SBNF-Monitoring-Report-2009The purpose of the USFS Monitoring and Evaluation Report is to determine the effectiveness of the Land Management Plan and to determine whether changes are necessary.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Report is an annual update on what’s going on in the San Bernardino National Forest. Below are selections from these reports that relate to trails in the Big Bear area. Fiscal years run October through September.

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2006 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2006 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

SBNF-Monitoring-Report-2006South Ridge Unit 4 Reforestation:

Unauthorized mountain bike use is occurring within portions of the project area adjacent to the community but appeared to be concentrated to one trail; restored skid trails had not been breached.

Recommendations –  To comply with Standard 37 in preventing unauthorized mechanized vehicle use within fuel treatment areas, where fuel objectives can be met, consider leaving shrubs, rocks and logs adjacent to roads for screening. Plant trees or shrubs where skid trails intersect roads and trails. Direct unauthorized mountain bike and vehicle use to locations that can be managed.

Fuels reduction crews often create short term paths that their machines use to access areas. It appears that mountain bikes were using these skid trails.

LMP Monitoring Protocol Recommendations

Address the monitoring of progress on the designation or removal of user-created trails similar to the addressing of roads in route designation, in partnership with the user groups.

This is an example of how the USFS doesn’t automatically remove user created trails; there are multiple times when the phrasing includes both “designation” (introduction into the system) and “removal”.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2007 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2007 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

Unavailable online.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2008 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2008 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

Skyline Shaded Fuelbreak

The team was also informed that there are several traffic collisions each year on 2N10 between vehicles and mountain bikes, so it may be safer to locate a mountain bike trail on the fuelbreak in the future.

The Skyline Shaded Fuelbreak now contains 15 miles of non-motorized trail called the Skyline Trail. This is a good indicator of the importance of these documents.

Table 1. Annual Performance Indicators (FY 2008)

Miles of Trail Operated and Maintained to Standard = 16

The question that arises is “What trails were maintained to standard”? Because we’ve done the research on the standards of trails, it’s easier to understand the work that is being done. We will work with the USFS to determine, specifically, what trails are being maintained during the fiscal year.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2009 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander” findme=”auto”]

Fiscal Year 2009 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

Very little information about non-motorized trails in the Big Bear area is  presented in this report. There is a large amount concerning OHV’s (off highway vehicles), their impact, and the Adopt-a-Trail programs run by OHV Volunteers. While not directly applicable to non-motorized trails, the manner in which these Monitoring Reports follow up on the trail construction in subsequent years, and the way the OHV Adopt-a-Trail programs are managed can serve as useful examples.

Table 1. Annual Strategic Plan Performance Indicators (FY 2009)

Miles of Trail Operated and Maintained to Standard = 116

The question that arises is “What trails were maintained to standard”? Because we’ve done the research on the standards of trails, it’s easier to understand the work that is being done. We will work with the USFS to determine, specifically, what trails are being maintained during the fiscal year.

Inventoried Unauthorized Roads and Trails

The number of inventoried unauthorized roads and trails will be used as an additional indicator of the effectiveness of the Forest’s movement towards desired conditions. The concentration of recreation activities has increased the pressure on areas surrounding authorized infrastructure that has led to an increase in unauthorized roads and trails.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2010 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2010 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

SBNF-Monitoring-Report-2010

The above chart shows the forest service has not met the estimated Forest Annual Need in the LMP over the five year monitoring period.

ARRA Trail Maintenance Monitoring

The review of Region-wide ARRA Trail Maintenance project implementation occurred on July 26, 2011 as part of the new project monitoring under the Facilities Operations & Maintenance functional area. This American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project completed Forest-wide routine repair and maintenance of non-motorized and motorized trails and trailhead facilities.

In fiscal year 2010 a target of 35.9 miles of trail maintenance and 5 miles of trail improvement was set, and 250.9 miles of maintenance and 51.3 miles of improvement were accomplished. This project was identified as one of the first 10% of shovel-ready projects that received ARRA funding to create jobs. Work was accomplished through partnerships with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC), the California Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Urban Conservation Corps of the San Bernardino National Forest Association (SBNFA).

This project was analyzed under a Categorical Exclusion and an R5 ARRA Checklist CE that was developed for ARRA projects was used to document the analysis. A  Trail-Specific Checklist of Design Criteria  was developed as part of the Biological Assessment/Evaluation, and was completed in advance by District staff for coordination with resource specialists.

In the future, we will endeavor to make available details of trail maintenance activities in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Alpine Pedal Path Interpretive Site

Monitoring: The field review of the Alpine Pedal Path Interpretive Site occurred on June 20, 2011 on the Mountaintop Ranger District as part of the ongoing site monitoring under the Public Use & Enjoyment functional area.

SBNF-Monitoring-Report-2010-AThe Alpine Pedal Path was constructed in 1990 and 1991 as part of the North Shore Recreation complex and is approximately 3.2 miles long with a half mile spur that leads to the Big Bear Discovery Center. The pedal path is a highly used trail along the north shore of Big Bear Lake. The land acquisition, analysis, and decision for the North Shore Recreation complex were completed in 1977.

The campground concessionaire for the North Shore Recreation complex maintains the Pedal Path. However, under the new permitting regulations that begin in 2012, the concessionaire will no longer be responsible for trail maintenance, as it is not a revenue generating facility.

Conclusions: The Alpine Pedal Path Interpretive Site is consistent with Forest Goal 3.1 to provide for public use and natural resource protection. This site is consistent with LMP Strategy REC 2 – Sustainable Use and Environmental Design by managing visitor use within the limits of identified capabilities. Design criteria identified in the project analysis for Bald Eagle protection are not being implemented.

Cougar Crest Trailhead

Monitoring: The field review of the Cougar Crest Trailhead occurred on June 20, 2011 on the Mountaintop Ranger District as part of the ongoing site monitoring under the Public Use & Enjoyment functional area. The Cougar Crest trailhead consists of a paved parking area for 10-12 cars and a vault toilet. The trailhead is part of the North Shore Recreation complex, and connects to the Pedal Path through a bridge to the Discovery Center and a culvert under California Highway 38 to Serrano Campground.

SBNF-Monitoring-Report-2010-B

Cougar Crest trail connects to Pacific Crest Trail. There is a Mountain Bike use conflict between the Cougar Crest trail and the Pacific Crest Trail; Cougar Crest trail allows Mountain Bike use and connects into the Pacific Crest Trail that does not allow Mountain Bike use. There are issues with user created trail spurs at the trailhead. Cougar Crest trail is an old roadbed and has some erosion issues because of the large tread area.

Supportive Information: as we design a network, this information can be used to create an alternative trail legal for mountain bikes at the current connection between the PCT and Cougar Crest.

Conclusions: The Cougar Crest Trailhead is consistent with Forest Goal 3.1 to provide for public use and natural resource protection. This site is consistent with LMP Strategy REC 2 – Sustainable Use and Environmental Design by managing visitor use within the limits of identified capabilities.

Recommendations: The Cougar Crest trail width needs to be defined and restricted to mitigate hydrology issues.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2011 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2011 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

Idyllwild Spring Challenge Recreation Permit

Monitoring: The field review of the Idyllwild Spring Challenge Recreation Permit implementation occurred on June 7, 2012 on the San Jacinto Ranger District for new project monitoring under the Public Use and Enjoyment management functional area. This project was analyzed under an Environmental Assessment and the decision to authorize the mountain bike race permit was made in April of 2011. The race was held the last weekend of April of 2011. The race was authorized on historic roadbeds and user created trails in the May Valley area. Design criteria for erosion and Quino checkerspot butterfly, an endangered species, were implemented. The effectiveness of design criteria were monitored post implementation.

Conclusions: The Idyllwild Spring Challenge Recreation Permit implementation is consistent with Forest Goal 3.1 to provide for public use and natural resource protection. This project implements LMP Strategy REC 5 – Recreation Special Use Authorizations by managing the permit in compliance with law, regulation, and policy, and administering it to standard. This project is inconsistent with LMP Standard 35 which restricts non-motorized vehicle travel to NFS roads and trails. The timeframe of analysis, decision, and implementation was extremely condensed which limited the opportunity to implement design criteria for hydrology and wildlife.

Recommendations: A trail system analysis should be conducted to determine if trails in this area should be included in the NFS system.

While not in Big Bear, the above situation is interesting because it involves non-system trails being officially used in a sanctioned recreational event. Additionally, the May Valley area is the subject of a current Environmental Assessment analyzing the feasibility of bringing these trails into the system.

Baldwin Lake Stables Outfitter/ Guide Permit Monitoring

The field review of the Baldwin Lake Stables Outfitter/ Guide Permit occurred on September 5, 2012 on the Mountaintop Ranger District as part of ongoing activity monitoring under the Public Use and Enjoyment management functional area. Permits were issued for 5 years in 1991 and 1997. This activity continues to occur under an expired permit for guided horseback tours in the Baldwin Lake area.

Currently, the use is on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, but the last permit issued in 1997 also authorized a trail on the south Baldwin Ridge. This authorized trail travels through Pebble Plains habitat. Efforts were taken to analyze and renew the permit in 2001 with surveys for wildlife, botany, and archeology undertaken, but no decision or permit was issued at this time. The 2001 analysis identified concerns for Bald Eagle habitat, Pebble Plains habitat, erosion on the authorized trail, and archeological sites that could potentially be part of an historic district. Design criteria and changes to the use were identified at that time to reduce the impacts to these resources.

Conclusions: The Baldwin Lake Stables Outfitter/ Guide Permit is not consistent with Forest Goal 3.1 because the permit has not been administered to standard, design criteria have not been incorporated into the operation, and a current permit has not been issued for this activity. This activity does not implement LMP Strategy REC 5 –Recreation Special Use Authorizations because the permit has not been administered to standard.

Recommendations: Establish a system to review expired special use authorizations to determine if the use is still appropriate on National Forest System lands. Review operating plan for current permits to ensure that use is consistent with law, regulation, and policy. Analyze activity to determine if the permit should be renewed.

This situation is of interest because the mentioned trail approved in the initial permit, on the South Baldwin Ridge, is non a system trail. It’s important for us to understand when non-system trails can be used for official purposes.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2012 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2012 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

Table 2: Part 2 Monitoring Summary

Miles of Trail Operated and Maintained to Standard: 135

The question that arises is “What trails were maintained to standard”? Because we’ve done the research on the standards of trails, it’s easier to understand the work that is being done. We will work with the USFS to determine, specifically, what trails are being maintained during the fiscal year.

Water Quality Monitoring

Best Management Practices Evaluation Program (BMPEP): Forest Service obligations to the State Water Board Management Area Agreement include 1) correcting water quality problems on the Forest, 2) perpetually implementing the Best Management Practice (BMPs) and 3) monitoring and evaluating effectiveness of BMPs.

Results: The Forest contributed to the restoration of deteriorated watershed lands by completing road and trail maintenance and fuel reduction projects.

While water quality doesn’t seem directly related to trails, there is a good amount of emphasis in all of these reports on how infrastructure (roads and trails) affect how water naturally drains throughout the landscape. Funds are allocated to ensure the watershed retains intact, and if non-system roads and trails are harming the watershed, these funds can be used to address this problem. This means that there may be funds and purpose available to address the many non-system trails in Big Bear and find ways to bring them into the system in a manner that mitigates the damage to the watershed.

Recreation Event Permits

Monitoring: The field review of the Recreation Event Permits on the Forest occurred on July 10, 2013 on the Mountaintop Ranger District for new project monitoring under the Public Use and Enjoyment functional area. The FLT participated in the field review. The project monitored in the field was the Snow Summit Ski Area permit that allows for summer uses such as mountain bike use. The trails have up to 1500 users per day. The ski lift provides users a easy way to access to Skyline Drive (NFS road 2N10) and trails paralleling this road on to NFS lands. Interpretive and wildlife information signs are on display at the top of the lift; providing education and information to the public on FS wildlife resources and general recreation policies and regulations.

Conclusions: The Recreation Event Permits on the Forest are consistent with Forest Goal 3.1 to provide for public use and natural resource protection. This project implements LMP Strategy REC 5 – Recreation Special Use Authorizations by managing the permit in compliance with law, regulation, and policy, and administering
it to standard. This project is consistent with LMP Standard 35 which restricts non-motorized vehicle travel to NFS roads and trails.

Recommendations: Ensure that appropriate signing exists both within the permitted area and adjoining areas.

During this period and subsequently, significant directional signage has been added to the area by local trail advocates. There are plans to add interpretive signage during 2015.

Camp Creek Trailhead

campcreek2Monitoring: The field review of the Camp Creek Trailhead occurred on July 10, 2013 on the Mountaintop Ranger District as part of ongoing activity monitoring under the Facility Operations & Maintenance management functional area. The site has been designated for over 25 years and provides access to trails that drop into Siberia Creek. The trailhead and access road had been recently graded. There is only a trail registry and bulletin board for posting information; no facilities are present at this location. The NFS trail 1W09 was overgrown and needed maintenance. The trail receives low levels of use, but there has been interest to hold a recreation event in the future.

Conclusions: The Camp Creek Trailhead is consistent with Forest Goal 3.1 to provide for public use and natural resource protection. This site implements LMP Strategy REC 2 – Sustainable Use and Environmental Design by managing the site within the limits of the identified capacities.

Recommendations:  Trail maintenance opportunities with volunteer groups needs to be explored. Any future recreation permits need to be consistent with the Forest Plan and should address any necessary improvements to the associated infrastructure that would be necessary to accommodate the increased use.

A local recreational running event, the Kodiak Ultramarathon, used this trail under permit in the fall of 2013 and 2014. Since the field review volunteer work has occurred on this trail and the connecting trail to the South Shore, Siberia Creek.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2013 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2013 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

You can find this report here.

Table 2: Part 2 Monitoring Summary

Miles of Trail Operated and Maintained to Standard: 198

The question that arises is “What trails were maintained to standard”? Because we’ve done the research on the standards of trails, it’s easier to understand the work that is being done. We will work with the USFS to determine, specifically, what trails are being maintained during the fiscal year.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program Monitoring

OHV trail maintenance was conducted using a small bulldozer, a front end loader and/or hand tools to remove rock and debris, grade trail tread, increase height of rolling dips, and to clean out over side drains. Culverts and drains were armed with native rock. To reduce sedimentation and dissipate flow, the 2E43 Hixon and the 2W01 Trail crossings were hardened using 4 tons of rock.

We also purchased 40 and installed 25 Big and Little Macks along trails to assist with drainage and reduce sedimentation in streams. Additional Best Management Practices (BMPs) were utilized to create soil catch basins in rolling dip lead outs. This allowed the dozer operator to recapture sediment and use it in the trail tread. The combination of all actions led to stabilization of soils on OHV routes.

In all of these Monitoring Reports, there is significant documentation on the OHV programs in the forest. The above passage provides good detail on the OHV trail maintenance during FY 2013; we would like to see the same amount of detail provided for non-motorized trails in our forest.

Water Quality Monitoring

Best Management Practices Evaluation Program (BMPEP): Forest Service obligations to the State Water Board Management Area Agreement include 1) correcting water quality problems on the Forest, 2) perpetually implementing the Best Management Practice (BMPs) and 3) monitoring and evaluating effectiveness of BMPs.

Results: The Forest contributed to the restoration of deteriorated watershed lands by completing road and trail maintenance and fuel reduction projects including the Thomas Mountain Fuels Reduction Project, Bluff Mesa Hazardous Fuel Reduction Project, and the Arrastre Creek Stream Crossing project.

While water quality doesn’t seem directly related to trails, there is a good amount of emphasis in all of these reports on how infrastructure (roads and trails) affect how water naturally drains throughout the landscape. Funds are allocated to ensure the watershed retains intact, and if non-system roads and trails are harming the watershed, these funds can be used to address this problem. This means that there may be funds and purpose available to address the many non-system trails in Big Bear and find ways to bring them into the system in a manner that mitigates the damage to the watershed.

Skyline Trail Construction Project

Skyline-Build-DayMonitoring: The field review of the Skyline Trail Construction Project occurred on September 16, 2014 on the Mountaintop Ranger District as a new project under the Public Use and Enjoyment functional area. As constructed, the trail is a non-motorized, multi-use trail within the bounds of the Skyline Fuel break located along the ridge south of Big Bear Valley.

The purpose and need for the trail was to separate motorized from non-motorized traffic on FS Rd #2N10 in order to increase safety for all users. FS Rd #2N10 is a popular, meandering, unpaved road that is frequently traveled by people driving vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles. The combination of mixed use and relatively high number of users had resulted in several near collisions, as well as documented accidents between vehicles and non-motorized users. Because of the safety concerns, the project was highly supported by the local public.

The trail was also constructed to decrease the use of non-system trails in the vicinity of the Skyline Fuel break and closed and restored intersecting non-system trails to their natural condition and that pose risks to Forest resources and/or hazards to Forest visitors. The trail was constructed in FY 2013 by Urban Conservation crews and volunteers. Trail alignment and design was done by the Forest Service. The project also implemented operational controls well as Forest Service personnel were largely present during construction as were biology and botany monitors.

Conclusions: The Skyline Trail Construction Project is consistent with Forest Goal 3. 1 by managing recreation in a natural setting. It also implements LMP Strategy Trans 1 – Transportation Management by constructing and maintaining the trail network to levels commensurate with area objectives, sustainable resource conditions, and the type and level of use.

Recommendations: This project was well designed and implemented and met the purpose and need for the project.

This is a project that was largely managed by the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation. It should be noted that trail design and alignment was assisted greatly by efforts from IMBA, Bellfree Contractors, and the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation.
[/expand]

[expand title=”Fiscal Year 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation Report” rel=”submenu-highlander”]

Fiscal Year 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation Report

Will be available October of 2015.
[/expand]

 

PLEASE NOTE: Much of the above has been directly copied from referenced sources publicly available on the internet. Subjective opinion and interpretation can be found in color-hilited text boxes.