CAMTB’s CA State Parks Abridged Summary Advocacy Plan is Here!
In March 2021, California In March 2021, California Mountain Biking Coalition (CAMTB) commissioned a statewide advocacy report and work plan to inform its engagement with CA State Parks for the coming years. Exploratory interviews with its Board of Directors and its Legislative & Government Affairs Working Group were conducted by Bill Keene, CAMTB’s Senior Advisor. Subsequently, CAMTB held a day-long strategy session on April 23, 2021 with the same audience. The following abbreviated report highlights the output of this collective work and contains the following:
- Summary of challenges that emerged from the interviews & strategy session
- Details of CAMTB’s CA State Parks Advocacy Platform; and
- Next steps for bringing this important work to life.
A summary of CA State Parks related issues that many of our members are facing in their dealings include:
- History of opposition to off-road cycling by some CA State Parks staff
- Lack of continuity in CA State Parks’ leadership. CA State Parks staff turnover resulted in projects being halted to wait for new staff that may or may not support previous staff person’s work;
- Lengthy response times or no response to inquiries from CA State Parks staff, including change is use requests;
- Resource management issues are exacerbated by the inability of Districts to work effectively with upper management in Sacramento (it’s not clear who has decision-making authority in many cases);
Operational & Procedural
- Low degree of organizational transparency and insight into the agency’s decision making process
- Outdated CA State Parks Trails Manual – standards for new and existing trails is woefully out of date and requires revision to meet the needs of modern recreational users (e.g. standards don’t allow inslope turns or drainage features like rolling dips; policy for trails is that trails are secondary to natural resources, so trails are not allowed to be focus of any project);
- No modern tool kit for managing and creating trails (other jurisdictions at least have a tool kit (e.g. U.S. Forest Service/Marin County Parks);
- Ineffective Change in use process – requests are rarely approved, and even if approved, take years to complete;
- Policy and Procedural inconsistencies in one place vary from park to park and district to district, and in many cases are tied to a person/team
- Limited opportunity for public engagement or input in major policy initiatives at the State or local District level;
- Reluctancy to work with volunteer groups, and in some cases, active undermining of volunteer efforts has occurred;
Funding & Development
- Inability to allocate private donor funding to specific projects – all donated funding goes into a general fund;
- Projects at the District level stall due to lack of funding;
- General Usage
- Where parks are near population centers, CA State Parks has not effectively adapted to meet the volume, diversity and needs of users, especially in the urban interface areas.
- Opportunities are not available where people live (for example, for the most part, there are no CA State Parks or trails in urbanized areas leading to issues of equity in underserved areas)
Off-Road Cycling Specific
- Off-road cyclists are not seen by CA State Parks as a second-class user group at the statewide level;
- Natural Resources Code is hindering trail development, as bike-only trails are not possible given that access to the natural resources must be purpose of any new trail;
- Inconsistent E-Bike usage policy on trails in CA State Parks (guidance is not clear; whether the State or District staff have jurisdiction);
- Bicycle-legal single track trail mileage has not increased in proportion to the increase in ridership.
Our CA State Parks Advocacy Platform
To address these issues, the CAMTB member community is build its engagement on in three key focus areas:
Advocacy Pillar 1: Trail Access and Enhancement – CAMTB will both seek new and enhance existing opportunities for mountain bikers at all CA State Parks , recognizing that the sum total of new and enhanced opportunities meet the needs of mountain bike users from beginner to advanced levels. In time, CAMTB will support the development of a statewide trails foundation that will assist in the common goal of increased and enhanced trails for all recreational users.
Advocacy Pillar 2: Stewardship and Sustainability – CAMTB will develop a statewide initiative aimed at building a culture of stewardship and environmental sustainability within the Mountain Bike community, building on the outstanding work of local CAMTB chapters that can serve as models and resources to other chapters across the state.
Advocacy Pillar 3: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Outdoors – CAMTB will, with CA State Parks input,develop a DEI Framework for Outdoor Advocacy, CAMTB will organize and run several pilots with CAMTB members and implement this framework across the state to the majority of its chapters within 3 years.
To bring these three advocacy pillars to life, CAMTB will be forming member-led action committees, which will launch in June 2021. These committees will help ensure that the work is both shared and representative of the various needs that have been expressed by our larger member community across the state. Our work in year one will focus largely on developing trust and building relationships within CA State Parks, including the Director’s Office and the Office of Partnerships, as well as the offices of the regional Superintendents. We will also be pursuing partnership opportunities with CA State Parks affiliated entities, such as the California State Parks Foundation, Parks California, and the State Parks Commission. In time, we expect these efforts to create opportunities at the state and local level to address the systemic challenges we seek to resolve. Action committee efforts will be tracked internally against our established CA State Parks work plan and associated metrics. Periodic updates will be shared with the CAMTB Members, as well as the larger off-road cycling community in California noting progress and opportunities for further engagement.
This report was prepared on behalf of California Mountain Biking Coalition, a 501(c) 4 nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of California. It is intended for informational purposes only and can only be used with permission by the California Mountain Biking Coalition. For questions or to request permission to use this document, Please contact CAMTB by way of email at info@CAMTB.org.