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Bicycle Wars: Cycling advocates seek control of Santa Cruz County Sierra Club
by SC Environment News
Sunday Dec 18th, 2011 2:43 PM
On December 8th, the California Coastal Commission voted 10-1 to approve the controversial $5 million Arana Gulch Master Plan. The vote was expected to resolve a fifteen year long battle between cycling advocacy groups and environmental groups that oppose the plan. But in a move that has some long time Sierra Club members crying foul, cycling advocacy groups are running a slate of three candidates for the board of the Santa Cruz County Group of the Sierra Club in the December election. This would be the second cyclist-sponsored candidate slate in two years, and is expected to decide control of the Santa Cruz Group Executive Committee.
The candidates have no prior history of volunteering for the Sierra Club, but do have extensive ties to local cycling advocacy groups. Tawn Kennedy is coordinator of Green Ways to School, a K-12 education project that is funded by a grant through People Power and the Hub for Sustainable Transportation. Greg McPheeters is the immediate past Chair of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, and Mary Odegaard joined People Power in advocating for the King Street bike boulevard. The trio are attempting to unseat the current Santa Cruz Group Executive Committee Chair, Kevin Collins, a long time Sierra Club forestry activist, as well as the Forestry Committee Chair, Dennis Davie, and the Secretary / Treasurer, Mark Sullivan, a local environmental attorney.

A mailer to Sierra Club members touts the experience of Kennedy, McPheeters, and Odegaard in youth outreach, solar energy, and organic farming. But long time Sierra Club activists are concerned about the lack of experience in core Sierra Club conservation activities, which they feel are essential to the Sierra Club mission. The Sierra Club has been active for half a century in Santa Cruz County on forest and watershed conservation, native species protection, coastal advocacy, and zoning and land use, as well as evaluating public and private projects for conformance to local, state, and national environmental laws. The Executive Committee Chair, Kevin Collins, explains that the Sierra Club is one of the few local environmental organizations that does not receive money from City or County and so is free to take positions on politically charged land use and development issues.

That very independence may have put the Santa Cruz County Group at risk when it joined the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society in opposing the construction of the multi-use path in Arana Gulch. The Arana Gulch project has been supported by a large and well funded local coalition including city council members, County Supervisors, and the county Regional Transportation Commission as well as People Power, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz County, and the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club. The coalition sent out emails widely to gather over 700 signatures in support of the plan. The signers of the petition have been asked to vote in the Sierra Club election so that the Santa Cruz Group of the Sierra Club cannot continue to obstruct implementation of the Arana Gulch Master plan.

Cycling advocates state that they are Sierra Club members, and are simply seeking a Sierra Club that is more responsive to local members. But long time Sierra Club activists been concerned about the number of new members from the coalition that have joined in this and the previous year’s contested elections. Last year, the chairs of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz County joined, as well as many members of the two cycling groups.

Representatives from People Power have been continuously present at Sierra Club Executive Committee meetings over the past year, sometimes joined by Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz County, who are advocating for paved bicycle trails through the Pogonip. Long time Sierra Club Executive Committee members fear that the cycling coalition is also seeking to overturn the Club’s opposition to new pavement in the Pogonip, and even in the Forest of Nisene Marks, which was subject to legal settlement in 2005. “We support bicycles as alternative transportation,” explains Executive Committee Chair Kevin Collins, “but the Sierra Club has a long-standing opposition to paved roads in wilderness areas.”

Cycling advocates maintain that they are simply trying to refocus the Club on broader issues, including climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainability. Long time Sierra Club members fear that the dominance of representatives from single-issue advocacy groups could mean not only loss of identity, but the end of the strongest independent voice for conservation in Santa Cruz County.
§Mountain bikers want natural surface trails
by Mark Davidson Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:48 AM
"Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz County, who are advocating for paved bicycle trails through the Pogonip."

This is a misrepresentation of the Pogonip multi-use trial issue. Proposing a paved trail through the Pogonip has never come up for consideration and never will. The propagation of this piece of misinformation - which has been spread by the opponents of this trail - must be stopped. Please issue a correction. Mountain bikers do not advocate for paved trails. Period. We enjoy natural surface trails.

The trail plan and environmental review published by the Parks Department will give you all the required information on this project.
§Article correction -- Pogonip project / Sierra Club
by SC Environment News Friday Dec 23rd, 2011 1:13 PM
The paragraph on the Pogonip trails should read

Representatives from People Power have been continuously present at Sierra Club Executive Committee meetings over the past year, sometimes joined by Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz County, who are advocating for a new multi-use trail through the Pogonip. Long time Sierra Club Executive Committee members fear that the cycling coalition is also seeking to overturn the Club’s opposition to new cycling trails in the Pogonip, and even in the Forest of Nisene Marks, which was subject to legal settlement in 2005. “We support bicycles as alternative transportation,” explains Executive Committee Chair Kevin Collins, “but the Sierra Club has a long-standing opposition to projects that increase traffic in particularly sensitive habitat areas.”

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Jean Brocklebank
Sunday Dec 18th, 2011 9:02 PM
The Sierra Club is not opposed to bicycles in Wilderness. I wish they were. However, when it comes to paving bike routes in critical habitat of endangered species (like the Arana Gulch greenbelt) as well as open space/natural areas (like the Pogonip greenbelt), the environment trumps recreational bicyclists and that is Sierra Club policy!

It is very true that the bicycle lobby is relentless in its project to take over the local Santa Cruz Group, through these annual ExCom elections. They fight dirty, in my opinion, because they never admit they want bike routes everywhere they can get them. Instead they talk about climate change and saving the environment.
by Jim Williams
(Jw072013 [at] Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:36 AM
Comments from the Sierra Club and its supporters concerning the Arana Gulch plan are so typical of that hypocritical organization. Of the cycling community, one recent posting quipped that they fight dirty and... Have a single issue agenda while claiming to be concerned about climate change and othef environmental issues. Wow - - If that doesn't describe the Sierra Club, I don't know what does!
Jean: The Pogonip multi-use trail was proposed as a long term solution to transient camping and heroin dealing/using in the Pogonip. After having hiked though the area and participating in clean up operations it quite clear that the negative activity creates an environmental and public safety hazard. This is the true environmental issue facing the Pogonip. The animosity towards mountain bikers seems to over shadow all critical thinking on this issue.

Why wasn't the "Friends of the Pogonip" active during the 10-15 years that this situation was allowed to fester? It's only when a solution to bring in positive activity though a multi-use trail did the FOTP wake up and decide to be environmental stewards.
by John Caletti
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 9:17 AM
It's too bad the way the article mis-characterises these issues. There are many members of the Sierra Club who support the Arana Gulch trail plan. Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz have not advocated for a paved trail in Pogonip - they want a well designed multi-use natural surface trail through an area of the park that has been trashed (garbage, drug paraphernalia, erosion, illegal camping, camp fires, smoking, and many walked in small spur trails.) Hikers and bikers (mountain bikers) both love our parks, the woods, nature and the narrow trails we use to access and enjoy them. Mountain bikers are by and large "environmentalists." The way of the future is to share our trails, design them well; then get out there and enjoy these areas and work together to protect them from development. If our local Sierra Club was more like the national Sierra Club we'd have more members - many bike riders have gotten fed up and left the club years back. Perhaps now some of them are coming back. If the Sierra Club focused their energy on working for things, rather than against bike access, we'd be much more productive and respected.
by John Fuchs
(john [at] Monday Dec 19th, 2011 10:29 AM
I am an active member of the Sierra Club, the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBoSC), and the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). I am also on the Board of the Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks, and Trips for Kids Santa Cruz. I have worked side by side with members of each of these organizations cleaning up/restoring the Heroin Hill area of Pogonip, maintaining trails in Wilder and Nisene, and providing underprivildged kids the opportunity to explore and learn about our local Parks. I support each of these organizations with my dues, my voice and my time.

There should be no war between cyclists and environmentalists. We are on the same side. It's important for each of these organizations to have a variety and even divergent views. We listen, we argue passionately, and we seek compromise for the good of the environment. Isn't that the hallmark of any vital organization and the very core of our democratic principles?

At a time when funding is being severely scaled back for our County and State Parks, it's more important than ever that we all work together for better access and a better experience for recreational use of these areas. The more that people of all interest and capabilities (hikers, joggers, cyclists, equestrians, families, elderly, handicapped) are encouraged to get out and enjoy the parks, the more voices we will have to save and fund them.

We may not always agree on every issue, but we are on the same side. Let's work together when and where we can!

Happy Holidays all,


by Greenbelt lover
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 4:20 PM
From the Sierra Club website:

The Executive Committee of the Santa Cruz County Group of the Sierra Club, on July 14, 2010, voted to oppose the creation of the proposed trail. See excerpt on right.

The Pogonip, with its unique terrain, varieties of species, and wildlife habitat, is the last nearby open space of our Greenbelt that allows pedestrians— including runners, children, older people, and hearing- and sight-impaired— to walk or run without fear of being overtaken by bicyclists. It is a pedestrian sanctuary, now largely bike-free.

The petition also urges the Council to direct City staff to work instead with the County to explore the superior route of a trail along the Big Trees rail line, open to bicyclists and pedestrians, from Harvey West Park through the Pogonip. This route, which is exceptionally beautiful, would avoid the constrained entrance at Golf Club Drive and provide excellent connections to Henry Cowell State Park and the University Connector Trail at the northern end.
by Matt Ammann
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 5:04 PM
I support a vital and enduring Pogonip; a Pogonip which is enjoyed by a large and responsible constituency of Santa Cruzans. Having an engaged and educated user base is an essential part of protecting a beautiful natural resource such as the Pogonip.

As it stands, there are too few legitimate users in the Pogonip, which creates an attractive atmosphere for less sustainable and socially positive uses, such as the rampant drug sales and drug abuse and homeless camping. The negative uses in turn discourage positive, sustainable and environmentally sensitive steward ship of Pogonip.

The proposed multi use, natural surface, UNPAVED trail will help to bring more responsible people into the Pogonip, will broaden the support for sustained support of natural and green spaces in Santa Cruz, and will help to ensure the survival of the Pogonip for future generations.

Someone said that "The Pogonip multi-use trail was proposed as a long term solution to transient camping and heroin dealing/using in the Pogonip." No, it wasn't. It was proposed to let bicyclists into Pogonip, in violation of the Pogonip Master Plan. How many reading this comment really think that bringing recreational bicyclists into a natural area is really going to stop heroin deals along the nearby railroad right of way? Raised hands, please! The same self-serving argument is used for paving bike routes through Arana Gulch: that is, paved routes will stop crime. Oh, and the paved bike route development project is going to save the endangered Arana Gulch tarplant (Holocarpha macradenia), too, by paving its habitat.
by Jean
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 7:57 PM
Someone said: There are many members of the Sierra Club who support the Arana Gulch trail plan. Sorry, members. As a member of the Sierra Club you are bound to accept and NOT publicize your disagreement about Club policies, including the Club's opposition to a transportation project through an ESHA of the Coastal Zone. I know that a paved bike route is not being asked for in Pogonip. That is not the point. What is the point? A "well designed multi-use natural surface trail through" Pogonip for bicyclists means one thing: another place to speed through nature. Why not walk there, and get the natural tidings at nature's speed...slowly? Why can't there be any place left in Santa Cuz County where vehicles are not allowed? Yes, bicycles are vehicles, moving vehicles. Someone also said that "If our local Sierra Club was more like the national Sierra Club we'd have more members." Well, there are over 3,500 members in the local Group/Chapter. Is that not enough? As for the comment that "if the Sierra Club focused their energy on working for things, rather than against bike access, we'd be much more productive and respected," here is a surprise: the Sierra Club does work for things, among them preservation of natural areas and preservation of endangered species that live in these natural areas.
by JimS
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:14 PM
Jean - Please get your facts right. City Parks and Rec as well as Police and First Responders are the ones that proposed the trail initially as a way to activate a portion (nearly 25%) of the Pogonip that is currently closed due to health and safety concerns. Those heath and safety concerns? Rampant drug use, vagrancy, and other criminal activities that are requiring significant public resources that could better be used to police the levy, lower ocean, and other areas of the city. How did these conditions come about? Due to years of current "Santa Cruz Chapter of the Ventana Group" policies that try and discourage use of our greenbelts. Especially, places like Pogonip, that have a history of use. The saddest thing has been the overall decay of this property -- the club house is fenced off, several cleanups have pulled out several yards of trash, the majority of our citizens within the city do not visit this open space. Instead, the majority is a privileged few that live on the upper west side.

Back to the issue of the trail proposal - once the cycling and equestrian communities heard about the proposal, we stepped up to to support the city, parks and rec, and first responders. It would be great to see more of our friends , neighbors, and families making use of a city park.

Now to the argument of activating the space "won't mitigate the criminal activity"? There is a great example to counter this -- the existing UConn trail. When built, the area was riddled with illegal camps and vagrancy. These days, dozens of riders from Santa Cruz, tourists from other areas, make use of the trail for healthy recreational purposes.

It is sad to see a group continues to demonize a group of people that are young and old, men and women, environmentalists, families, etc that seek healthy, environmentally friendly activities.
by Jean Brocklebank
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:17 PM
Dear John ~

There is no war, just principled disagreement. I for one celebrate daily that Santa Cruz County has 211 miles of designated bike lanes for legitimate alternative transportation. Personally, I walk everywhere, including to work. I even walk the 2 miles to jury duty every other year. My husband bicycles each day. He is a practical bicyclist, not a recreational bicyclist, although he enjoys immensely his daily bicycling.

Respectfully I say to you that recreational cyclists and environmentalists are, alas, not on the "same side." Those of us who seek to preserve just a wee bit of the natural world in this sea of urban development, work tirelessly to preserve not only that natural world but its peace and quiet. The only critters who zoom in natural areas, naturally, are the American Kestrels at Arana Gulch who home in on lunch. A natural event.

I grant you that both recreational cyclists and environmentalists are passionate. But we do not have the "same goals." In a world gone mad by development, where so little of nature is allowed to even exist, there can be no "compromise for the good of the environment." There is only loss...for nature.

You and I will have to disagree on what can save the natural world. I understand that you think it is more and more people with more and more money to manage the resources. While I think the best thing for the natural world left in Santa Cruz is to let it be enjoyed by those who walk lightly on it. In other words, not love it to death.

May you and yours have a beautiful holiday season.
by JimS
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:18 PM
Jean -

"As a member of the Sierra Club you are bound to accept and NOT publicize your disagreement about Club policies"

Seriously? You mean we are bound to not voice a differing opinion of a "local chapters" policies that often counter or at least selectively interpret the policies of the Sierra Club national organization?

Wow. That quote says much about you and the people with your similar view point.

Just wow.
by JimS
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:27 PM
Jean -

As a follow up, your draconian "thou shalt not question group policy" is for people that hold official officer or other volunteer positions. Sierra Club membership is diverse and people have differing positions all with a love of the environment. Your indication that public discourse should not be allowed is mind-numbingly audacious.

by Jean
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 8:59 PM
Jim S - I have no problem with being corrected about the order of the Pogonip trail plans. Why do you suppose that City Parks and Rec as well as Police and First Responders are the ones that proposed the trail initially? This is a real question. I am not being snide. Did they sit around thinking "I'll bet if we make a trail for bicyclists, they will chase away the criminals?!" Were they influenced by anything or anyone or was this their original idea?

I am troubled by your statement that somehow all the criminal activity is dropped at the doorstep of "Santa Cruz Chapter of the Ventana Group" policies that try and discourage use of our greenbelts. This charge is irrational, in light of the Club's active hike program into the City's greenbelts. Trash, litter, vandalism...all belong to this age. My neighborhood has the same problems. Do we blame the Sierra Club?

And, Jim, speaking for myself, I am not trying to demonize anyone. I truly wish we could all get out of this mode of name calling and have rational and reasoned disagreements.

Well, them's my thoughts.
by Jean
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 9:25 PM
Oh dear, Jim. I certainly never suggested that "public discourse should not be allowed." Please do not put words in my mouth. And I most certainly did not say "thou shalt not question group policy." Goodness me, such anger.

I have, at times, greatly disagreed with Sierra Club policy. Once I disagreed so much that I let my membership expire (in 2004 after the Club refused to speak out against the Iraq invasion as an environmental disaster). Believe me, I cherish citizen engagement in all matters.

What I did say is that Club policy says that a member may not publicize her/his disagreement with official Club policy. There is plenty of opportunity for disagreement within the Club. Plenty. It is a grassroots organization and the grassroots can speak up at any number of opportunities as policy is made. Once the policy is decided, however, members are asked to present a united front, or at least not publicize internal debate. Allow me to offer to you why this makes sense. Suppose the Club policy is for upholding the Clean Air Act. Suppose someone who makes a living burning coal joins the Club (memberships are cheap) and then proceeds to speak in public about how good burning coal is for the environment compared to, say, nuclear power plants. How does the Club work to uphold the Clean Air Act if policymakers don't know where the Club stands on coal because many members think it is a clean burning fuel?
by JimS
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 10:42 PM
Jean -

It is interesting that you make blanket statements and then try and sugar coat your responses in raising questions about the motives of others or feigning some sort of innocence in the discussion.

You were the one who said people should not question the Sierra Club position in "Sierra Club primer". Searching online, the only specific reference to this is for people in elected positions. You have been active enough to know this, so being coy seems a bit disingenuous.

On the topic of First Responders. I do not know if you attended the city meetings where multiple city police and park rangers mentioned the usefulness of both easier access -- the levy, new bridge near tannery arts, etc. were brought up as an example -- as well as increased usage -- bring people into a portion of the park that wasn't commonly used -- to both make people uncomfortable as well as additional eyes/ears to report illegal activity. This is already done with a volunteer crew in Soquel Demonstration Forest, for example. Instead you turn this into a "what were first responders thinking" conspiracy issue.

Playing coy and raising falsehoods seem to be your approach. Am I angry? No. Am I calling you out for what appears to be a pattern of "make a statement" and then back track/play nice when called on it, I am. You've been active enough in the local issues to where naiveté isn't something I am willing to grant.

The fact is, regarding Pogonip, it was Celia Scott (as mayor) that pushed through the current Pogonip Master Plan which placed the current restrictions on the use of Pogonip. Those policies are put forth as unalterable gospel in the form of the Pogonip Master Plan, which for some reason people think can neither evolve nor change. Because of this plan, a large portion of the park (25+%) is currently off limits for health and safety issues. Friend of Pogonip and the local Sierra Club "chapter" did nothing about this until "oh no, a multi use trail might go in". Some people opposing this path have gone so far as to distort the facts to claim the path would be paved (in this articles' comments) or that motorized bikes (bratton online) might be allowed. Both of which are falsehoods trying to play up falsehoods and fears.

You mention biking for "Alternative Transportation" means, you fail to acknowledge the use of biking for healthy recreation. In the county, there is an amazing mixture of large and small business that cater to biking recreation -- Giro/Bell, John Calleti, Fox, Santa Cruz Bikes, IBIS, Rock Lobster, Hunter Cycles, XFusion, Calfee, and others -- these companies bring in tax dollars, jobs, etc. I would argue, as a whole, they have done more for the community than those that pop their heads up and start raising cane whenever a bike might be mentioned as something useful for healthy recreation.

You also come back to greenbelt/native plant issues. The Sierra Club local chapter also likes to raise these issues. The fact is, both the Pogonip and Arana Gulch are *NOT* pristine properties. Going out for "walks" and "slowly enjoying nature" is all fine and good. But, you know what? Our city parks, and especially Pogonip, are being threatened by health and safety issues. What about the illegal camping and drug use? I personally picked up burned aluminum and other paraphernalia used for drug use as well as other trash left due to illegal camping in Pogonip, DeLaveaga, and Arana Gulch.

I'm sorry, but you and others that oppose expanding environmentally friendly access to our open spaces like to gloss over the reality.

Also, don't get me started on the "Rail Trail Alternative" along the rail line towards the San Lorenzo Valley. Aside from the prohibitive cost of easements, bridge upgrades, etc. The rail line has already said "no" in the past. Celia, Friends of Pogonip, and crew like to bring up this "unicorn" as a method to obfuscate and delay. It isn't going to happen. An example of why? Just look at the issues Barry Swenson and the town of Aptos are having in relation to the train bridge near Aptos Village.

by Sierra activist
Monday Dec 19th, 2011 11:02 PM
"in the county, there is an amazing mixture of large and small business that cater to biking recreation -- Giro/Bell, John Calleti, Fox, Santa Cruz Bikes, IBIS, Rock Lobster, Hunter Cycles, XFusion, Calfee, and others"

It's true, and a lot of the owners of these businesses joined the Sierra Club last year and probably donated to the campaign of the last slate of cycling candidates for the Sierra Club Executive Committee. The question is, are these candidates going to represent the interests of all Sierra Club members on the Executive Committee, or just the businesses and organizations that helped them get elected?
by JimS
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 7:49 AM
"Activist" -

I find your choice of words interesting.

"The question is, are these candidates going to represent the interests of all Sierra Club members on the Executive Committee, or just the businesses and organizations that helped them get elected?"

One would hope that the Executive Committee would listen to and represent the interests of the local membership at large, not just those on the committee or a select group of the committees friends.

by .lk
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 8:16 AM
I'm more unhappy about some of the private use of land that I see going up in the Santa Cruz mtns, especially closer to Woodside etc. You can see this stuff on satellite version of google maps. The Arana path almost seems like a diversion because it is still public land

There are long driveways and small roads all over the hills that probably have greater impact on wildlife because they break up tracts of forest
by Sierra activist
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 8:49 AM
Jim, I meant representing the entire membership, which includes hikers and nature lovers as wells as city and mountain bikers. I'm just wondering how long you have been a Sierra Club member? I've been a member for over a decade, and I feel the Executive Committee has been representing me. I want them to keep focusing on protecting the forests and rivers and wetlands and beaches and ocean in Santa Cruz County, not to mention some of our state parks that are about to close. That's what the Sierra Club is about. It goes back to John Muir.
by this is an outrage
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 3:36 PM
i am taking my people power donation and giving it to Free Radio Santa Cruz instead.
by Andrea
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 4:22 PM
"The petition also urges the Council to direct City staff to work instead with the County to explore the superior route of a trail along the Big Trees rail line, open to bicyclists and pedestrians, from Harvey West Park through the Pogonip. This route, which is exceptionally beautiful, would avoid the constrained entrance at Golf Club Drive and provide excellent connections to Henry Cowell State Park and the University Connector Trail at the northern end. "

This continues to be mentioned as an alternative, but has been rejected by the property owners and the city for many good reasons. I suggest anyone who really cares about the Pogonip trail to read the city's MND initial study.


"This suggested alternative is not considered realistic for the City to pursue as the rail corridor is privately-owned and not located within Pogonip. Past City staff discussions with the Big Trees/Roaring Camp Railroad staff indicate that the existing rail use limits other uses along the corridor. Big Trees management indicated that they consider trespassing on the rail corridor to be unsafe, will enforce against trespassing, and have no intention of allowing public use along the rail corridor (John Bush, Big Trees/Rolling Camp Railroad, personal communication to Steve Hammack, City Parks and Recreation Department, September 2010)."

"In 2006 a study was prepared for the County of Santa Cruz Public Works Department regarding improved bicycle and pedestrian access to the San Lorenzo Valley. The
feasibility study evaluated a trail along the San Lorenzo Valley/Highway 9 corridor between Santa Cruz and Boulder Creek (approximately 15 miles), including an assessment of the potential to use the Santa Cruz Big Trees/Roaring Camp Railroad line as part of the trail. The study determined that a trail route along the rail corridor was less feasible than others for several reasons, including narrow width, steep topography in sections and other environmental constraints, reconstruction requirements, and costs. Although the corridor ranges in width from 40-60 feet, steep topography limits the potential of a trail without substantial grading, drainage and construction of structures to support a trail, and considerable environmental impacts to the surrounding vegetation and land uses. Several portions of the route cross trestles or are supported by large retaining walls or near vertical cliffs. Many of these constrained areas are located in close proximity to Highway 9 and/or the San Lorenzo River, further limiting the feasibility of a bypass or reconstruction of the section. These constraints resulted in a high estimated cost for constructing the connection relative to other alternatives (SOURCE V.83).
The feasibility study also indicated that the corridor has multiple curves, resulting in a limited line of sight in some sections for both the conductor and an individual walking or biking along the corridor. Line of sight is an important consideration with regards to train braking distance. A Big Trees train can take up to 200 feet to stop for a pedestrian or bicyclist, and there are several segments along the tracks with a line of sight of less than 100 feet that would need to be addressed to improve safety (SOURCE V.8). There are also some areas along the tracks where there is an embankment on both sides of the tracks that preclude adequate distance for hikers or mountain bikers to move out of the way of an approaching train (Ibid.)."
by JimS
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 6:21 PM
"Activist" -

I've been a Sierra Club member on and off over the last 10 or so years -- continuous for the last three, I believe. My membership status depends upon finances and interests. During that time, I've also donated to or helped a friend in Forests are Forever and the Campaign for Old Growth. I've also done some local work for some of our coastal non-profits.

From watching how things have played out with the Pogonip trail, it is clear that there is an overlap in membership/interests between Friends of Pogonip, the Sierra Club Santa Cruz Chapter Executive Committee, Celia and Peter Scott, and related groups. I don't question anyones dedication to environmental issues, but I question the consistency as well as selectivity with which things are pursued. Pogonip is not "pristine wilderness", the former being a dairy farm and the latter taking all sorts of paths over the years including a golf course, bike polo grounds, film set, lime quarry, etc.

The current status of Pogonip is that 25+% of the park is closed. An infusion of drugs, illegal camping, fire danger, and gang activity forced the hand of City Parks and Police to close a portion of the park. Nothing was done about this by the people in charge (Celia and her friends), Friends of Pogonip, or the Sierra Club. It took a proposal by Parks and Rec / First Responders to bring up a multi-use trail ... all of a sudden it is issue number one. Why? Bikes might be allowed in a part of Pogonip. This morphed into conspiracy theories about bikers running wild over the whole park, paved paths would be everywhere, etc. The rhetoric would make DeCinzo proud. Instead of just acknowledging that they don't like bikes, it turns into raising all sorts of environmental "concerns" with little to no acknowledgement of the dangers of drug paraphernalia and human waste in the Pogonip/San Lorenzo watershed.

Let me restate, Pogonip is *NOT* a pristine piece of property. Yes, there are probably areas which are sensitive for various animal and plant populations, but the open space/park/preserve as a whole has paved and gravel roads running through it, a club house (which is falling apart), a network of pedestrian trails that aren't official, etc. Why was there no outrage / anything done until the fact of a multi use trail might go in?

This gets to my argument of consistency as well as genuine concern for the environmental damage already within the Pogonip due to the illegal activities. The majority of this damage occurred under the watch of those close to or associated with "Friends of Pogonip" (which, again, intersects with the Sierra Club Santa Cruz Chapter Executive Committee).

Because of this selective approach, I oppose the long time members of the executive committee. The Sierra Club and IMBA have worked together to establish rules for off road use of bicycles. The local chapter has no tolerance for such things. I would expect a local chapter to not just look to providing good steward ship and protections for our open spaces (plants and animals) but also the potential for environmentally friendly recreational activities and usage of open spaces (especially those that have a history of use). Santa Cruz has an amazing industry based around healthy and ecologically friendly recreation -- mountain/road biking, hiking, surfing, etc. These should be embraced as part of an overall approach to a healthier and cleaner environment as well as a boost to the economy which will provide money to further invest in our open space and environmental interests.

On another note, I feel it is shameful that the Pogonip has been allowed to deteriorate into the condition that it currently is. A wasted opportunity in the 90s to protect a historic building which could have been used as a clubhouse or stop for people out enjoying the Pogonip. One just has to look to Europe, in particular the Alps, by providing a mix of multi use trails and facilities to relax/eat/drink, many people go out and hike or bike for most of a day, stopping in at huts to relax and socialize and then continue on with their day. There is much that could have been done with Pogonip that would maintain its sense of nature but not let it fall into the decline that it has under the stewardship of Celia and the Friends of Pogonip.
by Sierra activist
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 10:53 PM
I do wish the Pogonip clubhouse was restored. I think it would be wonderful. And yes, there are some real problems with managing open spaces in the city. Obviously this is an important policy debate. But I'm really saddened by the level of disrespect to long time Sierra Club activists.

People need to remember that Celia Scott's activism is one of the reasons that the Pogonip still exists as an open space and has not been carved up into executive mini-estates. She's done an enormous amount to preserve the city without the kind of sprawl that we see in Watsonville.

I don't understand why Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz can't just make the arguments as MBOSC? Why do you have to take over the Sierra Club and try to push Celia out of the way? And why not at least disclose that you are supporting your slate of activists with the intention of changing the Sierra Club policy on new paths for mountain bikers?

I got an email a few days ago that mostly talked about taking kids on trips. It just seems very deceptive.
by JimS
Tuesday Dec 20th, 2011 11:22 PM
"Activist" -

I'm speaking for myself, not for MBOSC. I am a cyclist, a hiker, surfer, and environmentalist.

My issue isn't about the good members of the Sierra Club have done, but the overall lack of willingness to be more open about the benefit of embracing the idea that being an environmentalist is not a a singular or narrow view.

Pogonip is a particular local hot button for many reasons. There were multiple community meetings as well as multiple environmental reviews that encouraged / acknowledged the benefit of multi use trails. Celia and her supporters orchestrated things such that this did not come about. Instead, we have the Pogonip Master Plan today. And this group argues that it should be sacrosanct or fixed in stone. Pogonip is open space, as a community we benefit that it is so and not housing or having a road through it (the eastern access is a whole other hot button issue). However, this same group of people are responsible for the current state. You can't tell me a hands off approach to Pogonip has been a success?

I also don't subscribe to "nature for the sake of nature" or "keep humans out" when we are talking about lands that have a history of extensive use (Arana Gulch being a former dairy where the land was heavily managed, or Pogonip that has lime kilns, was a golf course, and an extensive history as a recreational destination for dozens of years). I think there is a definite benefit to identifying critical habitat areas and protecting them based on the best practices of proper science.

In this case of Pogonip, however, Celia and the local chapter are on the wrong side. They focus on this being an issue of "bikers wanting access to all of Pogonip", but as hashed over in other comments (mine and others) this is not the case.

I reiterate my opinion that a local chapter, which the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Ventana Group is, should represent the overall opinion of the members in the local area. There is a history of the long time Santa Cruz Chapter executive committee pushing to have a singular voice without listening to others within the community who are members. This has lead to people leaving the Sierra Club. This is not healthy to the community or the membership base of the Sierra Club itself.

I personally feel that a broader perspective is needed. This is why I am supporting new blood on the local chapter Executive Committee.
by Sierra activist
Wednesday Dec 21st, 2011 9:17 AM
We have to be clear that we are not talking about just getting more members from the cycling community on the Sierra Club Board. People Power ran a slate last year and elected two of their members. We're talking about gaining a 5-4 majority on the board, which will mean the Santa Cruz Group will be pretty much run by local cycling advocacy groups. It's not clear to me that this is what all 3,000 Santa Cruz Group Sierra Club members really want.

I got a mailer the other day, that MBOSC helped pay for, that completely hides the cycling connection. The candidate bios don't mention ties to cycling advocacy groups, the endorsers don't mention their connections with People Power and the RTC BicycleCommittee, and the organization sending it is called "Local Sierra Club members."
by stop sleasy politics
Wednesday Dec 21st, 2011 2:38 PM
would anyone be willing to picket the people power office?
by Jean
Wednesday Dec 21st, 2011 9:22 PM
When John Muir started the Sierra Club almost 120 years ago, his goal was to save some of the natural world, starting with Yosemite. That focus was extended to the Sierra Nevada as a whole. There was no need to debate about for whom nature was being saved, but I'll bet Muir thought it belonged to itself, first and foremost. Recreation by Club members began in earnest in the 20s and 30s. Even today, the Club's motto contains the word "protect," along with "explore and enjoy."

Some of us lean heavily on the "protect" portion of the Club motto; others really like the explore and enjoy. One thing is for sure, there is no enjoyment without protection. Many in the Club also feel strongly that nature does have a right to be...for its own sake. As for "keeping humans out," this is an absurd distraction. No one is suggesting that humans be kept out of either Arana Gulch or Pogonip.

I first joined the Sierra Club in 1971, while living in western Montana, several years before moving to Santa Cruz. Yes, that makes me old. A grandmother, in fact. Not coy, as charged in an earlier comment. Just wise, as happens with age.

I am glad to read that Jim S thinks "there is a definite benefit to identifying critical habitat areas and protecting them based on the best practices of proper science." The coastal prairie grasslands at Arana Gulch, home to three different tarweedy species (including the endangered Holocarpha macredenia) was designated "critical habitat" for the tarplant by US Fish & Wildlife in 2002. This designation is pure science-based and had the City and People Power been wise, both would have backed off plans to pave a transportation and recreational short cut through the greenbelt's critical habitat.

As for Pogonip, I see the Sierra Club as distinctly being on the right, not wrong, side regarding Pogonip. That is, on the side of protection of current walking paths from moving vehicles (that is what cyclists operate). Local Club Groups and Chapters are required to adhere to National policies, or in the case of California, Sierra Club California policies. It is always a good idea to understand the limitations of change when one joins an organization. At some point, the national office will identify an obvious pattern of membership purchases for the purpose of turning policies upside down. This has been tried before; its a losing endeavor, even though it creates a lot of interim grief, as is happening with the current ExCom election.

I certainly hope that Club members in Santa Cruz will vote for Collins, Davie and Sullivan, so we will continue to focus on protection, as well as on the explore and enjoy portions of the Club's motto. ""Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity..." John Muir
by Sierra activist
Wednesday Dec 21st, 2011 10:42 PM
I bet a lot of Sierra Clubbers would picket People Power. Maybe after the holidays?
by Steve Schnaar
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 9:19 AM
For one thing, enough of this supposed conflict "between" cyclists and environmentalists. Cyclists ARE environmentalists. Many of my cyclist friends have taken far more risks than petty local Sierra Club members working to defend forests slated for clear-cutting... and also spend a lot of time advocating for cycling, or leading youth on rides.

Also please stop whining about a supposed "takeover", as if folks were buying up stock notes to take over the Sierra Club corporation. In reality you have an election process, in which only Sierra Club members can vote. If they don't want to vote for you, then go home and shut up.
by Kevin Collins
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 12:35 PM
Responding to this assertion that cyclists are environmentalists....

As a long time conservation activist (forests, water, endangered species, land conservation, zoning etc.) and the current chair of the Santa Cruz County Group of the Sierra Club's Executive Committee, I can attest to the fact that none of the cycling advocates who have sat in on our open meetings now for years, have ever offered to work on ANY conservation topic. They are there for one reason only. That reason is to oppose the Sierra Club in regard to positions taken that might affect their access to particular parks and preserve lands that are regulated by public agencies.

I have asked individuals from these single-issue cycling interest groups what conservation subject they were interested in. I have offered to involve them in conservation work in the past. Not one has ever volunteered to work on any of the conservation work the local Sierra Club is doing.

Questions affecting cycling access to public lands is an absolutely miniscule part of the work the Sierra Club does. We go for months without discussing any issue that would, in any way, connect with it. Nonetheless these bicycle people are positively obsessed with the fact that the Sierra Club is sometimes expected, by its broad-based membership, to occasionally comment on bicycle access. It is a simple fact that many hikers do not like to be threatened or struck by speeding bicycles. It is also a simple fact that asphalt is not conducive to natural resource protection. Building elaborate paved 8 to 12 feet wide roads over rare pieces of God's Green Earth is not the act of "environmentalists".

Cycling is a means of inexpensive and healthy transportation or it is a sport. Is is not environmentalism. Riding a bicycle does not make one an "environmentalist". I am a professional conservation advocate with extensive knowledge of environmental law and administrative procedure. People like me PROTECT the public lands that bicyclists can then access for their sport. We are not the enemy of bicyclists. This argument is preposterous. The Sierra Club does not decide where bicycles can be ridden. Public agencies decide these questions. We simply offer our opinion occasionally on the subject. Please get over it. I know that you are not listening, but this argument is a waste of everyone's time.
by JimS
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 4:06 PM
Kevin -

I can't speak to specific members of People Power, MBOSC, or other organizations. But, using "cyclists that attend meetings" as a basis for who you may or may not have talked with is a very narrow segment of people. I would like to point out, that many cyclists have been put off by the attitude of the local chapter in regards to cycling. For instance, you, yourself just stated --

"Building elaborate paved 8 to 12 feet wide roads over rare pieces of God's Green Earth is not the act of "environmentalists". "

This is a theme that keeps popping up by people like yourself, Friends of Pogonip, etc. in regards to the proposed multi-use trail. At no time in the current proposal has the option of a paved trail been on the table for the Pogonip. Yet, the local Sierra Club chapter members and other like minded people keep trying to bring this meme up. It just isn't true.

In Pogonip, Rincon Road/Spring Road are amongst some of the oldest roads in the county. Yes, they are "roads". Still used by maintenance and patrol vehicles, for instance. Yet, in 1997 when multi use advocates asked for access to these roads, the Sierra Club (in a letter penned by Peter Scott) argued against bikes, not on environmental grounds but on the grounds of "places for hikers to be free of bicyclists". This is not an environmental stance, but rather one of access for a singular group. Peter's letter can be found here -- -- about 3/4 of the way down the page. So, the local chapter, while providing some strong environmental stewardship over the years has also played a game of fear mongering and rhetorical arguments with regard to multi use access to established trails (including roads).

I spend a significant amount of time in another of our local parks -- De Laveaga. I both hike and bike there. I've never seen horses, but I've interfaced with other bikers, hikers, dog walkers (on and off leash), trail runners, small children, etc. When this issue of "hikers versus bikers" came up at one of the recent city meetings regarding the proposed trail, I asked the City Parks Rangers if they knew of any reports of incidents between hikers and bikers at De Laveaga. Their answer -- "No". And, this is a park with a very tight, narrow set of trails along a hill side.

If the arguments were just environmental, I think there would be much more agreement and working together on things. However, the openly hostile view to multi-use and the rhetoric that goes with it on properties like Pogonip -- which are at the urban/openspace interface, have an established history of use (vehicular, logging, bike polo, golf course, etc) is not an environmental issue it is one of exclusivity for a particular user segment.

Another area of extreme hypocrisy with the members opposing the Pogonip trail (and it has been seen in this thread, when I have brought it up) is the refusal of Sierra Club members who support those currently on the Executive Committee to acknowledge the environmental damage done by the illegal activity, drugs, and gangs within the portion of the Pogonip that is currently closed. Celia Scott, Friends of Pogonip, and the Sierra Club did nothing about this until the trail was proposed (by City Parks and First Responders). I would argue that Take Back Santa Cruz, MBOSC, the local Equestrians, and other non-traditional (per your definition) environmentally concerned citizens have done more to clean up the area than yourself or those supporting you.

Human waste, drug paraphernalia, trash, etc. in a watershed *ARE* an environmental concern. Is it likely to get as much press as saving a strand of old growth? No. But is it just as (or maybe in some cases more so) important locally? In my opinion, yes. (And, I've done a bit on the old growth side of things).

I would like to note, I am not of the opinion that every road, trail, or track need to be open to all, but there can be a balance. Good sight lines, proper signage, as well as education and outreach to educate people on trail etiquette can go along way. So, my argument isn't one of "open for all", but one of mutual respect, conversation, and moving forward together to reach a consensus on access. The Sierra Club local group has exclusively advocated for a no-access, except for hikers stance. And, before it comes up again, the "rail trail" is not going to happen -- see prior comments when this issue was looked into a few years back.

Oh, but, those needles and trash I picked up in Pogonip and as part of beach cleanups aren't environmentalism. Sorry, I forgot about that.

by freedom of speech
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 5:36 PM
you are right that biking is good for the environment. oil is killing the planet. i am neither a biker nor an environmentalist , but i know sleazy politics when i see it. speaking out against sleazy politics is a fundamental right. i am saddened you advocate hushing the dissent of others.
a picket of people power over this is valid and just.
by Nail
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 5:43 PM
It seems that you are confusing POGONP with Arana Gulch.
A $5 million, 12 foot road through the center of ESHA is bisecting the habitat for an endangered species.
True Environmentalist know this is not good.

The Rail Trail has been on the General Plan for 30 years and there are public meetings going on now. You are welcome to comment to RTC.

The narrow interest bicyclist, who support People Power's power play, to unseat real environmentalist (that have worked without pay for years), with their members, is more then sad.
It is also bad for the protection of the environment.

As Kevin said, these new people, pushed forward and funded by People Power and other development and political cronies, have never worked with the local club and now want to take it over. Pay to eliminate those who speak truth to power.

They say that the local club has never done anything but say no.
This is true, no to development of Lighthouse Field, Porter Sesnon/Wingspread, the North Coast, the Davenport Nuke Plant, the freeway widening...
While saying yes to Smart Growth, Urban infill along transportation. Yes to Open Space. Yes to forests, fish, endangered species...

Kevin, Dave and Mark have been in the trenches, they are not single focus, S C City-centric bicycle elitist, who see every open space as a bike road. They are true environmentalist, that also recognize the importance of getting away from man made artifices and celebrate the quite heart of nature.
They are big picture people who understand the interconnection of the ecology of the planet.

Many real environmentalist, who use bikes, have dropped their membership from People Power. They no long wish to pay Lobists, that care more about their ego and political power, then the bigger picture of preserving our presious natural resources.

PS a trail from Hwy 9 along the Rail line would not interfere with POGONIP
by JimS
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 6:03 PM
"Nail" -

Paving open space has been brought up for both Arana Gulch as well as Pogonip. Personally, I am mixed on Arana Gulch, as I prefer natural or permeable surfaces to pavement. Also, arguing for/against the tar weed/plant has it's own issues since the plant was more successful while the property was under active use (the dairy).

I'm not confusing the paving issue at all, the issue of paving in Pogonip was brought up by this article, by members of Friends of Pogonip as well as Sierra Club at the assorted City meetings on the multi-use trail, and other locations. It is a way of obscuring the actual arguments against a MUT in Pogonip.

As far as the Rail Trail goes, yes, the RTC is looking to move forward on the trail from South County out to Davenport. This is not the "rail trail" I am mentioning. The trail I mention is the one that Celia and Peter Scott were both pushing as recently as a couple of months ago -- that would go along the Roaring Camp line up towards the San Lorenzo Valley, see Andrea's previous comment which she takes from the Pogonip Master Plan Amendment Study dated 10/12/2011.

When it comes to the issue of local multi use trails within our *local* parks, the local Sierra Club Group Executive Committee has definitely been consistent in saying "No" whenever they can. I support the overall goals and work of the National level, I have misgivings at the overall approach the Santa Cruz Group has taken on local issues when it pertains to general access and multi use -- specifically in reference to non-pristine open spaces within the urban interface.
by Jean
Thursday Dec 22nd, 2011 7:22 PM
As this discussion continues, it would be helpful if everyone understood that Arana Gulch and Pogonip are not "parks." They are identified in the City's current General Plan as Natural Areas.

Natural Areas may not be pristine and they may be harmed by anti-social behavior (litter, camping, drug use, etc.), but their basic essence is natural or at least restorable to natural. In the case of Arana Gulch, the grasslands were grazed for thousands of years by native ungulates (elk, deer) and small mammals (gophers). Ohlone people may have even burned the grasses, but this is not documented. Two hundred years ago -- considered very recent in the grasslands history -- domesticated animals were introduced (cows). The point is that some critter always grazed and disturbed the grasslands and that is why, to this day, three tarweedy species (and their associated web of life species) exist at Arana Gulch. Red-tailed hawks, American Kestrels and even turkey buzzards (Cathartes aura) soar over this small island of life, looking for lunch.

I do not know the natural history of the Pogonip greenbelt landscape as well as Arana Gulch, but my educated guess it that it contains as much biodiversity the Arana Gulch greenbelt.

Arana Gulch is not a park. And neither is Pogonip.
by G
Monday Dec 26th, 2011 8:02 AM
The haze of poverty demonization surrounding this issue is remarkable. For those spewing it, I ask; when was the last time you got so obsessively rhetorical about the pollution and destruction carried out by the forces you implicitly fight for? Millions have been killed. Where is your voice? Trillions have been stolen. Where is your voice? The planet is being strangled and you complain about more exercise track?!
by Angela Flynn
(angelaflynn80 [at] Monday Dec 26th, 2011 11:40 AM
I can't believe this. Micah Posner is pro development? Keresha Durham, while not named, but a known cycling advocate and presumably one of the alleged conspirators new to the Sierra Club Board, as well? I think that change is always hard, especially for those who are entrenched in power. For those of us who know the people you are smearing you come across as an old boy network that is threatened by new ideas and people. Is the current board against bike trails or is it only against paved bike trails? I have not been following the Arana Gulch trail issue as I just moved back to the area, but paved bike trails seem like a win win situation to me. Dirt trails erode and people tend to wander further and further off the trail in wet muddy conditions. Paved trails keep people off of sensitive areas, however I hope that any trail under consideration will use porous asphalt, which technically is not considered a paved trail.

While I am for preserving forest and wild spaces, I am also for encouraging more bike riding. We need this. I spent the last two years commuting by bike on the Capitol Crescent Trail. This paved trail gives commuters an easy way to avoid car use. Please, to whoever wins the upcoming election, advocate for more bike trails.
by SLB
Monday Dec 26th, 2011 7:19 PM
Re: The industry promotion of porous asphalt as an environmentally sound alternative, and the comment above from Angela Flynn that porous asphalt "technically is not considered a paved trail."

Porous asphalt, aka open-grade, is indeed a paved surface, commonly used as the top layer on highway resurfacing projects to increase safety in wet weather by reducing surface water and spray.

Black asphalt surfaces increase the surrounding heat index and degrade in extreme temperatures. The large voids of porous asphalt allow surface water to filtrate suspended solids, metals, oil and grease into the soil below and eventually the groundwater.

Any "road surface" through Arana Gulch or Pogonip (parallel to the RR tracks only) should be limited to compact dirt, i.e. an "engineered natural surface," or the occasional concrete or wooden raised bridge.
BTW: When did Tawn Kennedy, Greg McPheeters, and Mary Odegaard join the Sierra Club?
by JimS
Monday Dec 26th, 2011 8:44 PM
Angela -

From my experience, the entrenched old guard and their friends hate bikes for anything other than an "alternative form of transportation". This group did absolutely *NOTHING* about the drugs, litter, and criminal activity in the Pogonip until Parks and Rec, Police, etc proposed a trail to get people into the area and use it. Once they heard bikes might be allowed, they started shrieking about the evils of bikes, how the Pogonip Master Plan (which they and their friends rammed through despite multiple surveys supporting bikes at the time) can't be changed, and so on.

While there is probably common ground between many people that support bikes and those that don't, an absolutist view of the evils of multi-use for local parks and open space (which have a history of use -- vehicles, golf course, dairy farm, etc), makes dealing with them on local issues pointless. Someone once told me, if you want to affect change within the Sierra Club, you need to get elected to the executive board. To me, it seems that people who are fed up with the current situation are doing just that.

by Sierra activist
Tuesday Dec 27th, 2011 10:46 AM
I heard that Tawn Kennedy only joined in the past year, and that Greg McPheeters was a member of the Loma Prieta Chapter in Silicon Valley until recently.
by hikerdave
Tuesday Dec 27th, 2011 2:28 PM
I heard that most mountain bike trails in the Santa Cruz mountains are user built and not legal, and that state parks has been cracking down. So are you wanting to open more hiking trails to mountain bikes, or just make the existing mountain bike trails legal?
by JimS
Tuesday Dec 27th, 2011 7:39 PM
Hike Dave -

I, personally feel, that all parties need to come together and discuss the issue reasonably and be open to some give and take. Unfortunately, over the last twenty years the biking community has tried to work towards opening new trails -- Coast Dairies, Grey Whale, the Pogonip *fire roads* -- to no luck. The only actual new trail that was built was UConn, many years ago. Any progress has been fought by the local Sierra Club, Friends of Pogonip, and others. Kevin Collin's statement that the local chapter isn't interested in bike issues flies in complete contrast to their actions -- go back and read the letters in the discussion of the Pogonip MultiUse trail in 1997 -- has a number of these.

Specifically to your questions -- do I think all hiking trails should be open to bikers? No. I think new trails are needed and I feel that user groups should work together to address the obvious increase in demand for biking trails. IMBA and other organizations have worked with communities around the country to establish bike parks as well as work with existing parks to provide single use (hike or bike or equestrian) trails.

As to the illegal trails, there have been illegal trails as long as I've lived in Santa Cruz (21+ years) -- when I first got here, I didn't even know they were illegal -- I even used to ride down the fire road from UCSC into Pogonip to just get away and read near the lime kilns. I think there are more people using them now than then, due to the increase in demand. I'm not going to say they should be made legal, because I think one would want to take a look at the overall impact, sustainability, location, etc. I do think more trails are needed. I know a common way this is achieved is that a new trail is established and the old trail rehabilitated. In fact, part of the Pogonip trail proposal is to rehabilitate a number of the spider trails caused by the drug and illicit camping traffic along with building the new one.

Until there is an honest and open dialog (and not the threat of lawsuits and dragging things out until the end of days) on the side of the old guard Sierra Club and friends, this issue will continue to fester.

by hikerdave
Tuesday Dec 27th, 2011 8:37 PM
How many of the mountain bikers do you think are local vs. from the Bay Area?
by JimS
Tuesday Dec 27th, 2011 9:30 PM
Dave -

Local versus bay area? In what sense?

I know there is a very large, local to Santa Cruz county biking community. Ages ranging from children to 60s and 70s. Just last weekend, I rode in Wilder with individuals (male and female) in their mid/late 60s as well as a family with a 10 year old daughter. The demographic is diverse in age, background, and gender. Further, both in Santa Cruz (and in the Bay Area), a group known as Trips for Kids is being used as a way to get at risk youth out into nature and exposing them to alternative activities.

If you mean those that ride in Santa Cruz? I know there are many people that come to Santa Cruz as a destination. Many people come over, to ride Soquel Demonstration Forest or park at the base of Wilder and ride the park. Aside from the lack of trails issue, it fits with Santa Cruz being a tourist destination. One might argue that looking at Downieville or Moab as examples where cycle tourism has benefitted communities with activities that expose people to nature and get them outdoors.

by localresident
Wednesday Dec 28th, 2011 4:51 AM
If you own property in Santa Cruz County, please realize that the Sierra Club's influence on the planning process is stronger than you might think. You may give $250 a year to the Sierra Club and also pay in addition many thousands for permits, approvals and plan fees that you hadn't exactly planned for in your dream home's budget -- or merely to fix your own driveway after a storm.

There is a difference between respecting the environment and favoring "Don't build it, don't fix it, don't use it" policies that would leave the Pogonip to the mercy of drug dealers. In Santa Cruz County we are lucky to be entrusted with the protection of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world -- but people don't know it's worth protecting unless they have a chance to experience it.
by Steven Argue
Thursday Dec 29th, 2011 12:28 AM
"The Santa Cruz tarplant is a unique part of the vanishing coastal prairie and grassland ecosystems...Critical habitat highlights the areas needed by the Santa Cruz tarplant to survive. The limited range and small number of populations of this plant make it especially vulnerable to extinction. The more people who are aware of the species' habitat needs, the more likely it will be saved from extinction." - Steve Thompson (USFWS California/Nevada Operations office)
by JimS
Thursday Dec 29th, 2011 7:40 PM
So, the Santa Cruz Tar Plant/Weed has really only flourished on a property that was under active use/management. Can the local CNPS/Sierra Club individuals/Friends of Arana Gulch please explain to me how returning Arana to a purely unmanaged open space will benefit this species? My second question would be, given this plant only thrived while the property was under *ACTIVE* management, why it should be sustained by spending local city dollars on the property management to maintain it?

Will the local CNPS and Sierra Cllub chapter be chipping in for it's maintenance?

I'm in full support of native plants (and an on-again/off-again CNPS member), but something that requires active management, raises alarm bells for me...
by DW
Friday Dec 30th, 2011 8:37 AM
...statements from an agency who is best known for using extremely faulty science and uttering falsehoods whenever necessary aren't worth the paper they're written on. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists got called out for lying by a federal judge here in Fresno not very long ago....
by Jean
Friday Dec 30th, 2011 8:13 PM
JimS ~

It is difficult to know, simply from your words, whether you are being facetious or whether you are truly unknowledgeable regarding an endangered species. It does not help, of course, for you to use the pejorative "weed" when referring to the tarplant.

To immediately correct your misunderstanding of the science, the tarplant at Arana Gulch flourished for probably tens of thousands of years with grazing and disturbance, both part of its habitat. Recently (150 years ago) the native grazers of this area (elk and deer) were replaced by cows. Even after the cows were gone, there was still grazing (by gophers, don't laugh), as well as disturbance (by gophers). A very simple, low cost, low tech manual mowing and prescribed burns (a great training exercise for the local fire fighters), plus low tech grazing (easily scheduled with several domesticated animal owners) could have been established 20 years ago. Plenty of volunteer workers are always ready to assist in this endeavor. This is a living life lab and educational jewel. No one is suggesting that Arana Gulch be returned to "a purely unmanaged open space..."

Whether or not one agrees, the City Parks Dept. is required to manage all of its open spaces, natural areas and parks. This is nothing new or unique to Arana Gulch. Management is the opposite of benign neglect. All of the natural world has suffered greatly by human habitation. What is wrong with humans giving back just a wee bit of their wealth to allow other non-human life forms to continue to exist?

Friends of Arana Gulch (FOAG) has volunteered for years. Both FOAG and CNPS are listed as volunteer groups on the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the CA Dept. of Fish & Game. There have even been seasons when we (FOAG) found tarplant that the City's contracted botanists missed. This past summer we (FOAG) performed field studies and research and reported our findings and recommendations to the Dept. of Parks. We did this on our own time. To our delight, the City incorporated our specific trio of management prescriptions this fall.

By the way, Jim, perhaps you might be interested in why Holocarpha macradenia is called a tarplant. This plant species, extremely well adapted to its environment (winter rains, summer drought), comes up late in the summer, usually not seen before the end of July or early August. In order to conserve its bodily fluids, it has a resinous coating (thus the "tar" word) to retain moisture to get it through the summer and fall. This is a remarkable evolutionary adaptation and deserves awe, not ridicule.

Interesting concept that "something that requires active management" raises alarm bells for you. What is it exactly that humans require? Less to survive? Or a great deal of management? Personally, I think a little more humility is in order.

by Sierra activist
Sunday Jan 1st, 2012 11:57 PM
The California building code has gotten complicated because of earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. So if you don't mind your master bedroom addition falling on you in an earthquake, or burning brands falling on your flammable roof or deck and jumping into your house and burning it to a cinder, or your poorly built house foundation washing into the creek in a torrential rain, then don't bother working with County Planning and building to code.

Ninety-nine percent of the building codes are about safe buildings that last, not protecting the environment.
by Bratton (repost)
Tuesday Feb 7th, 2012 9:15 AM
SIERRA CLUB AND NEW DIRECTIONS. Small bets are being placed around the County as to the future political direction that the newly electeds will have on the Sierra Club, Santa Cruz Chapter. Once upon a time the Sierra Club took strong positions on issues affecting our environment. The Club opposed development that wasn’t sustainable, and even took stands against allowing mountain bikes onto any land where they would create erosion and endanger hikers. Now those new board members it is wagered will turn the Sierra Club into a social club with cutesy parties and nary a strong voice for our Greenbelt or planet…we’ll see, we’ll see.
by blaah to sectarians
Tuesday Mar 6th, 2012 5:06 PM
Um, the pogonip is full of FIRE ROADS that rangers and police drive PICKUP TRUCKS AND CARS on.

ONE multi use trail might increase legitimate traffic and reduce drug dealing.

It certainly won't make eroision worse than pickups and cars.

And anyways, why can't the environmentalists and the mountain bikers band together to stop the expansion of UCSC into upper campus, which is way more environmentally pristine and valuable than pogonip, and is allready full of mountain bikers anyways.

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