The Briones Pilot Challenge is a constructive step ahead by the East Bay Regional Park District to handle the necessity for each equitable entry to publicly funded parks and higher path administration.
With lower than 20 miles of latest path development over the previous 25 years, explosive demand for park use and the present limits on bike entry to slim trails, change is required. The shortage of progress has annoyed many mountain bikers who’ve resorted to illegally driving on hiker-only trails and constructing their very own trails. The consequence has been elevated battle between varied path customers and environmental degradation in some areas.
The pilot venture displays a paradigm shift by EBRPD to handle trail-user battle and habitat impacts. The brand new technique is to “check some new methods to securely share trails and enhance the path expertise for all customers whereas defending habitat, wildlife and watersheds,” in response to the park district. “A key element of the venture is the restoration of illegally constructed ‘bootleg’ trails to guard pure habitat for wildlife.”
The pilot venture isn’t a reward to those that have created trails however relatively an acknowledgement of the quick want for extra well-built trails that cut back impacts and fulfill customers. This modern momentary operational pilot will inform upcoming path planning.
EBRPD reached out to stakeholders in a number of methods to supply details about the pilot venture and collect enter. The EBRPD Path Person Working Group was an 18-month effort to convey stakeholders collectively to hunt higher understanding of trail-user wants and considerations. Following the working group and public requests for motion at Briones Regional Park in central Contra Costa County, an EBRPD multi-discipline workforce started designing a plan to check varied trail-management choices.
Employees have up to date the board and public at a wide range of conferences. Public enter was gathered on the February open home and resulted in substantial adjustments to the pilot venture.
In an April 25 commentary, Sierra Membership and California Native Plant Society spokespeople declare everyone is being compelled onto the identical slim paths and proceed their decades-long opposition to bike entry. The truth is, the pilot venture creates elevated separation of hikers, cyclists and equestrians with three hike-only trails, 4 bike-only trails and simply two trails designated for multi-use.
By opposing any new entry for cyclists, the spokespeople have, paradoxically, accelerated unlawful path development by cyclists annoyed with the dearth of entry to a satisfying path expertise. Mountain biking is a professional and rising exercise, and public land managers in Napa, Santa Cruz, San Mateo and even Marin counties are growing path entry.
We applaud the EBRPD as did many hikers and equestrians attending their February open home. The pilot venture is a constructive transfer ahead from the failed prohibition technique of the final 25 years, and it seeks to supply the experiences customers are requesting whereas growing habitat safety.
Mountain biking is a wonderful method to get youth away from screens, study path etiquette and turn out to be stewards of the setting. By enhancing entry to trails, EBRPD will encourage the following era of park supporters.
We ask the Sierra Membership and California Native Plant Society to assist well timed, affordable options as a substitute of obstructing a lot wanted path enchancment initiatives. The pilot venture will assist shift our East Bay path tradition by bringing leisure entry and conservation collectively relatively than pitting them in opposition to one another. It’s not a zero-sum recreation.
Scott Bartlebaugh is advocacy director of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay. Cortis Cooper is head coach of the 180-member Wildcat Center Faculty Mountain Bike Membership and a 40-year Sierra Membership member. Austin McInerny is a board member of the Nationwide Interscholastic Biking Affiliation.