New Trails coming in 2016 – Here’s How You Can Help!

yield-trail-sign-tempeThe Marin County Parks Spring Newsletter is out and it has some very encouraging news:

“Coming soon: Improved roads and trails!
Implementation of the Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) is underway for both Region 1 in the southeast and Region 2 in the west. The next step is to begin improving a few of the trails before they can become “official.” Staff is hard at work on the necessary California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) work for two trails in Camino Alto Preserve and one trail in Gary Giacomini Preserve with an eye towards on-the-ground improvement work slated for fall/winter 2016.”

In preparation for these and other trails coming online in 2016 and 2017, MCBC is proactively educating all trail users about basic responsibilities and expectations that go hand in hand with new trail opportunities. Here are three things you and the people you ride with can do to help move this progress forward.

1 – Always Slow Down When Passing Other Trail Users!
It’s amazing how many people riding bikes still blow past hikers, equestrians, other cyclists and even rangers on trails and fire roads. There’s just no excuse for not slowing down to 5 MPH or even stopping where the trail is narrow. This single action will have virtually no effect on your ride, but will significantly reduce countless stories of “near misses” and comments like “I could have been killed!”

2 – Don’t Build Illegal Trails!
It’s just not worth it to build unauthorized trails on public lands. Illegal trail building is destructive to the environment, but it’s equally destructive to our efforts to expand bike legal trail access in Marin. We know it can seem to be a slow process working with land managers. But, every non-sanctioned trail undercuts our credibility with these key agencies. Also, if caught, you will face large fines and fees to restore damage. Permitted trails need stewardship, so showing up for Trail Work Days is a better way to show your skills with a shovel.

3 – Ride Open Trails Only!
Though it’s easy to say mountain bikers have no trail access in Marin, we have a bike legal trail loop at China Camp State Park, and there are a growing number of multi-use trails across Marin, including Big Rock Trail, 680 Trail, White Hill Trail, Porcupine Trail, Topflite Trail, Coast View Trail, Tenderfoot Trail, Dias Ridge Trail, Old Spring Trail, Middle Green Gulch Trail (uphill only), Olema Valley Trail and Rush Creek Trail. Soon we will add Bill’s Trail to the list. We have narrow trail riding at Camp Tamarancho and MCBC is advocating for biker/hiker trails that do not need to be built as wide as multi-use trails. Lastly, we have access to all of Marin’s Fire Roads thanks to the work of early trail advocates like Bicycle Trails Council of Marin. At one time land managers were considering closing all access to bikes on public lands.

Every trail user needs to do their part in this effort. As we work to close gaps, create long, connected routes and introduce new trail concepts to diversify your riding opportunities, we ask, beg, plead with you to:

Always Slow Down When Passing Other Trail Users
Don’t Build Illegal Trails
Ride Open Trails Only

Your efforts now will pay off for generations to follow.

Advertisements

March 12 Trail Maintenance Day – Porcupine and White Hill Trails

Join MCBC, NorCal and Marin County Parks in maintaining the Porcupine and White Hill trails on Saturday, March 12! We will split into teams and work our way down over a one-mile span of trail. We’ll be doing light tread work and cutting back vegetation to improve sight lines.

Breakfast snacks, a hearty lunch, drinks, tools, gloves and training are provided. Bring layered clothing, gloves, a water bottle and a small pack for storing water and sturdy hiking boots.

IMG_0227

WHO: MCBC, NorCal and Marin County Parks
WHAT: Trail Maintenance Day
WHEN: Saturday, March 12 from 9 am to 1 pm (lunch included)
WHERE: Brown Bridge at Sir Francis Drake Blvd on White Hill

For more information or to RSVP, contact Volunteer Coordinator Greg Reza at greza@marincounty.org or (415) 473-3778.

Park on the shoulder of Brown Bridge and meet at the entrance to White Hill Trail. Directions: From Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take the Sir Francis Drake Blvd (SFDB) exit and head west through Fairfax to the crest of White’s Hill. Brown Bridge is approximately 2.5 miles past the town of Fairfax. Look for signs. Google map: White Hill Trail parking . Please use the trail underneath Brown Bridge instead of crossing busy Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

IMG_0247

 

3 Gaps Trail Initiative in Full Swing!

Early last year, MCBC identified the three biggest gaps in Marin County’s bicycle trail network. This began the MCBC 3 Gaps Trail Initiative: our vision of a single car-free route from the Golden Gate Bridge to Pt. Reyes.

Much of the effort goes on day to day, working with land managers to identify possible linking trails and then moving these through the various phases of planning and review.  MCBC members showing up at key meetings and spreading the word to other cyclists have kept everything on track through the process.

We are happy to report that one of the three proposals, Easy Grade Trail, just took one step nearer to closing a gap!  Following a public comment period, California State Parks reported some impressive news.

96% of comments favored the proposed change to allow bicycles on Easy Grade Trail citing, safety, avoidance of paved roads (Pan Toll), increased access for bicycles, reduced potential environmental impacts of a new trail to allow bikes, increased connectivity for bikes to other trails, safer for younger bicyclists, increased connectivity to Bay Area Ridge Trail, reduced potential danger of motorists with bicycles (the new route would allow bicyclists to stay off roads with motorists from Mt. Theatre to Pan Toll).

The report went on to say that the addition of bicycle use to Easy Grade Trail is approved and that staff expects to have a proposed modification plan completed in the first half of 2016. The trail will remain closed to bikes until the modifications are complete.

Thanks to all who wrote comment letters, it really does make a difference!

mcbc_3gap_2015-04-30-1

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition 3 Gaps Trail Initiative is focused on closing three of the biggest gaps in Marin’s trail network. To experience the full bounty of Marin’s parklands, bicyclists are currently forced to use narrow paved roads with no shoulders and fast moving vehicular traffic. The 3 Gap Initiative seeks to change that.

Many people choose off-road bicycling specifically to avoid motor vehicle traffic and the fear of being struck by a car. Consequently, most mountain bikers report a diminished experience when doing a ride of any real distance in Marin, due to the need to ride roads to connect trails. This is the reality for bicyclists that want to ride from GGNRA to Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and from Mt. Tamalpais State Park to the Marin Water District watershed.

Closing these three gaps would significantly enhance the outdoor experience for Marin’s bicyclists. The 3 Gaps Initiative would create a car-free bicycle trail route from the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Reyes.

All three projects are within the Tamalpais Lands Collaborative boundaries and provide much-needed connectivity for visitors on bikes, with minimal impacts to other users.

Benefits include:

  • Improving safety for bicyclists by getting them off narrow roadways
  • Reducing the number of bikes on narrow roadways, which can impede traffic
  • Enhancements which reduce environmental impacts on two of the trails
  • Spreads the work to expand opportunities for mountain biking fairly among Marin’s land managers
  • Reducing illegal trail riding by providing bike legal connectivity
  • Each proposal has multiple benefits including safety, connectivity and environmental enhancements

To move these projects forward, MCBC is prepared to work with stakeholders and other interest groups to build support for each proposal. MCBC will partner with land managers to find funding for these projects, will recruit volunteers from its 2,500 annual contributors to help build and maintain these facilities, and will provide educational outreach once they are complete.

MCBC 3 Gap Trail Initiative Details

Gap #1
HWY_1

Dias Ridge Phase II & III – GGNRA
Problem:
Large user gap forcing bicyclists to use a 1.7 mile stretch of Highway 1, a narrow road between the Coast View Trail and Muir Beach.

Solution: Construct two new multi-use trails between the Golden Gate Dairy Stables and the Coast View Trail.

Dias_II-III_Ban

Benefits: Allows bicyclists an alternative to dangerous Highway 1, uses portion of existing ranch road, reduces the number of bikes traveling through the Muir Beach community and closes a multi-use gap in the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

 

Gap #2
Pantoll_Rd

Easy Grade Trail – Mt Tamalpais State Park
Problem:
Large gap forcing bicyclists to use a 1.7 mile stretch of Pantoll Road, a narrow road between Pantoll Station and Rock Springs Fire Road.

Solution: Easy Grade Trail change-in-use to hiker/biker, providing connectivity between southern and northern sides of Mt. Tamalpais.

Easy_Grade_ciu

Benefits: Provides bicyclists an alternative to a narrow and curvy section of Pantoll Road, takes advantage of an existing redundant trail, avoids displacement (hikers and equestrians use Old Mine Trail and hikers use Bootjack trail), provides a road-free route to the Mountain Play, reducing vehicle trips, closes a bicycle user gap in the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

 

Gap #3
BoFax

Azalea Hill – MMWD
Problem:
Large gap forcing bicyclists to use a 1.3 mile stretch of Bolinas/Fairfax Road, a narrow road between Mt. Tamalpais and Pine Mountain.

Solution: a multi-use trail from Bull Frog Fire Road to Fairfax/Bolinas Road to create a car-free connection from Lagunitas and Bon Tempe Lakes to the Pine Mountain Fire Road.

Azalea_gap_BF

Benefits: Allows bicyclists a car-free option to a narrow section of Bolinas/Fairfax Road, recycles an historic stage road for multi-use, allows for improvements to that old road, which is currently inaccessible, removes a spaghetti of social trails on a steep, high value habitat, provides fast emergency response from Sky oaks to Pine Mountain.

mcbc_3gap_2015-04-30-3_map

January volunteer opportunities

From the Friends of Stafford Lake Bike Park:

Help is needed at the bike park Monday, January 18 (MLK Day).  We are looking for volunteers to assist with winterization work to protect park features from El Nino fueled storms.

Stafford_winterization_work
Our work now will pay off big this spring.

Please bring your rain gear out this Monday and help us spread mulch.  Mulch is our best friend right now.  Spreading as much as we can right now, and maintaining our erosion control features throughout the winter is critical to ensuring that the park will re-open as soon as possible.

WHAT: Winterization work to protect park
WHERE: Stafford Lake Park, Novato
WHEN: Monday, January 18 9:00am – 1:00pm

For event status or to RSVP contact Marin County Parks Volunteer Coordinator Kirk Schroeder at 415- 763-2977 or KSchroeder@marincounty.org

From Friends of China Camp:

Join us for another day of playing in the dirt!

We skipped our December trail maintenance date, but are gearing up for January. The work we do will be determined by how muddy (or not muddy) the trail is. Most likely we will be repairing some sections of Shoreline Trail where the previous restoration needs to be spiffed up to prevent erosion or further erosion. We will also be cleaning bridges by scraping away any earth-wood contact to prevent rot. And, as always, cutting back the overgrowth and raking up leaf litter will be part of the agenda. As you can see, there are options from digging, shoveling, tamping, toting gravel, prying pebbles and dirt from between bridge boards, to a leisurely amble on the trail with pruners and rakes.

China_Camp_trailwork

WHAT: Trail maintenance
WHERE: Shoreline Trail near campgrounds
WHEN: Saturday, January 23
RSVP: Click on the calendar link at http://www.calparks.org/help/park-champions/

There will be two crews. 9-1 (includes lunch) and 1-4 (ending with yummy treats)

 

 

We need more letters like this one!

Published in the Marin IJ on December 17, 2016

Finding common ground on public trails access

As someone who has been using Marin County trails by foot for the last 40 years, the Footpeople, and especially Connie Berto (Readers’ Forum, Dec. 12) do not speak for me.

While I don’t begrudge them their freedom to express themselves, the Footpeople’s doctrine of selfishness and exclusion deserves only a small part in the dialogue about the appropriate use of our public lands.

The fact that people are outside on trails, whether on foot, bicycles, or horses, is something that should be celebrated and encouraged.

We need to continue to build and strengthen our community. If we are outside on the trails, regardless of how we got there, we have a lot more in common with each other than we have differences.

In a world where people are increasingly staring into their phones to find meaning in their lives, we need to do what we can to bring them outside.

Advocating for exclusionary policies and increased enforcement to keep people out of the woods is not helping.

What if all of the trail-user advocacy groups worked together to promote policies that made it easier for more people to get outside and enjoy the open space? It would be more crowded out there for sure, but a crowd of healthy happy people breathing clean air in a forest sure beats the alternative.

— Gregory Allen, Mill Valley

Thank you Gregory Allen!

680-opening-LA-by-CraigSolin-(9)_sm

Photo by Craig Solin

 

Look for these signs at new bike trails in 2016!

Off-Road Momentum: Five Miles of New Trails Opening Beginning in 2016 – Recent Trail Designations balance trail access and resource protection

IMG_20151212_143117_1.jpgMCBC supported the passage of Measure A , which will help open new bike trails in 2016!

After extensive public meetings, workshops and discussions over the past year, Marin County Parks recently adopted the Region 2 System Designation, increasing bike-legal trail access by 5 miles without the costlier expense and environmental impact of new trail construction.

MCBC supports this Region 2 System Designation – it meets the needs of all trail users, expands opportunities for mountain biking, and enhances the environment. The Designation provides for a balanced approach to road and trail management by:

  • Maintaining all existing system trails as-is, with no proposed changes in use
  • Adopting informal trails to increase legal trail access for all users, including mountain bikers
  • Designating new access for mountain bikers in areas far from equestrian stables
  • Improving adopted trails to reduce the erosion and transport of sediment into sensitive creek habitats

As required by the Regional Trails Management Plan (RTMP), adoption of these trails will include actions to improve their sustainability and environmental integrity. The newly-adopted trails will address the mountain bike community’s desire for a broad range of riding experiences, from the wider, gently-sloped multi-use experience of Contour Trail to the narrower and more technical experience of Juniper Trail.

These trails will provide a selection of loops and connections to facilitate longer distance cross-country rides. Finally, adoption of these trails will reduce the number of bicycle trips on steep, loose fire roads in the Region, which will reduce the potential for conflict with other users and decrease the risk of injuries from crashing on these harsh facilities.

R2_Giacomini
ATTENTION: Provisionally designated trails will not be open for use until necessary environmental review and improvements are preformed on the segments 

The creation of an official, legal trail network for mountain bikers in Region 2, along with new opportunities in Southern Marin’s Region 1, will help foster a sense of inclusion for the mountain biking community, which has traditionally been excluded from the type of trail experiences that have long been open to hikers and equestrians in Marin County.

Giving the mountain bike community a greater stake in the trail system will help sustain a “no tolerance” attitude towards illegal trail building and increase awareness of, and respect for, other trail users. MCBC is prepared to help Parks with initial outreach efforts as new trails open, including monitoring the area for evidence of illegal trail building so that it can be stamped out promptly.

MCBC’s Off-Road Program stands on three guiding principles: education, environmental stewardship, and expanded opportunities for mountain biking. We’ve demonstrated that all of these objectives are equally important and have followed through with consistent action. Since the opening of the Dias Ridge Trail in GGNRA, MCBC volunteers have returned each year to care for the trail and maintain drainage and safety features. With the Marin Conservation League and the Marin Horse Council, we are a founding member of Trail Partners and helped develop the “Slow & Say Hello!” campaign based on our knowledge of trail-sharing initiatives and incentives. We have distributed 1,500 bike bells at trailheads throughout the county, and advocated for policies and BMPs in the RTMP to promote safety, environmental stewardship, and mutual respect among all trail uses.

We are prepared and excited to continue these and related efforts and partnerships in support of Marin County Parks’ Region 2 Trail System Designation.

Marin Wildlife Picture Index Project, what it is and what it’s not.

MCBC has received emails and comments from bicyclists who are concerned that trailside surveillance cameras are being used for enforcement purposes. They are not!

Cameras that are visible from trails and fire roads in Marin are part of the Wildlife Picture Index Project (WPI), an innovative method combining photos from wildlife cameras and other environmental data that enables land managers to learn about the presence of wildlife and, ultimately, assess the success of efforts to protect wildlife species diversity and populations.

COaIL39UAAEUMIh

You can read all about the program at www.marincountyparks.org. There you will find an FAQ section that includes this excerpt:

Q: Will Photographs Taken by these Cameras be Used for Enforcement Purposes?

A: No. Images caught on camera will NOT be used for enforcement purposes. The purpose of this project is strictly to learn more about wildlife activity on Open Space.

In addition to reports from bicyclists about the cameras on trails, we’ve also learned that some of the equipment is being vandalized, which is likely to result in increased ranger patrols in the areas where the vandalism occurs.

Please leave the cameras alone if you find one and know that they are there to monitor and protect wildlife, not to bust bikers.

IMG_20151110_135200

Here is more information taken from the program website:

What is the Wildlife Picture Index?
The Wildlife Picture Index Project (WPI) is a method that combines statistical analysis of photos from wildlife cameras with other environmental data to help land managers learn about the presence of wildlife in our parks and open spaces. First developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London and now supported by HP Enterprise Services and Conservation International, this technique is now being used in Marin County to better understand how wildlife use the diverse habitats on Mt Tamalpais.

What is a wildlife camera?
A wildlife camera is a stationary, weatherproof, motion-activated camera that can be left outside for long periods of time. Wildlife cameras do not emit light or use a flash, and therefore are able to gather images without disturbing wildlife. Cameras operate on rechargeable batteries and record photographs onto memory cards.

What is the purpose of this project?
The purpose of this project is to acquire statistically viable wildlife data over a large geographic area on Mt Tamalpais and adjacent public lands. While public land managers are aware of many of the species (bobcats, coyotes, badgers, etc.) that occupy Marin’s park and watershed lands, much is still unknown regarding their abundance, how they move about, and how they use these lands at different times of the year. Understanding trends and patterns in wildlife use and behavior is essential to taking better care of our public wild lands.

How are the cameras arranged?
The cameras in this project are arranged on a grid, which provides a non-biased sampling method that can yield information about occupancy and frequency of wildlife species in different areas. The cameras are placed at regular intervals within a contiguous area on land owned and managed by Marin County Parks, Marin Municipal Water District, California State Parks, and the National Park Service.

Badger

Off-Road: 8 Miles of Bike Legal Trails Proposed in One Afternoon

Marin County Parks and Open Space held the second Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) Region Trail Designation workshop for Region on October 3.  Thanks to all who gave up a beautiful Saturday afternoon to engage in a process to enhance the visitor experience on our trails and fire roads, while making them more sustainable.

After a presentation from Open Space staff, and an overview of a plan to close a bike gap on Mt Tam near Azalea Hill by MMWD, participants broke out into groups to look at maps of seven Open Space preserves, including Gary Giacomini in the San Geronimo Valley and Cascade Canyon in Fairfax. On those maps, combined with MMWD’s proposal to adopt an old ranch road for bikes on Azalea Hill, were roughly 8 miles of proposed new bike legal trails. Some would be multi-use, while others are proposed as hiker/biker, meaning they will provide a single-track riding experience that many mountain bikers desire. Narrower trails also result in less impact on the surrounding habitat.

RTMP_Region_2_workshop_10-3-15

Open Space is proposing to adopt and designate a number of old logging roads and informal trails that would provide new opportunities for mountain biking, while avoiding new trail construction and displacement of other users. These trails would become open in phases, after minor enhancements have been made to reduce impacts on the environment and to reduce maintenance costs associated with new use.

This is the kind of win-win situation MCBC has been working with other stakeholders and land managers to advance.

CLICK HERE to see the Powerpoint presentation from the workshop. Maps of the region have been removed as they show sensitive information. Feel free to email Tom Boss at tom@marinbike.org if you missed the workshop and would like an overview of the trails that are proposed for designation.

Currently Open Space staff is evaluating the input they received at the workshop and will post final designation maps to their website in about 2 to 3 weeks. Once the initial designation maps are posted, users are able to make their own proposals for additional enhancements, including change in use, road-to-trail conversions, trail decommissions and new trail construction. Proposals are accepted annually and due in August.

IMPORTANT: Once the final maps are posted, trails proposed for designation will not be open for legal use until approved by the Open Space District. Necessary trail improvements and environmental review must take place before opening of these trails for use.

There is much to celebrate as the Road and Trail Management Plan moves forward, including new trails to ride and enhancements funded by Measure A.

Stay tuned for updates on the process, including MCBC’s first official proposals. In 2016 Open Space will host more trail designation workshops for Region’s 3 through 6, which includes San Rafael and Novato.

Help Build A Better Trail Network THIS SATURDAY!

On Saturday, October 3, Marin County Open Space District will hold the Region 2 Trail Designation Workshop.

Porcupine_trail

The existing network of roads and trails throughout Region 2, including the Gary Giacomini and Cascade Canyon Open Space preserves, present Marin County Parks with a remarkable opportunity to improve recreational experiences and connectivity for a broad range of users, while simultaneously reducing the impacts of the network on sensitive environmental resources.

At this workshop, Open Space staff will present a baseline trail system as a starting point. Old logging roads and non-system trails may be considered for adoption at this meeting to improve connectivity and create loop opportunities. Enhancements to reduce their impacts on the environment will also be considered.

We need bicyclists at this meeting to support actions that will meet the needs of mountain bikers.

WHAT: Region 2 Road and Trail System Designation Workshop
WHEN: Saturday, October 3, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
WHERE: Lagunitas School in San Geronimo (Multipurpose Room)
RSVP: http://falltrailworkshops.eventbrite.com

Marin County Parks, which gradually has been acquiring lands for more than 40 years, is beginning to implement its Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP), approved by the Marin County Open Space Board of Directors in December 2014. On Saturday, October 3, the public will have chance to hear how the plan affects Parks Region 2, which includes the Cascade Canyon, Gary Giacomini, Loma Alta, White Hill, French Ranch, Roys Redwoods and Maurice Thorner preserves.

RTMP_Region_2

The RTMP was conceived to make roads and trails more safe, enjoyable, environmentally sustainable and financially manageable. The first step in RTMP implementation is the designation of a formal system of signed and maintained road and trail facilities. Please participate in the process on Saturday, October 3.

Region 2 Designation Workshop FAQs

Q: Will Open Space propose new trails at the workshop?

A: No, this meeting only focuses on designating a baseline trail system from the current inventory of system and non-system trails in Region 2. After the designation is adopted, individuals and organizations can submit changes annually, including new trails, road to trail conversions, decommissions and management actions such as alternate days and change in use.

Q: Will Open Space consider change in use of existing trails at the workshop?

A: No, not at this stage of the process. If Open Space chooses to keep a system trail, its designated use(s) will remain the same for now. However, Open Space does have the discretion to choose appropriate uses for non-system trails that it proposes to designate.

Q: Can I suggest new trail alignments at the workshop?

A: While you’re free to share your ideas with Open Space staff, new trail projects will ultimately need to come from organizations or individuals after each region has gone through the designation phase. The next opportunity to submit proposals is August 2016.

Q: What are the colors that will benefit users?

A: Green, Purple and Yellow lines will highlight the proposed trail system, with another map identifying proposed designated uses.

Q: Will there be red lines identifying proposed trail decommissions at the workshop?

A: There will likely be red lines on the maps at the workshop. They represent examples of trails that are too unsustainable for adoption in their current state or that impact a sensitive habitat. Their appearance on the maps will not result in any immediate action – the workshop is focused on “designating” trails.

Q: Will bicyclists be able to ride new trail opportunities as soon as the Region 2 designation is adopted?

A: Probably not. Open Space has an obligation to anticipate the impacts of increased use and the weight that it has on the environment and agency resources. They will need to make improvements such as fixing erosive areas and armoring stream crossings before new trail opportunities are officially open for use.

MCBC’s inaugural ladies only Jane Fondo is featured on singletracks.com!

In an effort to get more women riding dirt, MCBC organized a fully supported ladies only epic mountain bike ride on Mt. Tam in June. Former MCBC Board Director Maureen Gaffney was a participant and wrote this whimsical ride report!

singletracks.com

Ladies Turn Out for the Jane Fondo in Marin, California
Posted on September 18, 2015 by Maureen Gaffney

When they told me the new all-women’s mountain bike ride would be called “The Jane Fondo,” I snorted a little bit of whatever I was drinking at the time. Would the famous actress sue the Marin County Bicycle Coalition ? It seemed unlikely. 50 ladies, escorted by pro cyclocross racer and hometown heroine Rachel Lloyd, ably assisted by Robin Farina (a pro-roadie from Nevada City who loves her some dirt), set out across the Marin landscape in waves. Three routes of varying epicness were available–13.5, 22, or 28 miles. This writer/rider was harassed and cajoled into the 28-mile, 4,300-foot climb route with subtle threats to my womanhood–sentences containing words like “pansy” and “wimp.” For me, though, the words “burgers,” “beer,” and “swag” were far more influential.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

11811366_10154120440354552_7960895346881433128_n