I had a great conversation with Karl Tallman - the interim Sector Superintendent which covers Big Basin, Fall Creek and Henry Cowell. Most of the discussion focused on a letter that I would later receive that acted as a response to our open dialog request.
I just want to say that our conversation was really positive. If you read no further I would just like to mention the major outcome: the number one priority of the permanent sector superintendent is to create more trail opportunities for mountain bikes. Let me repeat that: THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY OF THE MOUNTAIN SECTOR IS TO CREATE MORE MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS. We have started this process and there will be meetings and follow up.
This is a huge concession to the mountain biking community and the recognition that mountain biking has been increasing throughout the parks. This is not going to be a quick or easy process and be prepared for setbacks and push back from other community members. However, there is definitely a new level of reaching out to the mountain biking community from our State Parks District so future access looks positive.
Our District State Parks has been filling their vacant positions recently and they have a new trail and roads co-ordinator, an environmental scientist and a couple of part time resource ecologists. You also know that they have filled all their vacant Ranger positions and are actively seeking a maintenance chief. Most importantly, they are actively looking for a permanent Sector Superintendent and they anticipate that the position will be filled sometime in April. These are the people we will be working with in order to create more legitimate riding opportunities.
What they don’t have is funding and the mountain biking community can help make up for that shortfall with donations, labor and trail design and building expertise. The local riders and bike industry should partner with our land managers to create a legitimate network of trails throughout the county.
We are looking at a very bright future for mountain biking in Santa Cruz County. The BLM Coast Dairies properties and our local state parks have land managers who are friendly to mountain biking. There has been some great work by Jesse Nickel with the jump/skills community. The local bike industry is world renowned. The Amgen Tour of California has shown the City, Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce that cycling and events is a huge economic opportunity and are looking for ways to capitalize on it. It’s a good time to be a cyclist in Santa Cruz County.
And now for a plea...
A large part of the reason we got such generous concessions from our District State Parks is because you have supported the efforts of MBOSC. I’m just the tip of the arrow who can poke the beast but you are the wood behind the arrow to help me fully penetrate the belly of the beast. I speak for all of you and when we have more representation then we become a much higher priority for our local land managers.
If you are not current member of MBOSC then I ask that you join. We would like to make a donation to IMBA California - who has been instrumental in gaining these concessions - and we would like to fund future bike related projects in the Santa Cruz area.
In the past month or so since the UC/9 enforcement program started I have received many messages of support and we have many new memberships. I would like to thank all of you for keeping me motivated and fighting for your right to ride. Mountain bike advocacy is a frustrating and lonely job but I am proud to represent all of you and you have inspired me to work for the rights of mountain bikers in Santa Cruz County.
Thanks again for your support.