Nov 20

Important Changes Coming to Skeggs

The MROSD El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve is undergoing a new trails planning review. There will be an important meeting on Weds. Novemebr 19th at 7 pm at the Los Altos High School cafeteria. For details and directions go to: openspace.org, the MROSD’s official website and look for the link in the upper right of their homepage. For more information on the issue go to: http://coecore.homestead.com/Skeggs.html
As the predominant user group of this preserve, mountain bikers must attend and represent their interests. Please make plans to attend this important meeting.�The ECdM preserve is accessed by Bay Area wide mountain bikers. All of them are
invited to help ROMP in supporting, building, realigning, and maintaining the trail
system in that preserve.� – Paul Nam, ROMP President
Abstract: The MROSD must mitigate erosion and silt contribution to riparian habitat by
changing the trail and road system in the 2,788 acre ECdM open space preserve as
directed by environmental agencies. A proposal has been approved by these agencies.
Now a plan is being developed to be approved by the MROSD board and implemented by
staff, contractors and volunteer assistance.
Synopsis: 1834: Rancho El Corte de Madera. / 1860-1910: Timber clearcutting. /
1910-1988: Sporadic Timber Harvesting./ 1953: DC-6 Plane Crash./ 1970�s: PITS
Motorcyle Park./ 1972: Ballot measure to form the MROSD passes./ 1970-1988: Last
Timber Harvests using tractor and cable (Big Creek Lumber)./ 1986 MROSD purchases
property & mountain biking era begins.
Since the1990�s there has been constant controversy of use patterns in this preserve. The
abandoned skids and logging trails became the framework for a technically challenging
trail system valued by cyclists. The MROSD continues an ad-hoc practice of discovering
trails and putting up fences with �Closed not a trail� signs, and sets up ocassional radar
speed traps especially at the top of Manzanita Trail routinely ruining the experience for
many hapless first time visitors to this preserve on weekends.

Feb 22, 1999: The MROSD votes to close Devil�s Staircase, Broken Ankle, and
Outhouse Trails and replaces them with the contouring Sierra Morena trail. This round of
closures marks the most recent major changes. July 20, 2002: The IMBA Trail Care Crew
visits and helps begin the Blue Blossom reroute and scouts a feasible realignment.
November 7, 2002: The Road and Trail Erosion Inventory document is published. This
was commissioned by the MROSD in response to charges from a private citizen to the
Fish & Game, CRWQCB, and NMFS that ECdM was contributing silt in amounts that
threatened Steelhead habitat in the San Gregorio River watershed. This report makes
recommendations for changes to the road and trail prism which is the basis a new Trail
Master Plan for the preserve. Jan. 1, 2003: An ordinance is in effect that makes being
found off designated trail in the preserve a misdemeanor. Mid-September 2003: The
MROSD is notified that by Oct. 15, 2003 they must storm proof the roads or close down
the preserve. October 15, 2003: MROSD Trails Planner succeeds in obtaining
compromise by presenting plans for change and pointing out the public popularity. ~Oct.
28, 2003: The CRWQCB mandates that the MROSD has until Oct. 15, 2006 to complete
erosion control projects in the preserve. November 20, 2003: The first public workshop is
to be held.

Possible MROSD proposal: From discussions with Trails Planner, Matt Freeman, here is
a summary (in no particular order) of what seems likely to be recommended for approval
by the MROSD Board in the new Trails Master Plan for ECdM that is most pertinent to
MTB interests:

All roads to be managed better as new cross drains, critical dips, culverts, out sloping,
rolling dips, rocking, etc. will be installed. Closure to patrol trucks after 4� of rain in
Development of light 4wd ATV patrol and barn facility near top of Gordon Mills Trail.
A new foot trail, closed to bikes, from the Sandstone Formation to ECdM Cr Trail.
Lower Virginia Mills and Lawrence Creek Trails will be abandoned in favor of
adopting the yet to be constructed but planned new bridge across the Aerial Tree
Cross-Over Trail abandoned.
Giant Salamander to be rocked, drained, and hardened and locally realigned,
somewhat sanitized.
Disneyland (A Leaf Trail segment) abandoned.
Fir Trail Abandoned
ECdM Creek Trail road width areas reduced to trail width
Lawrence Creek Trail road width reduced to trail width
Seasonal Closure of all trails west of El Corte de Madera Creek during rainy season
Seasonal Closure of lower Methusalah Trail and ECdM Creek Trail, from Giant
Salamander and Resolution intersections.
Realignments and new trails:
North Leaf to South Leaf trails connector as alternative to Disneyland.
Aerial Tree Bridge connection and reestablishment/realignment of route back up to
Lawrence Creek Trail.
Finishing of Blue Blossom Trail
BART alignment contouring west perimiter
Rut Hill single track alignment (to be renamed), long term, for alternative connection
from Timberview down to Gordon Mills

ROMP�s position: ROMP should support most of the proposals above based on the
envrionmental soundness of the approach, and that most of our current legal acess is
preserved. In light of past experience the proposals seem generous to the mtb community.
However we oppose the closure of Fir Trail. The Best report doesn�t recommend
the closure of this trail. The position of maintaining and hardening the alignment of Giant
Salamander needs our most extreme strong encouragement to pass, as this was
recommended for abandonment. We oppose the closure of Cross-Over trail without an alternative realignment. A Friends of ECdM or equivalent body must be formed.
ROMP should pledge volunteer trail work involvement at a high level on the condition
that we are given control over trail design within control points and IMBA trail
prescriptions. What we may lose:

Lower Virginia Mills and Lawrence Creek
Winter access west of the creek

What we gain:

More single track when certain roads are reduced to trail width.
Contouring connection from North to South Leaf trails
Primitive nature of Giant Salamander
More new single track as Blue Blossom abandons skid.

The above is an incomplete summary. For more detail go to: http://coecore.homestead.com/Skeggs.html

In the last 10 years the ECdM preserve�s trail system has been progressivley sanitized
from a wild natural experience to a relatively tame trail system, something akin to China
Camp State Park in Marin. Mountain bikers have protested every step of the way, but
have been over-ruled. Sadly the 20-35% grade trails we loved have been abandoned in
favor of �safer� and more �eco-friendly� routes.

Mountain bikers should realize that this preserve lies next to a huge metropolitian area
with budding cyclists who have no idea of what used to be here. Many cyclists are simply
unprepared and unskilled for such challenges, and that super steep technical trails present
the MROSD with liabilty issues. That coupled with the undeniable fact that fall line trails
are unsustainable particularly in watersheds that sustain endangered species renders their
maintenance and inclusion in a legal trail system unrealistic. Most of our issues here are a
result of population pressures from and expanding mass of humanity.

ROMP�s President proposes doing a national mountain bike magazine story on the
preserve starting with this planning process and the proposed trail days to finish the Blue
Blossom realignment. In this story we will photograph riders on old trails in the preserve
before their closure such as Cross-over, Disneyland and Virginia Mills. Also trails that will
be changed we should record from GPS waypoints for future reference. Trail work
volunteership should increase and a good part of the labor can be in good faith put into
helping restore closed trails. Simple barriers have proved to be ineffective in closing some
abandonments to eager riders. Restoration means more than putting up a fence and a sign.

A timetable of trail work and applications for approval needs to be developed by the
MROSD as a critical element of the Trails Master Plan. ROMP should develop a
memorandum of understanding to declare the conditions under which volunteer mountain
biker trail work is to be conducted. We need to stress to the MROSD that in many cases it
is cheaper to keep a trail open rather than closing it. For example, if they close Giant
Salamander, then illegal connections will be encouraged. Partnership with mountain bikers
will enhance our chances of access in future coastal annexation preserves. Simply closing a
trail does not end it�s contribution of silt and process of erosion. The roads within the
preserve are the main contributors of silt. That is why the single tracks are not overly

Conclusion: Form a postion ROMP can support. Form an organization to adopt the park
and coordinate trail work. Develop a memorandum of understanding. Record happenings.