Mountain bikers, environmentalists clash over Angeles National Forest plan

The Mountain Biking Community.. (paraphrase of Niemoller)

First they came for the loggers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a logger (and timber industry is “corporate.)

Then they came for the people who wanted fuel treatments,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t live in a WUI (and they shouldn’t really be living there)

Then they came for the OHV users,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t have an OHV (and those things are noisy and smelly)

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Here’s the link.

I don’t get the thing about wheelchairs based on the story.

16 thoughts on “Mountain bikers, environmentalists clash over Angeles National Forest plan”

  1. You know what Sharon? For someone who regularly preaches to all us about how to treat other people in words and actions you sure have a very passive aggressive streak in your own self. Do you fail to see that?

    Sure, let’s talk about the issue at hand here, but to try and have a discussion about these issues when you re-write a poem like this is pretty tough. I mean, who does the “They” refer to here in your little poem? In the original it is the Nazi’s, right?

    • Matthew, I’m hoping I am not passive-aggressive. I was trying to describe how it feels to some people. I don’t think we can really understand people who talk about things like federal lands being the “King’s Forest” without understanding how they feel. I talk to them but many aren’t the “sharing feelings” types.

      I wrote more colorfully than usual. But others often write more colorfully and use stronger words than I. Using that example probably bordered on tasteless, because of its original context. For that I apologize. But I’m sure I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings and it wasn’t personally directed at anyone or any individual organization. I would rather be tasteless (once?) than generally passive-aggressive.

      I was trying to describe what it feels like sometimes when it seems like some folks are never satisfied. You gotta wonder what the ultimate end-game is. For example, when I was working on Colorado Roadless, the OHV goups were very concerned, which seemed unnecessary on its face because the regulation did not address OHV’s. But the groups felt that this was just a first step and once people had roadless finalized, they would go for wilderness designation with the idea of kicking them out. I wonder if the OHV folks were right all along.

      So we have to consider it either way – Mountain Bikes are only 20 miles, but who decides if they go or stay? If you argue it’s not much to lose, it’s not much to gain.

  2. Sharon, having just read the entire article I have to say that your little re-write of the poem is even more passive aggressive and outlandish than I first thought.

    Below is the entire article which anyone can read for themselves and learn a little more about context surround the actual issues at hand.

    As anyone can clearly see, it seems like the Forest Service preferred alternative wouldn’t really change mountain biking patterns at all in the area, as they are “cherry stemming” the trails around the proposed Wilderness. And even Forest Service alternative 3, which they agency doesn’t prefer, but apparently some environmental groups do, would only close 20 miles of mountain biking trails in an areas where it’s very steep, rugged and also has a riparian area.

    So, looks to me like the preferred alternative is to close no trails to mountain bikers, in fact seems like the “cheery stemming” has satisfied them. And even the alternative the environmentalists prefer would only close 20 miles of trails in what sounds like a little used area.

    Yep, that’s pretty much exactly like having Nazi’s break into your house at night, load grandma and grandpa into one train car, mom and dad and the kids into another train car, and take the family to the concentration camps and gas you a few weeks later. WTF?


    For the past seven years, the The U.S. Forest Service has been attempting to find a way to protect 37 roadless areas while keeping the public happy. More protection in the form of wilderness zoning would help the California condor, the California gnatcatcher, least bell’s vireo, the mountain yellow-legged frog and the Santa Ana sucker fish by limiting uses within these sensitive species’ habitat.

    But in 2006, the state resources agency and environmental groups, including The Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club, sued saying the Forest Service was doing a poor job protecting these precious lands. Later, the two sides settled, agreeing to zone more roadless areas into “back county non-motorized” zones and as “recommended wilderness” areas.

    This week, the public got its first glimpse into a compromise plan that amends the original, flawed plan and draft environmental impact statement. About 40 people came to the Angeles National Forest Headquarters Tuesday afternoon to view maps and ask questions of U.S. Forest Service managers.

    The Forest Service prefers Alternative 2, which would reclassify about 40,000 acres within the 650,000-acre Angeles National Forest, including Fish Canyon and Salt Creek in the Castaic area and two areas of the West Fork of the San Gabriel River located directly north of the communities of the San Gabriel Valley. About 18,218 acres would be added to the Cucamonga Wilderness and Raywood Flats near the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
    A wilderness designation is the most protective zone possible for forest lands and requires an act of Congress to implement. Wilderness areas allow hiking, fishing, hunting and horseback riding but does not allow off-roading, any development such as solar panels, cell phone towers or buildings. It also prohibits mountain biking, which is where much of the controversy lies with the latest amendment.

    The Forest Service wants to turn 40,000 acres of the Castaic area into recommended wilderness, but has drawn the lines around some rugged mountain biking trails, a process known as “cherry stemming.” However, Alternative 3 would reclassify 525,472 acres as wilderness areas in the following amounts per forest: Angeles (67,715 acres); Cleveland (71,991 acres); Los Padres (338,011 acres) and San Bernardino (47,755 acres). Alternative 3 would add five times the amount of land into the most restrictive zones.

    “The biggest concern of the mountain biking community is keeping the back country non-motorized status (in these areas),” said Mitch Marich of Pasadena, a member of the Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association. “We believe that is sufficient protection. ”

    Justin Seastrand, environmental coordinator for the Forest Service, said about 19-20 miles of mountain biking trails would be lost under Alternative 3, but only in the Castaic area.

    John Monsen, a volunteer with the Sierra Club and an environmental consultant, said the terrain in that area is so steep that mountain biking is not recommended. “It’s a bad idea there. It’s so steep and nearly impossible. Plus, this is in a riparian area,” he said, meaning such activity could damage the stream.

    The Sierra Club and the group San Gabriel Mountains Forever support Alternative 3, which includes a wilderness designation for about 4,000 acres along the West Fork of the San Gabriel River, while the Forest Service’s “Alternative 2” does not. (Alternative 1 is a no-change option).

    Seastrand said the West Fork doesn’t qualify for the wilderness designation because it is too small, and has a road and Edison power lines running along the northern boundary. He also said the handicapped fishing platforms make it a popular spot for veterans groups to fish for wild trout, the only place in the Angeles where wild trout run.

    He called the environmentalists wanting wilderness restrictions “a minority population” and said more people prefer more development along the West Fork, not less.

    Environmental groups called the Forest Service reasoning into question. They say any wilderness designation always allows for wheelchair access.

    “When the Forest Service doesn’t recommend an area, they bring out the wilderness cliches,” Monsen said. “One of those is that an area doesn’t qualify because it is not large enough. That is not an actual standard in The Wilderness Act. Also, nothing in the act mentions power lines. “

    • Matthew, maybe you can help me.. if it’s wilderness and the road and parking area are “cherry stemmed,” then the wheelchairs are OK regardless of designation. But wheelchairs don’t go far (generally) so there must be a parking lot fairly close. But parking lots are not in the wilderness are they? That’s what I was confused about.

      PS my late husband was a double amputee, so I know something experientially about wheelchairs on National Forests.

      • Nope, sorry, I can’t help you on your question Sharon, but I have a feeling that the Forest Service employee quoted in the article can:

        Justin Seastrand
        Project Manager
        Angeles National Forest
        701 North Santa Anita Avenue
        Arcadia, CA 91006
        phone 626-574-5278

  3. What’s next?? Chaparral National Monument?? Just because an area doesn’t have any better use, that doesn’t mean it deserves a Wilderness designation. Certainly, much of those lands are steep, brushy and “oak-ey”. I call them “Scenic Burn Zones”… or SBZ’s (for Bob!). Like in the other post about the Ventana Wilderness, it might be better to keep some flexibility, while still protecting against destructive proposals. The bigger danger is having millions of people living along its edges. In the end, there aren’t many good options.

    • Larry, wold it be fair to point out that one person’s destructive proposal is another person’s restoration project?

      “Scenic Burn Zone” Ha!

      • It would also be fair to point out that there are viable middle-of-the-road solutions, too. I don’t think DC is going to cut loose more funding for the Angeles NF but, I do think they need to do more fuels work than they have been doing. It is very costly and the stakes are very high. I think the Station Fire was a huge wake-up call.

        Whatever happens…. happened!

        Was it a harsh lesson that won’t be heeded?

  4. Sharon says “I was trying to describe what it feels like sometimes when it seems like some folks are never satisfied. You gotta wonder what the ultimate end-game is.”

    This oft repeated argument makes me want to bang my head against the wall. The most frustrating part is that Sharon and the anti-roadless crowd seem incapable of role reversal and can’t imagine their opponents making the exact same argument.

    With so much public land available for motorized rec and biking, why aren’t these groups ever satisfied? Makes you wonder what the REAL end game is. Roads, motorized access and bikes everywhere? 20 miles of mountain bike trails/roads is just the first step. Once they get a road or trail in the forest they’ll claim historic use and work to preclude the possibility of any further roadless/Wilderness management. That is Sharon’s exact “never satisfied” argument in reverse.

    Also it’s interesting to see that Nazi comparisons are okay on this blog as long as they’re directed at the right people.

    • Josh- Gosh, where should I start?
      First, I am not anti-roadless. I even have a soft spot in my heart for the 2001 Rule, but like anything it’s not perfect. I spent 7 years of my life working on Colorado Roadless (maybe it was 6 but it felt like 7).

      Wow.. Sharon and the anti-roadless crow.. Wow.

      I neither mountain bike (too scary) nor OHV (too noisy). Here is what I observe. There are good OHV people and bad OHV people. Good OHV people ride on trails and don’t go off road. Bad OHV people do. Good mountain bikers don’t run over horses, dogs or people. Bad mountain bikers do.

      OHV’s have been around for a while so good OHV people want to keep their trails and make loops.

      Mountain bike capabilities have increased recently so they want to be on more trails and have trails made.

      But if you’re talking about good OHV or MB people, this really isn’t about the environmental impacts. It’s really about… your or my preference not to see them.

      If you’re talking about bad people.. well maybe we should try law enforcement before we try exclusion as a way of dealing with it.

      Brian, do you want to weigh in on this?

      Now as to the quote…
      I think there is a difference between using that quote and

      “Michael Garrity of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies compared several local timber companies to Nazis and compared Montanans who partner with them to Nazi collaborators”
      and it’s not just me.. Wikipedia thinks so as well, as when you look up the quote you find

      His statement, sometimes presented as a poem, is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy.

      I didn’t write that, Wikipedia did “Describing the dangers of political apathy.”.”frequently quoted”

      You can think it’s the same thing as Garrity calling timber companies Nazis (did he really do that?) but I don’t agree. I told Matthew that perhaps it was tasteless, but if it’s frequently quoted, maybe not so much.

      • Gosh, Sharon, where do I start?

        “Keep digging” I guess is where.

        Anyway, as completely “off topic” and frankly tasteless and bizarre as your re-write of the Nazi poem to somehow describe the actions of environmentalists in the context of debate about the Angeles National Forest plan is….I do have to thank Josh for his point at the end of the comment, which highlights your hypocrisy on the issue.

        After all, last summer Sharon, you wrote: “I find any Holocaust analogies in this context offensive, as I’ve said before.”

        Yep, but apparently you don’t find your own Holocaust analogies in this case to be completely out of context and offensive.

        Anyway, I’m glad that we can shift the focus from the actual issues at play with the Angles National Forest, over to Sharon’s re-write of a poem about Nazi and then waaaay back to Garrity’s poor choice of analogy last year.

        Yep, Garrity made a bad analogy. But nope, he never called anyone a Nazi. That may be what The Wilderness Society and Montana Wilderness Association (and apparently Sharon) would have you believe, but it’s not the truth.

        The fact that Sharon doesn’t actually quote directly what Garrity says, but instead quotes MWA’s Brian Sybert false, made up re-write of what Garrity actually said is ridiculous, but also telling.

        Here’s what Garrity actually said, which proves that Bryan Sybert either has no reading comprehension skills, or is just a skilled liar. Perhaps both, I suppose.

        Unfortunately, a disturbing trend has appeared as big environmental groups such as the Montana Wilderness Association and the Wilderness Society increasingly take foundation money to “collaborate” with timber corporations. And much like the Vichy French helped the Nazis occupy France during World War II, these collaborators now have to face the harsh and shameful legacy of what they have done and continue to do.

        Now, for the love of Gaia, can we please get back to the issues at hand with the Angeles NF plan and how it relates to proposed wilderness, mountain biking, etc?

      • Yea, I’ll chime in.
        I think I’m going to do a April Fools Day blurb from BlueRibbon Coalition about us ORV people wanting to ride everywhere. Maybe we’ll do a press release demanding a supercross track in Yellowstone National Park. It’ll be a hoot!

        Virtually all national and state based OHV groups supported the 2005 Travel Management Rule that limited OHV use to designated roads trails and areas. Ditto for similar BLM planning directives. This policy resulted in tens of thousands of miles of roads and trails being closed.

        In light of this, I think your comment could be reconsidered.

        Speaking for myself… my “endgame” is to keep what we have today. Sadly, I doubt that’s going to happen.

  5. Sharon, first I apologize for being unclear. I didn’t mean to imply that you were anti-roadless. Perhaps my word choice was poor, but I wrote “Sharon and the anti-roadless crowd” to indicate two different entities that make one-sided use of the ‘never satisfied’ argument in relation to roadless/Wilderness debates.

    The point that I apparently failed to make was that the ‘never satisfied’ argument holds no water as it could be applied to many groups occupying many different positions on the roadless/Wilderness or multi-use debates. For example,

    “good OHV people want to keep their trails and make loops.”

    Make loops? Will they never be satisfied? What is the real end game here?

    “Mountain bike capabilities have increased recently so they want to be on more trails and have trails made.”

    More trails? Why won’t these insatiable bikers just be happy with what they’ve got already? What happens when bike capabilities increase more, do they keep pressing for more biking in more areas? What is the real agenda here?

    I think this is a silly argument no matter what user or groups you plug into the equation. But it’s been my observation that on this blog, only enviro groups are the focus of the ‘never satisfied’ argument. And only enviro groups are the focus of speculation about their (nefarious?) real motives, or “ultimate endgame”. I’m all in favor of skepticism and scrutiny, but it should be applied broadly.

    • Josh, I get that and I appreciate the challenge of going deeper on the “never satisfied” argument and what I meant.

      I have to do something else right now (starting tonight is a big time for my other hobby, church music) but will respond tomorrow.

  6. Josh.. There are two things here. One is that SOME environmental groups SOMETIMES up what they want DURING the process after the decision is changed to incorporate their original “requirements.”

    But what this appears to be is a more general trend across decisions. Well, we want the area to be did we say roadless, we want it to be wilderness. Did we say grazing was OK in wilderness? Well, now we are not so sure..

    Is the end game hikers only? Or even getting rid of them, because after all hikers can do a fair amount of “trammeling.” and can impact wildlife. It can feel like once these groups get what they want, they just want more, but the “more” is harder to figure out, unlike mtn bike, or OHV folks or even ski areas, oil and gas, and timber folks.

    Ranchers shouldn’t be on public lands, except when they support our position on oil and gas, and then they become vital parts of rural communities.

    What I see in most of the decisions we’ve discussed is people trying to maintain existing access. If new trails are not being litigated, then perhaps they are not controversial? Perhaps that would be worthy of a new piece of the People’s Database. How many FS decisions add to OHVs and Mountain Bike trails and how many restrict them?

    It seems like something the Mtn Bike and OHV communities might want to do, or might have already done.

    Anyway, I need to start my spring break, but am willing to discuss this at length when I return.

  7. It’s time we pay out fair share! Being a MT Biker I hear my hard core friends wining about dirt bikers especially after seeing a dirt bike on a single-track taken away a dirt biker. I do ride a dirt bike from time to time and see the arrogance or entitlement pushed in my direction by fellow Mt bikers. After reading through the post i feel we ( MT Bikers) need to pay into a process being used to protect our interest and quit mooching and bitching…

    Sorry friends.. the truth hurts!


Leave a Comment