Sunday, April 11, 2010

Your Donations at Work: Soquel Demonstration State Forest Parking Lot

Soquel Demonstration State Forest (a.k.a Demo, SDF or SDSF) has some of the most legal technical trails in the Bay Area and is managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (a.k.a Cal Fire or CDF). The forest manager, Ed Orre, is supportive of mountain biking so it's a place where a lot of mountain bikers and advocates like to invest their time and efforts to make the trails first rate. Unfortunately, CDF is a state agency and is impacted by the same dysfunctional budgeting process that all state agencies must face.

Back in November we learned there was a lot of pressure on SDSF from a variety of sources.
  • The budget had been severely cut and staffing levels had been reduced by at least 80% since 2006
  • The parking lot has been the site of a lot of weekend raves and parties
  • Fish and Game had concerns about sediment runoff from the parking lot entering Soquel creek
  • Redwood Empire owns the parking lot (SDSF has an easement) and are indifferent to the needs of mountain bikers.
  • Both Redwood Empire and CDF will be doing timer harvesting this spring and summer and will use the parking lot as a staging area.
Mountain bikers have enjoyed the use of the Redwood Empire parking lot as a safe and secure way to get ready for a ride and enjoy a post ride beverage with friends. The parking lot is also the scene of great bike demos hosted by local shops like Trail Head Cyclery which include beer and BBQs. Unfortunately, due to some of the issues outlined above the parking lot is currently closed and we must take our chances by parking along Highland Way.

Fortunately, the mountain biking community are doing things to mitigate some of these problem. We held the first Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival featuring the California premier of Women of Dirt to raise money for the parking lot environmental mitigation project.

We are happy to say that we are putting your money to work in order to address the parking lot issues. MBOSC Vice-President Daryl Breuninger, Forest Manager Ed Orre and Erosion Control Professional Steve Butler met in January to assess the scope of the environmental mitigation project. MBOSC member and volunteer Drew Perkins provided detailed topographic maps of the parking lot based on elevation data using a very precise GPS in an airplane shooting a laser at the ground many tens of thousands of times a second. These topo maps were created by Drew and donated to the erosion control specialist. Thanks Drew!

The contractor Steve Butler came up with an erosion control plan and submitted it to Ed, Stewards of Soquel Forest and MBOSC. The solution includes re-graveling the surface, installing parking control logs to prevent "wild driving" (which creates sedimentation), constraining parking areas and adding culverts to direct the runoff. Your donations from the Bike Festival allowed us to make a down payment on the plan and the work.

Unfortunately, we didn't raise enough funds from the Bike Festival to cover the costs of this project. We still regard the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival a huge success since we met a lot of our social and organizational goals. We made a profit and met our minimum fundraising goals but we could have made a lot more given the value of the donated goods. Our expenses for the festival were high yet we didn't charge anyone for participating. All the Festival income came from movie ticket sales and the raffle. We had a lot of people and companies donate goods and we offered complementary tickets to these companies and the Pro riders who participated. In all we comped over 100 tickets ($1000!!) and we also handicapped ourselves by not allowing the MBOSC officers and event organizers to participate in the raffle (good for about $500-700). We had a lot of fun and brought the community together and established the reputation of MBOSC to run logistically complicated event in very little time (it was 6 weeks from inception to execution!). However, a movie and raffle is not the most effective mechanism to raise funds. We are still learning about effective fund raising. We will probably use a silent auction to raise money from some of the big ticket donations so we can raise more funds next time. Anyway, I digress...

MBOSC is committed to fund the environmental mitigation project for the parking lot regardless of the funding source. This can be through increased memberships or by donations. Titus has generously donated a Titus El Guapo (a ~$4700 bike!) to help us raise funds for the SDSF parking lot project.

Please support SDSF by becoming a member or donating to MBOSC and the El Guapo raffle. You can donate to MBOSC at We will do the drawing for the bike at the MBOSC Booth #239 at the Sea Otter Classic.

Thank you for supporting mountain biking in Santa Cruz County! We love mountain biking and we love Santa Cruz. Mountain biking in Santa Cruz is the best and it's up to the mountain biking community to keep it that way.

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