You've probably already seen it, but here it is again:

http://coecore.homestead.com/Skeggs.html

Summary:


The MROSD plans to remedy erosion in the El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve (known as Skeggs to cyclists) resulting from past logging operations because it contributes silt into Steelhead habitat downstream. In partnership with regulatory agencies, the MROSD expects to finish the work by October 15, 2006.


The MROSD commissioned an independent geologist/consultant, Tim Best, to inventory the trails in ECdM, identify problems related to erosion, and create a prioritized prescription to mitigate siltation in the San Gregorio River watershed from the preserve in the form of a report. This report serves as a guide to the MROSD in planning. It was published on Nov 27, 2002 after at least a year of extensive field study. ROMP has been able to study this document as well, and it is posted here on this web page.


MROSD Open Space Planner, Matt Freeman, using the findings of this study in combination with his expertise has formulated a draft plan which he will recommend for approval by the trail community and final adoption by the MROSD Board in mid-January 2004.


The Plan:


These are some of the changes to the trail system of Skeggs that will be recommended:


1. All logging roads will undergo extensive modification in terms of creating better drainage using a wide range of appropriate techniques such as outsloping, installing more frequent and larger cross drains, and rocking the road surface. Some logging roads will be reduced to trail width, 4 feet wide. These would include Lawrence Creek Trail and El Corte de Madera Creek Trail.


2. A number of culverts and drains have been identified as poorly constructed or degraded and will be replaced and regraded throughout the preserve.


3. Cross-Over Trail is to be decomissioned, abandoned and restored.


4. Blue-Blossom Trail's steep overgrade skid section realignment will be completed with hand built single track using volunteer mountain biker labor.


5. Giant Salamander Trail's alignment should be essentially kept in the inventory because of its key connection in the trail system, but it is recognized that this is one of the serious offenders for silt contribution. Therefore this trail will undergo extensive hardening to drain water off the trail without creating erosion and silt loading of the stream. This will be done with all known apporved techniques.


6. A section of the Leaf Trail known as Disneyland will be closed and restored.


7. An alternative singletrack connecting realignment to compensate for the loss of Disneyland will be constructed from the North Leaf Trail to the South Leaf Trail.


8. The lower sections of Virginia Mills and Lawrence Creek trails will be closed in favor of a new bridge crossing approximately at the old Aerial Tree crossing. The trail approaches to this crossing will be machine built. The reason for this is that the single track section of Virginia Mills crosses an active land slide zone and the subsequent creek crossing contributes too much silt and needs to be restored.


9. Fir Trail below Resolution Trail is recommended for abandonment and restoration.


10. The Bay Area Ridge Trail (BART or Ridge Trail) will pass through the park on a yet to be constructed contouring multi-use trail on the western edge of the preserve. This trail project would be regarded as a low priority in relation to the siltation and erosion mitigation.


11. A new single track is in the plan to connect Timberview with Gordon Mills along the approximate alignment of the old PITS trail named Rut Hill, also known as the Big Tree Trail. This alignment has been abandoned for many years.


12. A new trail is proposed to connect Resolution to Methusula to compenstate for the abandonment of Fir Trail and include a lookout point.


13. Trails west of El Corte de Madera Creek are recommended closed during the wet season.






ROMPs Recommendation to the MROSD and Cyclists:


Summary: ROMP approves of the spirit and direction of the proposed changes and expects that area mountainbikers will be heartened by what they learn if they carefully review the situation. ROMP has reviewed the documents and situation carefully and has included the opinions of many cyclists in determining its response. Naturally ROMP wishes to accomodate both environmenhal responsibility as well as recreational needs in its recommendation. ROMP finds most of the proposals reasonable and supports the intent of the recommendations in the Tim Best report. ROMP wishes assist the MROSD in raising large numbers of volunteers and trail crew leaders to create realignments. The following list of comments directly correlates to the numbers listed above.


1. ROMP approves of the reduction of roads to trail width wherever possible and that patrol with 4wd ATV is feasible. ROMP also understands that this work is extensive and may require entire trails to be closed for extended periods of time while work is being done, and that it may take up to three years for vegetation and the landscape to restore aesthetically. ROMP recommends that some narrow trails remain off limits to patrol ATV.


2. ROMP recognizes that some drains and culverts occur in areas where access by heavy equipment is needed to do the work and is hampered by things such as trail width and unstable areas, and that mitigation of certain sites may require temporary widening and closures to allow the work to be completed.


3. ROMP recognizes Cross-Over trail as a log skid that was never designed as a recreational trail and is eroding and contributing silt into the adjacent stream, and that it therefore must be closed. However, ROMP recommends that an alternative trail be built using mountain biker input and labor along some alternative alignment before the closure of Cross-Over. Cross-Over Trail is a key connection in the preserve accessed by most ride loops. If this trail is closed it is likely that unauthorized alternatives may be taken by irresponsible cyclists. One possible alternative would cross the drainage west of Timberview in segment 4, at an approximate location of .3 mi down hill from the Methuselah Trail, and contour over to Gordon Mills Trail somewhere in segment 3 (about .4 mi from SteamDonket Trail). ROMP regards this as a high priority. Another alternative is mentioned in point #11 on this page.


4. ROMP approves of the realignment of the steep section of Blue Blossom as conceived by the IMBA Trail Care Crew visit of July 2002 and wishes to provide the labor for its completion in the spring of 2004.


5. ROMP supports the preservation of the Giant Salamander Trail in the plan and pledges its support in design and labor to the mitigation of drainage problems. ROMP suggests that boardwalks be considered as permanent trail structures to be built and maintained to allow passage over sensitive boggy areas where appropriate. ROMP also supports the responsible use of rock armourng and drainage in other areas. In areas of close proximity to the creek along steep side slopes well drained permanent crib walls can be employed. In fact, the Giant Salamander Trail is a formidable technical challenge for mitigation of erosion and silt contribution and sustainable trail construction. ROMP might also help with the finance of trail structures. ROMP asserts that this trail alignment is salvageable, and that a sustainable creek crossing is feasible and defensible.


6. ROMP recognizes the unsustainability of the Disneyland section of the Leaf Trail.


7. ROMP supports the creation of an alternative trail contouring and paralleling below Star Hill Rd connecting North and South Leaf trails. ROMP recommends that the cycling community be allowed to influence the design of this trail within MROSD designated control points and provide volunteer labor for its construction.


8. The closure of the lower sections of Virginia Mills Trail, segment 2, is regretably recognized as neccessary. Furthermore it is understood that detailed plans are still currently waiting for approval by regulatory agencies. ROMP expects that the final realignment will be a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing trail width.


9. ROMP does not support the closure of Fir Trail unless an alternative trail is constructed first. ROMP recommends that Fir Trail be managed as a singletrack. Fir Trail is not recommended for closure in the Tim Best Report, but as a multi-use trail. Fir Trail's location away from streams makes it unimportant from a siltation perspective, and therefore no energy should be spent on closing it. It is cheaper to keep Fir Trail open as a multi-use trail than to either close it, or maintain it as a road width trail.


10. The important BART regional trail alignment is supported by ROMP. ROMP recognizes this trail project as one of no importance in terms of mitigating erosion and silt and therefore realizes that construction of this BART section as many as 5 years away.


11. If no alternative can be found for approval higher in the watershed for the Cross-Over Trail then another alternative trail alignment connecting Timberview Trail with Gordon Mills Trail at a lower elevation should be given top priority so as to provide an alternative for the Cross-Over Trail. This is a very important alignment which would provide an alternative strategic connection to the Cross-Over Trail. ROMP wishes to contribute materially with capital, labor and design on this trail. In the early years of the preserve this area was well explored and the feasibility of such a trail, well graded, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sustainable is proven.


12. A trail alignment to connect the top of the Resolution Trail with Methusula Trail via the lookout route, while speculatively attractive, is not supported by ROMP. For one thing, the area is probably too rocky and precipitous for a sustainable route. Secondly the existing Fir Trail alignment is supportable. Thirdly the energy to close Fir Trail and then create a new trail is a waste. It is cheaper, in this case, to keep the existing trail open. Perhaps an out-and-back trail to a look-out point could be entertained at a distant future date, and should be included in the plan as an option, but it should not be worked on until after the primary erosion and siltation mitigation projects have been completed.


13. ROMP recommends that only the crossing of Giant Salamander and El Corte de Madera Creek trails be closed during the wet season. ROMP advocates the hardening of the approaches of Methusela Trail to the El Corte de Madera Creek, and the construction of an all season bridge. The connecting Leaf Trails and Virginia Mills Trail with its planned all season bridge provide a sustainable loop in that area of the preserve year-round. Furthermore patrol needs can be accessed from Star Hill Rd. If crossing of El Corte de Madera Creek cannot be permitted during the wet season, then cyclists should still be able to access the Lead Trailsfrom Star Hill Road.


Conclusion:


With only a few reservations ROMP approves of the MROSD's plans. The MROSD is presenting an excellent overall proposal which reconciles environmental protection with recreational and interpretive activities.


ROMP recommends that an independent body of trail advocates be formed to oversee cooperative volunteer trail work and maintanence activities well into the future. This could be called "Friends of ECdM".


ROMP also recommends and would be interested in contributing towards interpretive signage at key trailheads explaining the ecology of the watershed and the forest, as well as how and why habitat protection downstream begins in these headwaters with sensitive trail construction and management, and low impact riding techniques and trail ettiquette.


The El Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve is a macrocosm of environmental issues as it encompasses a 140 year old history of western uses and abuses and emerges into our 21st century as a progressive example of how second growth redwood forest habitat preservation and watershed protection can co-exist with a well designed and managed trail system. The recommendations of the MROSD can with minor changes incorporate the desires of the cycling community in concert with the protection of natural values towards a sustainable and environmentally responsible mature trail system.


More will be written. References to pages supporting ROMP's position in the Report will be added. More details on ROMP's activities as they develop will be added to this page. Links to a page of emails on the topic will be added. Hopefully links to maps will be added (I need help scanning maps).


The probable proposals by the MROSD are entirely speculative. Place and trail names vary amongst trail users. Refer to the report's maps and documentation on the pdf for more details. For information on ROMP go to romp.org.


This page is under construction.


This was written by Paul Nam, President ROMP