Oct 26

Our President’s State of ROMP Address

ROMP Members and Friends,

This evening I was re-elected as president of ROMP. Here is a report on what ROMP has been doing and some of what ROMP is trying to accomplish, as I see it. It is as long on words as our deeds are manifold.A summary of ROMP activities, starting with the good news:

ROMP contributes to Bay Area mountainbiking in an effective and positive way.

For example, ROMP was recognized by the MROSD on Oct 15th with a Volunteer Service Award, for the largest number of volunteer hours by any group this year. This comes from our involvment advocating multi-use sustainable trails in a popular riding area, known as Skeggs to MTBers, and as El Corte de Madera Open Space, whose access was threatened by watershed siltation issues. ROMP has been involved in the planning of a watershed protection program with the District that would satisfy the National Marine Fisheries and reconcile them with mountain bike recreation requirements. Volunteers collaborate with staff to create and build good trails. This is at minimum a three year commitment. There is more within this agency, but this has been our most recent success.

ROMP is involved with Santa Clara County Parks. We have adopted key trails within that agency which connect with other agency lands as both practical and strategic moves. We are engaged with planning and construction of new trails within a several thousand acre brand new County Park not yet open to the public. ROMP actively partners with this agency in updating trail standards and regulations as parks develop new master plans. We make sure that regional multi-use trails, such as the Bay Area Ridge Trail, become bike friendly. We have trained trail crew leaders approved by the County to recommend and perform trail work.

ROMP is active in California’s second largest State Park, over 90,000 acres in size, with legal bike acces on 87% of it’s trails. This is Henry Coe. ROMP is active with representatives on the trail advisory council and doing regular trail maintenance. ROMP recognizes the potential for challenges to mountain bike access in the future of this park, and towards that we have become an asset to the park. ROMP volunteers use 4wd and BOB trailers to access remote areas of the park.

ROMP has a great relationship with the Soquel State Demonstration Forest who has signed an agreement with our National Mountain Bike Patrol unit, the first ever of it’s kind in California. In partnership with the Stewards of Soquel State Demonstration Forest, a non-profit whose members overlap with ROMP, we maintain and build some of the greatest technical trails in the Bay Area.

ROMP has helped open San Francisco Watershed property and gain access for the Bay Area Ridge Trail on the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Rd. We have trained docents to lead groups on the rides in this special area.

ROMP furnishes many volunteers each year to mountain-biking’s largest race and expo, the Sea Otter Classic (SOC), each year. ROMP is currently planning a very special event at SOC for 05′.

I am very proud of what ROMP accomplishes. In addition we regularly publish an excellent newsletter, conduct well attended group rides, beginner’s clinics, conduct open and democratic meetings monthly, and always keep a high ratio of fun and friendship in the balance. Off the top of my head, these are the highlights of ROMP’s modest contribution to Norcal mountain bike advocacy.

And now the bad news….

Nightriding in most of ROMP’s areas continues to be illegal. Prior to 9-11 we were on the cusp of doing permitted group night rides, but concerns of security squelched that. Recent appeals toward this concept have been rejected. The nightriding coverage in the latest IMBA Trail News in our area is being recieved with laughter, as it just doesn’t jive with our reality at all. Patrols net citations of illegal night riders weekly, and shore up arguements against permitting mountain bike access in general. Illegal riding continues at a low level. Nocturnal ranger patrols, formerly restricted to patrolling fire roads by vehicle, are now conducted by bicycle on single track as well.

Despite the best intentions of administrators and ROMP, the remediation of siltation in ECdM is resulting in many temporary closures of trails as major disruptive work is being done by contractors with heavy equipment, and to allow new trails to stabilize over the wet season. This is being misinterpretted by the mountain biking public more negatively than it should be.

Budget constraints hamper both State Parks and State Demonstration Forests in maintenance needs. This limits their effectiveness in real trail maintenance. This has also frozen new master planning processes already underway which showed some promise for mountain biking access. This has also created major changes in administration through early retirements, lay-offs, and redistricting, forcing advocates to start from scratch in developing relations on personal levels in many cases.

ROMP represents San Mateo County, and has no success to report in gaining access to this park system. Opportuniy exists, perhaps, in a budget crisis in that county, so severe that it has forced the part time closure of many parks (all of them do not allow bikes on trails). ROMP has turned its back on this county for a long long time. Our relations amount to nothing more than sporadic salvoes of complaints about conditions, with no effective strategy in sight, yet.

San Francisco City and County continues to be ignored too much, to the detriment of surrounding cities. San Francisco offers great potential, and has great mountainbiking already. ROMP has advocates working on things, but follow up, such as attendance at trail work events and regular appearance at agency meetings is spotty at best.

Perhaps worst of all is the legal situation pending at Nisene Marks State Park.

For 2005, ROMP will address the negative issues by facilitating an action plan and enhanced communication within the organization and outreach to the public. ROMP will collaborate with peer mountain bike advocacy groups to the extent that it serves the interests of ROMP�s interests. ROMP will stage a series of overtures to San Mateo County Parks.

For 2005 ROMP will continue to mend and improve relations with other stakeholders with whom we share public parks and preserves with. ROMP will build more trail and repair more trail in more agencies than ever before. ROMP is a highly valued member of the trail community. We will make it clear to the public through communications that being associated with our group is a positive thing. We will train more trail crew leaders and become more sophisticated.

In 2005 ROMP will be a fully incorporated 501c3 non-profit public benefit corporation.

In 2005 ROMP will render major services to the Sea Otter Classic and be financially benefitted from the experience. ROMP will appreciate potentially huge gains respect and publicity through this participation. Additionally ROMP volunteers will have exclusive access to a very special experience.

In 2005 ROMP will diligently pursue the goals of MROSD�s Watershed Protection Program.

In 2005 ROMP will participate in all new Master Planning processes that may be underway.

In 2005 ROMP will make breakthroughs with Santa Clara County Parks on a new level with trail work and cordial relations.

2005 will be a banner year for ROMP and it’s members. If you are not already a member, please join. If you are thanks, and please renew when the time comes. Please consider ROMP events, trail work, and land manager meetings as another enjoyable part of being outdoors on your mountain bike.
ROMP exists to maintain and increase trail cycling opportunities. An interconnected network of multi-agency multi-use trails, which disperse trail users, provide recreation, opportunity for nature appreciation, and is properly designed and maintained to minimize environmental impact, is the foundation of fair access. ROMP recognizes that multi-use trails are not universally appropriate and that exceptional cycling-only trails may also play a role in the future.


Paul Nam, president ROMP