Cleveland National Forest Conditions Blackout

Discussion in 'Trail Maintenance' started by mtnbikej, Aug 4, 2021.



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  1. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower
    3 years ago the Holy Fire burned through Trabuco Canyon. In it’s wake, it took out several historic trails.

    we have all been denied access to these trails due to the fire closure implemented by the Trabuco Ranger District of Cleveland National Forest.

    the closure is scheduled to expire in September or October.

    if you are on the Warriors Society email list then you already received this….for everyone else:

    2. ACTION ALERT - FOREST SERVICE RATES THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE HOLY JIM, TRABUCO AND WEST HORSE THIEF TRAILS AS “LOW PRIORITY”

    We have information that the Cleveland National Forest management has directed the Trabuco District Ranger, Darrel Vance, to place a low priority on the reconstruction of the trails destroyed from the rains after the Holy Jim fire; the Holy Jim, Trabuco and West Horse Thief trails. Forest management has also directed the District Ranger to issue no updates on the status of the trails and to not seek volunteer help in reconstructing them.

    We contacted Trabuco District Ranger Darrell Vance and asked what was the status of the reconstruction of the trails and if the COVID restrictions will be dropped so we could have our event in October. He stated he had some issues with the cabins in the canyon but did not give me a definitive answer on any actions by the Forest Service to restore the trails or if we could have our event. I responded by letting Darrell know we would support him in getting the trails restored by beginning a political campaign to lobby our representatives to provide the resources necessary to get the trails rebuilt. I also asked Darrell to please respond to my question as to whether we would be allowed to have our event in October.

    After he received this email regarding starting a political campaign, as directed by the Forest Management, Darrell stopped responding to my emails and the Forest Service began the defensive posture of “circling the wagons.” I did not expect this retaliation after 25 years of volunteering for the Forest Service.

    To determine what actions on the reconstruction of the trails the Cleveland National Forest management has directed Darrell Vance to take we took action and on July 1st we filed a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act Request) with the Cleveland National Forest FOIA officer requesting the following:

    All documents, offers of grants, (either verbally or in written form) and whether those grants were accepted, emails and meeting notes related to, including the priority given (and planned completion date), of the reconstruction of the trails in the Trabuco Canyon area, common names being the Holy Jim Trail, Trabuco Trail, and the West Horse Thief Trail, damaged in the Holy Jim Fires.

    In violation of the FOIA act, I received no receipt acknowledging my request until I sent a followup email, in which I cc the Public Information Officer, stating they were in violation of the FOIA act by not providing a receipt of my request. The FOIA officer responded on July 7th that he did receive the request and I would have all the documents within the 20-day period required by the FOIA act.

    Last Friday, July 30th, was the 20 “working day” since my request and now the Forest Service is in violation of the FOIA act. They DO NOT WANT THE PUBLIC TO KNOW THAT RECONSTRUCTING THESE TRAILS ARE A “LOW PRIORITY” ONLY TO BE WORKED ON "WHEN STAFF IS AVAILABLE.”

    I have been contacted by many of you asking what the status of the reconstruction is and expressing the desire to help work on these trails to get them reconstructed and you now know the answer as to why no action has been taken to reconstruct the trails or seek our volunteers to assist.

    It’s been almost 3 years since the trails have been closed with no action taken to restore them, no action taken to seek the public's assistance and the Forest Service willfully keeping the public uninformed as to the status of these trails and when they will be restored to the public. These are historic trails that should not be placed on the back burner with work being done “when crews are available.”

    We expect communication “blackout” to continue with the Forest Service, which means we will have to postpone the event until this retaliation stops and we are allowed to proceed.

    In your correspondence with County Supervisor Bartlett, your State Senator and Assemblyman and your Federal congressman and Senator state the following:

    1. The Forest Service violated the FOIA Act by not acknowledging the receipt of, and not releasing within 20 working days, the request for documents related to the re-construction of the trails damaged by rains almost 3 years ago after the Holy Jim Fire. The documents were requested on July 1st 2021 and of August 2nd they have not been provided.

    2. When does the Forest Service expect these trails to be restored and returned to public use?

    3. Why hasn’t the Forest Service kept the NGO trail work organizations that have maintained these trails, such as the Warrior’s Society and Sierra Club, informed as to their actions in getting these trails restored to the public or seek their assistance in recruiting volunteers to assist with the reconstruction. 99.9 percent of the trail maintenance done in the Trabuco District of the Cleveland National Forest is done by volunteers, not the Forest Service. Why have they kept the public in the dark?

    4. With the emergence of new COVID variants, going outdoors is many citizens only relief allowed under restrictions, keeping these trails closed is a substantially greater impact on the public than pre-COVID.

    5. Most importantly, express what these historic trails (the last grizzly bear in California, a female was killed in Trabuco Canyon where all these trails intersect) mean to you. The beauty of Holy Jim Falls after a good rain, the great hikes you’ve done, the goals you’ve accomplished and the natural beauty that these trails led you to.

    If you have any media contacts (we also need you to contact the Orange County Register and ask them to cover this issue) please pass on this info. We need the press to cover this.

    The Warrior’s Society was founded 25 years ago to maintain our public trails and to defend our access against the Sierra Club and their allies who championed Wilderness Designations and Forest Plans that would limit mountain biking and the public's access. With your help, we defeated their anti-mountain bike and anti-access proposals.

    I did not imagine that 25 years later the Warrior’s Society, with your help, would be battling the Forest Service for the same reasons; limiting our access by their lack of motivation in getting the trails restored. And like our previous battle 25 years ago, with your help, we will win again.

    Gather the bows and arrows of passion and words and let's win this my fellow Warrior’s.

    We will be having an “open the trails" rally at the “Luge N Brews” event on October 16th. Please support the event and our efforts to get our trails back for the publics use. Once we received the documents we requested via the FOIA act we will post them on our web site.

    Here is the information you need to contact your representatives:

    Find your California State Representative:


    http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov

    Find your congressman:

    https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

    Senator Dianne Feinstein:

    https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/

    Senator Alex Paddilla:

    https://www.padilla.senate.gov

    Orange County Board of Supervisors member Lisa Barlett, whose 5th district includes the canyon areas of Orange County:

    Lisa.Bartlett@ocgov.com

    (714) 834-3550





    Bottom line is, the Trabuco Ranger Distict has always been the redheaded step child when it comes to CNF….lack of funding, lack of law enforcement, lack of any idea what’s actually going on out on the mountain.

    I had heard rumblings that some of the Holy Jim cabin residents have been pushing to keep everything closed.

    please contact the representatives above. We need to light a fire under the CNF to get the trails back open, whether by their own staff(which will never happen, as it has never used their staff to do any trail work) or allow the volunteer groups in to rehabilitate the trails. Please make sure you note that the other local National Forests(Angelous, San Bernardino) welcome volunteer groups to rehabilitate trails.
     
  2. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    HT, FS
    Unfortunate. How much longer before civil disobedience begins?

    Regarding cabin owners "pushing to keep everything closed": They don't have shyt for influence as to what the District does. Maybe WS should focus more on access issues that actually exist.
     
  3. hill^billy

    hill^billy iMTB Rockstah


    Not much longer, the communist have a plan, to many still asleep, but that will change soon! Wondering when the real black out is going to happen?
     
    Redman likes this.
  4. Bill

    Bill Member

    Location:
    Costa Mesa
    Name:
    Bill
    Current Bike:
    it's black
    I have dealt with the FS before and recommend heartily that we follow J's approach with our elected representatives.

    I also recommend that the DC main office be bombarded with phone messages detailing the failure to communicate and comply with the FOIA at 202-205-1680. Kindly summarize J's summary above for their benefit.
     
    OTHRider, kingaucho, Mikie and 3 others like this.
  5. sir crashalot

    sir crashalot iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    laguna beach
    Name:
    gary fishman
    Current Bike:
    2018 banshee rune
    Such an unbelievable bummer. Will send these letters. A piece of me is missing as long as that areas closed-even though it wont be what it was again n my lifetime.
    Should we email or send analog letters?
     
    Mikie, mtnbikej, mike and 1 other person like this.
  6. BonsaiNut

    BonsaiNut iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Troutman, NC
    Name:
    Greg P
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower CC XX1
    Wow. One would think there were stairs or railings or something... or that volunteers haven't been maintaining the trails for years already.

    Sad for you guys. Have to say I went out on a high note since the last time I rode Trabuco was with @Mikie and gang. I'd probably be depressed seeing it in its current condition. After the fire, I only got to look down on it from above - from the peak. I still stand by my belief that Holy Jim is clean from the Falls turnoff up to Main Divide, since that slope didn't burn. But now perhaps we'll never know :(

    rocket6.jpg
     
    Oaken, OTHRider, pperrelle and 7 others like this.
  7. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    Moxie Mx3, SC Lizard & a Sutra
    Strava says… Holy Jim was ridden about a month ago. The guy made it down, and only mentioned horrible overgrowth. He didn’t say anything about damage.
     
    mike, pperrelle, Obsidian and 6 others like this.
  8. BonsaiNut

    BonsaiNut iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Troutman, NC
    Name:
    Greg P
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower CC XX1
    Three years without being brushed... on the north side of the canyon... it's gotta be a jungle.
     
    mike, pperrelle, Mikie and 4 others like this.
  9. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    HT, FS
    Spend more energy gassing up your car and driving up to nail some Tahoe goods, Doug. Less on pushing conspiracy theories on your riding buddies at IMTBTrails. :)
     
    Walleye, herzalot, pperrelle and 6 others like this.
  10. Bill

    Bill Member

    Location:
    Costa Mesa
    Name:
    Bill
    Current Bike:
    it's black
    I was pretty sure I saw the turnoff to xmas tree slope burn on live TV with the fire heading for the eastern portion of the trail to the ridgeline. I haven't looked on a burn map to see it that actually survived. Did that final eastern portion of the trail make it unscathed?

    And I'm in the middle of my contact list putting pressure on the USFS.

    -edit, to clarify I saw the southern side east of the split burn up and over to the xmas tree and presumed it went up both sides of the ridge past the xmas tree where the trail changes slopes after that.
     
    mike, pperrelle, Faust29 and 2 others like this.
  11. sir crashalot

    sir crashalot iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    laguna beach
    Name:
    gary fishman
    Current Bike:
    2018 banshee rune
    I think I remember that lower holy jim didnt actually burn-is that correct?
    Edit-I see BonsaiNut mentioned that
     
  12. Redman

    Redman iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Henderson, Nv
    Name:
    Kevin
    Current Bike:
    SC OG Hightower 29'r
    This sucks. I'd be willing to bet they have no intention of reopening, never did. Keep it closed since before the fire, there's a reason.
     
    mike, pperrelle, Faust29 and 2 others like this.
  13. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower

    Email works.
     
    pperrelle, Faust29 and Mikie like this.
  14. gunga din

    gunga din Member

    Name:
    steve villmer
    Fienstien can't even tell you what day it is let alone know where these trails are.
     
    pperrelle and Faust29 like this.
  15. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    North East Canada? , California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Ibis DV9, Santa Cruz Hightower
    herzalot, mike, pperrelle and 5 others like this.
  16. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    Moxie Mx3, SC Lizard & a Sutra
    That just hit me... It's almost exactly 3 years ago. @mtnbikej and I were at the peak the day before the fire on one of those 2 A.M. rides... We were about the last to ride down Holy Jim before the closure. :(

    This fire is what gave rise to the Wrightwood Night Ride. We were down in Laguna riding away from the smoke a few days later when the plan was hatched...

    5 August 2018 (R.I.P Green Lizard...)
    IMG_0073.jpeg

    6 August 2018

    IMG_0100.jpeg
     
    OTHRider, bvader, herzalot and 9 others like this.
  17. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    Moxie Mx3, SC Lizard & a Sutra
    Joplin is still accessible... And perfect for a hardtail.
     
    mike, pperrelle, Mikie and 2 others like this.
  18. sir crashalot

    sir crashalot iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    laguna beach
    Name:
    gary fishman
    Current Bike:
    2018 banshee rune
    Just complained about this to my wife and she, playing devils advocate, said, maybe this year being extremely dry and theres already fires everywhere they dont waint people, especially e-bikes with possibly malfunctionng batteries, out in that area strating more fires. but she agrres the lack of transparecy is crappy.
     
    Faust29, mike, pperrelle and 5 others like this.
  19. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower

    That’s giving the CNF too much credit for thinking. Less trails, less things to manage.

    when I complained to CNF about the truck on Motorway 2 months ago, the response I got was less than stellar. Basically it’s wasn’t their problem…talk to the Sheriff. When I mentioned the possibility of fires that could be sparked by vehicles driving on single track trails(like Motorway) the Response was basically a vehicle had never started a fire on Maple Springs. MS is 25’ wide and you don’t drive over dead mustard. They are so outta touch with the land they are paid to manage.
     
    herzalot, Faust29, mike and 5 others like this.
  20. sir crashalot

    sir crashalot iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    laguna beach
    Name:
    gary fishman
    Current Bike:
    2018 banshee rune
    Oh I agree. Like she said, devils advocate
     
    Faust29, mike, pperrelle and 3 others like this.
  21. pperrelle

    pperrelle Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Carlsbad
    Name:
    Paul
    Current Bike:
    Ripley V4, DV9 & Knolly Cache
    Probably not much longer. This doesn’t seem to be a reasonable closure any more………
     
    jdubb, Mikie, Faust29 and 1 other person like this.
  22. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    Location:
    pearl harbor
    Name:
    cagey
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    What am I missing? Trails on on Mother Earth. The earth did not burn. What would one need to do to repair the trail? I ride deer trails and I am sure they are a lot rougher than a groomed path. The station fire did the same thing. The trails were blocked by signs but that was all the damage. We seem to ride around all the other mess and keep on moving. Sure it is annoying not having the high speed expressway but somehow we manage.
    Happy trails in the wonder of creation
     
  23. Danimal

    Danimal iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    Epic Evo
    Access issues....
    Ebikes go where it's posted no ebikes, dogs get walked where it's posted NO Dogs, cars go where even 4x4 aren't allowed, moto's go where they aren't allowed.

    Don't think they'll give a rats ass if you ride the trails. Nothing seems to be enforced in the hills. Have at it.

    Me, I couldn't have fun if I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. but those who's job it is to watch out don't care.
     
  24. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower

    The fire burned through an area that hadn't burned in decades. We followed that up with one of the wettest winters we've had in a long time. Based on the mud flows that I saw down towards the bottom of the canyon.....there may be very little trail left to rehabilitate.

    Lower Holy Jim generally just needs a good brushing.....fortunately, it didn't burn, but it's in the middle of the fire closure.
    Trabuco Trail may have been annihilated. May have been ground zero for the mud flows.
    West Horsethief wasn't much wider than a goat trail and rough when it was good. Also would need a strong brushing.

    Not to mention we are now 3 years post fire with zero eradication of poison oak.....so I'd take a good guess that it's taking over the trails.
     
    Cyclotourist, mike, herzalot and 5 others like this.
  25. BonsaiNut

    BonsaiNut iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Troutman, NC
    Name:
    Greg P
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower CC XX1
    Lower Holy Jim below the falls had debris flows from the slopes and ravines on the right side of the canyon (looking up the canyon). I saw some photos from one of the cabin owners who explored up the trail, and there isn't any trail left in many areas. For example that foliage tunnel about 1/4 mile in now looks like a ground-hugging shrub with about 4' of scree piled beneath. I don't know about the trail sections between the creek crossings, but there were six or seven creek crossings that I'm sure are gone. However the foliage and trees didn't burn, so there is still shade and greenery, and once you climb out of the creek it should be clear.

    Funny how a cabin owner can hike all the way up to Main Divide and post about it on his blog, but access is blocked for the very people who normally maintain the trail.

    Have they even opened Main Divide south of the peak yet?
     
  26. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    Moxie Mx3, SC Lizard & a Sutra
    Just because he did it doesn't mean that it's allowed... It just means that he felt more entitled. Just like the local pro who rode through the Silverado closure after winning the Harding Time Trial.

    And no, Main Divide is still closed. Jason would be knocking out the Harding to San Juan loop if it was open... :gag: :D

    The closure from the Bobcat fire is set to expire in April 2022. I really hope we have better luck than the OC folks...
     
  27. TwoWheel Eric

    TwoWheel Eric Member

    Location:
    Orange County
    Name:
    Eric
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley V4
    Anyone know who the Congressman/woman is for that area....that would be a good person to contact rather than the Congress person where I live.
     
  28. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower

    The House Representative for that area is Katie Porter
    https://porter.house.gov/contact/

    Laurie Davies is the State Assembly Rep for Trabuco Canyon
    https://ad73.asmrc.org/

    Pat Bates is the State Senator for the area
    https://bates.cssrc.us/
     
    mike, kingaucho, Cyclotourist and 4 others like this.
  29. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    State politicians - both assembly and senate - are irrelevant to National Forest issues. National Forest is under Department of Agriculture (why? I don't know either) and Ag is an executive department. Congress gives (or fails to give) them the money to do their legally mandated duties. Your congresscritter and even better, rule-making hearings, are much more likely to produce results.

    This issue gets deep into the weeds of policy and rules. Why we let them get away with it is beyond me, but we do. As @DangerDirtyD would put it, it's a long road a-hoe. Only with determined, repeated, polite, detailed, and regulation-based back and forth will you accomplish what you seek.

    Start with 16 USC 471 and move on from there.
     
    herzalot, Derkderkall, mike and 4 others like this.
  30. 406

    406 Member

    Location:
    San Diego
    Name:
    Brian
    Current Bike:
    Ripmo
    ^^^this. I'm guessing none of the SoCal House members are going to be on committees involving Dept of Ag, so they might not be paying much attention to USFS and would be good to schedule in person appointments with a Rep's office.

    We have big issues with the CNF in San Diego too...crazy that the Palomar Ranger district has less than 1 mile of multiuse trail. That is a lot of land with no mtb recreation in a county of 3 million! We had an awesome plan for ridge/hills north of Ramona and new ranger shot it down.

    Both parties have deprived USFS of funding and they are almost just a fire fighting agency, so sad. Would be nice if someone in the House could slip several million into the huge infrastructure bill for USFS trails(I guy can dream).
     
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