Mammoth M/C Meeting Minutes

9/22/2011


Casper 


Members in Attendance:  Adam (Dr. weird), Jason, Talen, John, Isabel, Big John, James, Kim, Arya, Brian, Karina, and Joe.


Guests:  ”Taco,” Casper, and Johnston

 

Compiled by JC, MMC treasurer

5:12 meeting called to order at Commerce Center Garage.

Reports: As usual plenty of reports were given on the current road closures.  These closures are now becoming daily intrusions for everyone who enjoys recreation in the Inyo National Forest front country.  Doesn’t matter who you are – serious consequences are taking place and not going un-noticed.  Below is an email chain that was generated my MammothMC individuals.  We expected more feedback from the USFS and FOI but so far it hasn’t come forth.

 

It started with the president’s PDF regarding mountain bike closures, see below:

Mountain Bike Trails Getting Lumped Together with Motorized Trails, and Everyone Suffers!

 

To: John Kazmierski, Mike Shlaffman, Stacy Corless, and friends

I’m sad to report… that the once beautiful forest that surrounds Shady Rest Park is now starting to look like the Hollywood Bowl parking lot on a Saturday night.   Barricade type closures are strewn all about the forest and narrow plastic signs can now be found everywhere – announcing things like “Dead End” or “Closed road.”

 

 

Although unsightly, it’s not unusual to see this “blockade” type closure… (Pictured right)

 

All over the forest. 

Stacy Corless once told our club that she very much dislikes these signs (below) - you could’ve fooled me!  They’re everywhere.

 

 

Anyways, the point of this letter isn’t to just complain about what’s going on out there, as I’m sure you already know how I feel.  The point is to document this ever increasing “close happy” behavior that is NOW affecting more than just motorized users.

This particular closure is unique due to the fact that it has also closed a once popular and well used mountain bike trail.  And instead of taking the time to preserve this trail for mtn bike users, it was altogether… closed

And on to the next one.  


Notice the arrow in picture above - now directing bike riders to the left.  Actually, the arrow is supposed to be pointed right, but the “work crew” responsible for this closure simply spun the arrow to the left - misleading mountain bikers, and directing them off into oblivion, and away from the once well used mtn bike trail. 

What’s really sad, and ironic about this situation, is that I recently heard a radio commercial (John Wentworth from the MLTPA), praising the opening of the new Panorama Dome Mtn bike trail…  This is great news! 

But what about our existing trail system?  Shall we turn a blind eye and let some of it fall victim to Travel Management? 

This road is now off limits to not only mtn biking, but to hiking, dog walking, and everything else non-motorized – and who’s being held accountable? 

Notice more mtn bike arrows (pictured below)… 

 

 

Travel Management was never intended to “block” other user groups from accessing these forest roads - and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this particular trail was being used by bikes - and no concessions were made.   Bottom line… Destroying a long established mountain bike trail and calling it Travel Management is not only irresponsible but probably illegal.

 

 

 I’m happy that the Friends of the Inyo has created a business out of closing roads, but they need to take a long hard look at the quality of their closures, not just how many they can close in a day.  These are our public trails and they need to be treated as such.

As a resident of Mammoth Lakes, I’m asking that these obvious problems with the “implementation” process be addressed immediately.   I realize that this is a touchy subject, but allowing groups to “hurry” through the process would be the irresponsible thing to do. 

These “all inclusive” closures are not helping our community, and they’re not helping any kind of understanding between user groups.  They’re destructive, ugly, and an obvious waste of tax payer money. 

There IS a better way, and as adults I’m sure we can all figure it out..

  

Sincerely,

James Connolly

President

Mammoth Motorcycle Club   

And the e-mail respose from FOI:

Hi James--

Thanks for sending the letter and voicing your concerns. As an organization, Friends of the Inyo (FOI) advocates for sustainable, responsible recreation on the Eastern Sierra’s public lands, and works to make that a reality through on-the-ground stewardship. Motorized travel management implementation on the Inyo National Forest (INF) is an example of that—our board and staff participated in the planning process, and as an agency partner, FOI is helping to get some of the necessary work done (our role is in restoration, or closing routes not added to the system) to implement the decision. The work that FOI’s crew and volunteers do is performed according to very specific guidelines, with clear reporting procedures and under the direct supervision of INF staff.

That doesn’t mean it’s all perfect all the time; regarding our crew’s recent work around Shady Rest—I’ll go take a look at these closures today and follow up with INF staff. If errors were made by our crew, we will work to fix those errors right away.

 If you or any others copied on this email have concerns or questions about any of FOI’s work, I’d like to hear them. Please contact me via email or by calling me at 760-920-0190. For more information about travel management implementation, Marty Hornick, INF Trail Program Coordinator (760-873-2461 and
mhornick@fs.fed.us ) put together a great presentation on the status of implementation (including what type of work is being done and where).

INF staff can speak best to this point, but I do want to note that as part of the travel management process, there is an opportunity to develop closed routes for non-motorized use, such as mountain biking.

Finally, my two cents: I acknowledge the shock of seeing things change on the ground, especially at a popular, very accessible place like Shady Rest. I understand that you’d feel frustrated to see a multi-use/mountain bike route be closed as part of an effort to address motorized use. I feel frustrated about some of the things I see out there, too. As a frequent user of the forest lands around Shady Rest, I’ve noticed tremendous route proliferation in the area. Sure, I learned through trail trial and error to negotiate the myriad unsigned routes over the years, watching as routes widened, eroded and new routes formed. Personally, I can’t accept that this is the type of experience or level of management we should settle for on our beautiful public lands. And you’re right, I don’t like the way carsonite signs look—but I think having signs in place that match a map is better than no signs at all. I wholeheartedly agree with the last line in your letter—I’d just add that we have to start somewhere.  

Best regards,
Stacy

 

The Presedente’s e-mail response:

Stacy, I appreciate the quick response!

We're also an organization that advocates for sustainable and responsible recreation - Dirtbike riding is just one of many things we do (hence my initial letter).  We also participated in the so called "Travel Management" process too, so I can assume we both agree on what actually happened... 

·         Existing routes and public input was either used or ignored, and many trails were not included in the "inventory."  This sad fact pretty much sums up the process.  

·         Routes that provided positive user experiences were overlooked as well.

·         Promises were made and not kept  (i.e. after inventory was 100% complete, then classification would begin...  a lie)

·         We were also told that the closing of roads would include public participation... (another lie)

·         Sticking to Deadlines were more important than doing an adequate job.

I can beat this dead horse some more,  but what's the point?   What's done is done ( NOT to be confused with.. "a job well done").

Anyways, The point of my initial letter was actually addressing something entirely different - and there seems to be some confusion on this issue. 

You said, 

" I understand that you’d feel frustrated to see a multi-use/mountain bike route be closed as part of an effort to address motorized use. I feel frustrated about some of the things I see out there, too."

 

Well, I'm glad you can empathize... But the fact of the matter is that "Travel Management" was only intended to address motorized travel.  Wasn't it?  You just can't throw in a few mtn bike trails, a hiking trail or two, a couple horse trails, and a parking lot (Inyo Craters)... and just say "I understand how you feel."  I'm Sorry, but It's not your organizations decision to make and you cant change the purpose of Travel Management.  ALL of these roads that your organization is responsible for closing (whether they were existing mtn bike roads or not) are currently OPEN for NON MOTORIZED USE.  One could legally ride his horse, or be pushed in a wheelchair, or walk, or ride his mtn bike on any of these so called "closed" roads and trails.  In fact, these dead end roads aren't dead ended at all - they continue on (just not motorized).   It's your choice... you may choose to ignore this fact, but an organization that advocates responsible use wouldn't do that.

You also mentioned that you've  "noticed tremendous route proliferation in the area."  And that you "can’t accept (or settle for ) this type of experience or level of management in on our beautiful public lands."  

I don’t mean this to be offensive, but when was the last time you visited the forest surrounding Shady Rest Park? Hate to break it to you, but things might actually be worse than your previous trip...  I'd suggest you make the trip out there to see for yourself.  

In the meantime, let me tell you what's going on: 

Sign pollution is everywhere.  And it's starting to look like Jawbone Cyn.  I agree with you, signs could be a great idea.  Since you're already spending the money (and pounding the sign), how about using sign that actually directs users to an "experience" (i.e. a fun loop, sight seeing area, a point of interest, etc...)? , wouldn't it make a little more sense to everyone???  And  wouldn't it actually look like someone cared about the forest - and about the people that come here to recreate.  A sign that says "DEAD END 1S305," or whatever, means nothing - to anyone (especially tourists).          I've said this about 100 times, and I'm not quite sure why this is so hard to understand...     


Along with The signs, you'll find the mess that the work crews created (i.e. moving dead trees around, collecting pine needles, pounding in logs and plastic signs into the ground, etc).  This mess has disturbed the forest 10 times more than any OHV can ever do. Sorry, but it's true.  Some closures look so "hurried" and "messy" that users have created new routes around them.  Can you blame them?  I'm sure they're just as confused about what's going on as I am.   Seems to be a waste of resources to me...

As I mentioned before, "tree barricades"  are everywhere as well.  It's difficult to even walk my dogs around the barricades (a legal activity), and in some cases it's (nearly) impossible to ride my mtn bike around them as well (another legal activity).. And I've seen other dog walkers and Mtn bikers having trouble too.

You'll also find the Mtn bike trail (stated in my initial letter)l that is often used by the Village Championship race series  -  now closed  in the name of "Travel Management."  An error in judgment I guess?  

All in all, it most of the forest behind Shady is looking like someone has purchased the land and decided to close all the roads so NOBODY can ever use them again!  It's embarrassing actually, that this is what has to happen in the name of "management."  

 

This is how we have to start?  As an "adult" (I use that term loosely) and as a user of multiple forms of recreational equipment, I can easily think of a better place to start.  

James

Mammoth M/C

 p.s.  For those of you that have asked me...  yes, I do have "better" things to do than to write long drawn out e-mails!  LOL! Thanks for asking.  Also,  I did appreciate the two individuals that thanked me today for writing my letter.  It seems that they don't have the time, but appreciated someone who did.  

 

And lastly…

(below response from treasurer, MammothMC)

Hi Stacy, since you put it out there, yes, I have some concerns about your work.  On a weekend outing on the Crater Loop, I noticed several new road closures namely system roads off of system road 01S35.  These roads were mostly in the 300 series and are listed below:
01S301
01S304?
01S305
01S537
 
Besides closing/barricading access to system roads that have been in use for over 25 years by our family, even longer historical access has been shut down.  Two destinations are now longer accessible, red lava vents/pits (in the olden days these were used for cindering, road making, and rustic decor) and a small hill-top view point looking east towards Horseshoe Canyon which was the most picturesque view-point around - small hills block out the 395, and lone Jeffery Pines create depth and distance, simply amazing.  The lava pits were on a sustainable system road drivable by any honda civic (topography is basically flat and roads very firm), and was a great destination for looking around for lava bombs and broken tails.  These roads were for everyone to drive on, not quad, bike, jeep, or UTV specific. 
 
Now shutting out views and access to lava pits hardly creates an unsafe environment, right?  I think we can all agree on that.
 
However, there was another historic use of these roads.  Sheepherding, or hooved locusting depending on your personal bias.  The herder has been shut out, of course he is free to walk in, but can't bring in his trailer, supplies, or water troughs.  So what happened?  Because his valley is now closed for "business" he set up camp on the Crater Loop OHV trail.
 
Long story short, we now have a 130+ pound Great Pyrenees chasing my kids down the sandy trail.  F***king dangerous, anything could have happened, fortunately nothing did.

I personally can't accept this type of experience on our beautiful public lands and will hold your group and the USFS responsible for creating a crowded and dangerous situation in your zeal to implement the travel management plan.
 
Marty, perhaps you can chime in and let us know why these system roads were snuffed. (map attached)
 
Additional thoughts: closures are popping up daily, FOI is making changes to the forest and then some at a rate far quicker than any proliferation ever took place.  Perfectly fine routes, destinations, and connectors are being closed to all.  Most of us will walk cross country or through the woods than to pick a path through your forest litter/closures.  Access is being denied, to motorized and non-motorized alike.  My family is 30% motorized and 70% non motorized in our enjoyment of the Inyo, but unfortunately this travel management serves only to close access to all.
 
Imagine that a club with a motorized slant (say MammothMC) was now in charge of the wilderness backcountry and we starting taking pieces away from it that the FOI enjoyed.  Your access, history, safety, and all the while we did it with your money. 

 
Shady Rest: I've also watched roads get wider and new routes form, but over 15 years however it's hardly upsetting to me, it's Shady Rest -- most people's first interface with the largest Jefferey Pine forest on the planet.  Sustainable user created routes are good, some of my most favorite hiking trails are user created and don't exist on anyone's maps -- and they make life worth living.  Remind me not to share ;-)
 
Exception to Shady Rest: there was a really bad OHV area halfway up Sawmill cut-off where some dirt bikers and quadders had made a track in response to the Mammoth Track being locked up.  That area, although user created, wasn't sustainable and rehabbed.  That I saw happen literally within a couple summers, and it was true proliferation.  Same with the geothermal happenings out back there too, probably even a greater impact on the land.  But otherwise, Shady Rest is just victim to slight urban creep, closing multiple use walking/riding/dog trails feels like backlash, as if the commoner doesn't know what is in his/her best interest.
 

Solutions: I know it's one thing to complain and critique, another to create a solution.  I'd suggest shelving the road closures for the season and focus on getting your crews into the backcountry where real work and maintenance needs to take place.  Our front country has a wider user group that isn't being respected, no matter how much the process has been explained.  I've personally participated in front country management discussions and meetings for over 15 years to back up my views.  Too many closures are forcing conflicts between users, creating safety problems like we experienced last Sunday, and are ultimately going impact the trails that we have left.
 
 -John.

 

 

 

There has been no further respose from FOI.  The FS has contacted me about these e-mails and they are looking into the Mtn bike closure, and we are set to meet up and look at them sometime next week… 

We shall keep you posted. 

 

Back to the meeting minutes:

Our Meeting Dinner: included no-nitrate dogs, sausages, grilled jalapenos, salad, cookies, and beer.  It was an Oktoberfest theme with plenty of in-kind contributions from James (Chicken), Kim (Beer), Joe (Cookies), and John (Brats). 

 

Dinner reports: Joe spoke a little about the track and how a representative from the State of  CA Green Sticker fund is coming to Mammoth to see the travel management results for himself.

 

Other club members were making final trip plans for the June Lake to Hawthorne, NV ride which was taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 24 & 25, 2011.

 

Congratulations to Brian and Karina for another re-up of membership dues.

 

Bills to pay: $22.78 -- Vons dinner meeting supplies

 

Treasury report: $739

 

7:30 meeting adjourned

…Some stayed much later