strawberry Peak and Condor Peak as well as the Devil’s Punchbowl-which were all in jeopardy earlier in the process-are not being changed as far as bike access in this plan. Plans 5 and 6 are the most extreme. Number 5 shows way more areas open to OHV use. I’m not opposed to those guys having more places to drive. In fact, I might be inclined to do more off-roading in my truck if I didn’t have to go so far to do it. These users also need to have their recreation needs represented by the Forest Service. Plan 6 is the one the Sierra Club is pushing for and the one to fear. It makes more than half of the Angeles National Forest into Wilderness and means you are denied! Check out the plans on the USFS site above and make your comments to the Forest Service online. The plan that is implemented may change from these options and so your input on specific parts of the plan and places in the forest will be taken into account. Do not miss your opportunity to voice your concerns! This is too important. We are so lucky that the Angeles has been managed the way it has over the last 15 years and that we are not in the same situation that other places like Marin County are in where most mountain biking is limited to the fire roads. That’s all my rant for now. Get involved.