CAMTB’s CA State Parks Summary Advocacy Plan is Here!
In March 2021, California In March 2021, California Mountain Biking Coalition (CAMTB) commissioned an 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 themes from the interviews & strategy session
- Details of CAMTB’s Advocacy Platform; and
- Next steps for bringing this important work to life.
CAMTB currently represents 23 California-based 501(c)3 off-road cycling advocacy organizations. Our affiliates span 8 major geographic regions, including Shasta/Cascade, Sacramento Valley, Sierra/Sierra Foothills, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern Inland, as well as the North, Central, and Southern Coast regions. Combined, CAMTB affiliates represent 15,000+ riders across the state. 89% of these organizations work directly with California Department of Parks and Recreation to enhance trail systems while protecting the valuable natural resources. Our discovery interviews yielded a number interesting CA State Park management themes that are impeding our member’s ability to enhance CA State Parks trail systems for for bikers hikers, and equestrians alike. They include:
- Lengthy response times or no response from staff and leadership;
- Leadership and staff turnover have regularly resulted in stalled and/or eliminated projects;
- Lack of transparency and inconsistency in decision-making within the organization
Operational & Procedural
- Dated CA State Parks Trails Manual – existing standards are insufficient and require revision to meet the needs of modern recreational users (e.g. standards don’t allow in-slope 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 or 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
- In many regions, off-road cyclists treated by CA State Parks staff as a secondary user group
- Out of date Natural Resources Code stipulates that access to the natural resources must be purpose of any new trail. This prevents development of bike-only trails
- 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
Based on the expressed shared challenges above, the CAMTB member community is focusing its efforts on three key areas:
Advocacy Pillar 1: Trail Access and Enhancement – CAMTB will advance new and enhance existing bike-friendly trail opportunities at all CA State Parks, and influence the policies and procedures used to manage these resources. 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 expanding the culture of stewardship and environmental sustainability within the mountain biking community. These efforts will amplify and expand upon the outstanding work of local CAMTB chapters, and provide replicable models for other trail advocacy organizations across the state.
Advocacy Pillar 3: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Outdoors – CAMTB will, with CA State Parks input, develop a DEI framework for Outdoor Recreation in California, and run several pilots with CAMTB members. CAMTB’s DEI framework, and supporting programs, will be implemented across the state to the majority of its chapters within 3 years, to that underserved and disadvantaged communities are seen, heard and embraced in outdoor recreation.
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.
Do you love California State Parks?
We do too! Please support CAMTB and its member organizations CA State Parks advocacy efforts to ensure that the needs of the off-road cycling community are met!