Thursday, February 23, 2012

Articulating Ourselves

A number of BONCers worked quite hard on the new BONC website. Our objectives included giving a fresh look to BONC, enable online membership and donations, and make managing the club's business much easier for our volunteers.

The new website also gave us the opportunity to re-articulate what the organization is all about. It is a healthy exercise for any organization to step back and examine its missions and how it defines itself. Personally, I think we did a great job of this with the new site, but of course, there is always room for improvement. Such efforts are never ending and iterative.

I am very proud of the map we've created that shows BONC's achievements since inception. It is remarkable to see all we have done in so many corners of Nevada County. I am fully convinced that BONC can do far more in coming years. There are BIG projects in the pipeline that will make riding here much, much better.

If you have any comments or feedback about the new website, please pass them along.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Protecting the Future of Our Bike Clubs

There is a lot of speculation about the REI-funded Culvert project contract work at Auburn State Rec Area. Thought I would share some thoughts and background. Note that this message is from me personally and is not from the BONC board.

I was and continue to be VERY concerned with inadequately insured trail improvement projects that leave local mountain bike clubs exposed to lawsuits and possible liability. As a BONC director, I am personally concerned with protecting my family, assets and future. Organizations like FATRAC and BONC do so much good that it would devastate the trails community to see these groups shut down because an injury that results in a lawsuit. For this reason, I have been a strong advocate for adequate insurance protection for clubs I've worked with for many years. I am also close friends with several of FATRAC's board members.

Those involved with the Scott's Flat Project know that I continue to have these concerns about liability. I brought this directly to the attention of Zachi Anderson, FTA leader in November 2011. He responded that insurance was unnecessary for such trail work (see excerpt of email below dated 11/3/11). Other colleagues of mine have heard FTA representatives also question the need for insurance.

I completely disagree with the stand that proper insurance is unnecessary. Because of my years as a bike club president and California IMBA State Representative, I know that liability for trail work with heavy equipment, axes, sharp tools, rock, etc. very much leaves us exposed to risk. I personally know of someone who was sued because of a volunteer trail lawsuit. It was a nightmare.

In 2011, FATRAC won a grant of $10,000 to improve sections of the Culvert Trail. Various professional contractors (including Randy Martin and Forest Trails Alliance) expressed interest in this paid work. Late last year, I expressed my concern to FATRAC and State Parks management that uninsured paid contract work could leave FATRAC exposed to lawsuit. I therefore urged both State Parks and FATRAC to make sure that paid contractors have proper insurance so the projects can move forward without risk. I now regret contacting State Parks directly about this because it led to a number of misunderstandings about my intentions. I also regret not making it clear to State Parks that I was not speaking on behalf of BONC, but myself; I never said I was, but I think this was taken as implied.

Last week, I contacted FATRAC leadership to address unpleasant rumors circulating in the community about me. During this call, I never mentioned insurance or spoke on behalf of BONC.

To be clear: the Culvert rehabilitation project involves paid contract work and the recipient of this money is FTA. This is not a bad thing at all, but it may shift the insurance requirements. Standard RJF (IMBA) trail volunteer insurance may not provide coverage for project partners if any payment is made beyond material reimbursement as it was to FTA. RJF is currently investigating this.

In the meantime, Forest Trails Alliance should publicly provide evidence of:
  • Exactly what insurance coverage they have
  • Precisely when this coverage began
This evidence should be forwarded to BONC and land management agencies as soon as possible so that it is clear whether proper coverage exists for these organizations for our projects. The issue can be resolved and we can get back to building trails in a way that does not leave us liable.

dated 11/3/11

"While insurance may be a good idea, this community project is just like all the trail work that has been done since I started the first bike shop in the area in 1986.  No insurance demanded of volunteers.  While some of our groups may have insurance, this will only cover members and not volunteers.  In addition, the focus should be on good management, planning and trail building BMP as insurance does not repair wounds or injuries."

Trails With A Friend

Willie is a one year old border collie I adopted late last year from Border Collie Rescue of Northern California. Those of you who know this breed understand that they come quipped with endurance that most of us wish we had. After a longish Round Mountain ride, he watches me intently, bewildered why I would be throwing my bike on the rack and driving home. What? But isn't this fun? WHY ARE WE STOPPING?

One of the many things that I adore about Willie is that he loves trails just as much as I do. In fact, you could argue that his passion exceeds mine. When I go for a 15 mile ride, he puts in 20 miles from sprinting ahead, chasing a squirrel, investigating a sound, etc. When I am about to head out on the trail, I don't jump up and down ecstatically like he does.

At trail volunteer days, he seems even happier. And why not? What is more exciting than trail construction? He isn't particularly versed in the use of a Pulaski, but he does know how to dig. And he does a great job of cheering up my fellow volunteers.

My heart was broken a few months back when my long time border collie friend Phoebe died. She was also an incredible trail enthusiast who kept up with me until her later years. After her passing, I decided to find another friend and found an amazing one in Willie. Look for him on our next BONC trailwork event at Bullards Bar on March 17. He'll be the one looking fresher and happier than anyone else at the end of the day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Example Letter for RTP

I wrote the following letter below which urges Congressional support for the Recreational Trail Program (RTP). Feel free to use any of the language or ideas to create you own letter, but please submit it as soon as possible. Thanks:


Dear Senator Feinstein,

Please support funding the Recreational Trail Program (RTP) for next year's federal budget. The RTP provides support for key trail projects throughout our nation which result in opportunities for healthy outdoor activities for all American citizens. The modest RTP budget allows non-profits and government agencies to leverage volunteer contributions to produce trails for everyone. As national obesity rates and healthcare expenditures continue to skyrocket, we need such recreational facilities.

As a trail advocate and volunteer, I am quite familiar with the crucial role the RTP plays in new community projects. Each year, local organizations look to RTP funding as they seek ways to make our home towns more livable and healthy. The United States should continue to look for ways to encourage people to get out of their cars, away from the TV and out exercising instead. Personally, I cannot think of a more cost effective means of achieving these objectives than the RTP.

Thank you for your consideration.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RECAP: Scotts Flat Trail Day

This afternoon's trail event at Scott's Flat Lake was fun, rewarding and successful. A big thanks to  BONC, AmeriCorps and Land Trust volunteers and NID for allowing us to improve this BONC-adopted trail. See pictures.

With a solid showing, we continued to rock armor a marshy section and installed small culverts to allow water to drain away from the trail bed. We also rebuilt rock cribbing where the trail started to erode away, re-established a bench cut where the trail was disappearing, pruned the entire length of the trail and planted some posts with BONC signs. Ride or hike it soon and see what you think.

Next up: Bullards Bar Trail Day on March 17th.

Want to support important efforts like this? Become a BONC member today!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Save The RTP

IMBA has issued an action alert in support of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The RTP funds many key trail projects around the nation. The RTP has effectively leveraged volunteer efforts and other community resources to create new trails throughout California. The South Yuba Ridge Trail is one such project that would suffer without RTP support.

Please contact Senator Diane Feinstein to express your support for the RTP program. The time to act is now!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Trash at Round Mountain

Recently, vandals burned an illegal camp fire and dumped a lot of garbage in the parking lot off Trailhead Road near the Round Mountain Trail. It was ugly and sad.

Please keep an eye out and inform the BLM at 916-941-3101 if you see such activities . Fire is a huge concern for Round Mountain area residents and rightfully so.

The re-routes BONC volunteers proposed to the BLM will relocate the RM and Up-and-Over Trails such that they intersect this parking area, which hopefully will bring more presence and scrutiny to this location.

In the meantime, we can be good neighbors and keep an eye out.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Scott's Flat Lakeside Trail Day

Please note the start time of **1:30PM** Join us as we volunteer to improve the lakeside section of this trail! We will trim back brush and improve drainage to keep this trail dry and minimize erosion. Ride afterwards. Free beer for participants! Meet inside Gate #2 (the boat launch) at 1:30PM.


We have some worthy objectives for Saturday's trail event at Scott's Flat Lake (see below). We need the following supplies to make these improvements. Can you help?:

Two 4x4s, pressure treated, 7' long
One 2x6, pressure treated, ~6' or longer (or two shorter sections)
4 sections of rebar, about 2-3' long each

We plan to install posts and signage, rock armor a swampy section, reinforce a culvert installation, repair a bridge, prune overgrowth  and cut some drainage dips.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Bear Yuba Land Trust and Future Trails

Nevada County has no county parks system. Local government (and the voting populace) has seen fit to avoid creating such an entity for many years. They seem content to let the adjacent federally-managed public lands serve as our default park and trail system.

Regardless of how you feel about this, this de facto policy has left many areas of the county not near federal land void of trails, particularly in the south county. In other parts of the nation, local land trusts will acquire property with the intention of turning it over to a regional park system. For example, the Peninsula Open Space Trust has an exemplary record of doing this in the Santa Cruz mountains (I've volunteered with POST on such a project). Since this approach is virtually impossible here in Nevada County, the Bear Yuba Land Trust ends up managing open space lands and trails within.

There is also the need to establish public trail easements on private land. The Land Trust has an excellent record making this happen by working cooperatively with property owners on projects which are often close to town. This results in permanent trail access, not trails that are built only to be closed later.

As trail user, I've long advocated support for our Land Trust and feel stronger about this more than ever. I serve on the trails committee of the Land Trust and am aware of the incredible amount of acreage the organization will manage in the near future. We are talking about tens of thousands of acres, from the lower Bear River to the Sierra with new trails that will extend 20-30 miles. They will be building or managing more local trails than anyone outside of federal government agencies.

Huge opportunities await for advocates of new trails. It is very exciting. To make this happen, our local land trust will need the support of us with fund raising, trail stewardship, organization, membership and otherwise. Find out how you can help the Land Trust with these endeavors.