As I approach my first anniversary as Big Bear’s Non-Motorized Trails Coordinator, I want to- share that I have been truly amazed and humbled by the amount of participation, in all forms and capacities, of all those who have engaged themselves in helping to improve and shape Big Bear’s trail system. We have such a strong community of trail users, both locally and regionally, that understand that these are our mountains and our trails and have stepped up to be their stewards. If you are reading this, thank you for your commitment to making an impact.

It’s been a busy and productive year….read on to see what’s been going on with the Trails Advisory Group, Adopt-A-Trail Program, Sign Plans, Alpine Pedal Path, New Trails Plan, partnerships with the Southern California Mountains Foundation and Urban Conservation Corps, National Trails Day and Mountaintop Trail Rally.

Trails Advisory Group

Can you feel it? There’s a massive amount of momentum across our valley right now for all-things-trails. This is in large part due to the Trails Advisory Group (TAG), comprised of the City of Big Bear Lake, County of San Bernardino, Big Bear Mountain Resort, Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation, Southern California Mountains Foundation (SCMF), and the Forest Service. A monthly meeting ensures  all of our members are unified and coordinated in our approach to developing the valley’s non-motorized trail-system (on dirt and pavement). As evidenced by our plans and events we can assure you it’s working!

Trail Management Plans

Speaking of plans, as your Trails Coordinator I have been hard at work with the Forest Service in creating Trail Management Plans for each trail in our system. These provide an official, sanctioned scope of work for us to go out and improve our trails. Each plan is passed through the Forest Service’s Recreation Department, Biologist, and Botanist so we can move forward with their blessing knowing that the forest is being well served, while meeting the needs of all trail users. These plans have been presented to the Forest Service, but there’s still time to update them. So if you have any useful information about what a specific trail needs, email trails@mountainsfoundation.org.

Adopt-A-Trail Program

With the full backing of the Trails Advisory Group the Adopt-A-Trail program has grown leaps and bounds since it began in 2014. Of the initial 59 sections of trail available for adoption, 78% have received volunteer labor and 36% have received financial backing, with many groups becoming full adopters by providing both labor and financial support! This dedication resulted in over 30 trail work events with more to come. Want to be a part of this successful endeavor? Click here for more information on how to get involved!

 

South Shore Sign Plan

If you haven’t seen these yet, it’s time you hit the trails! Years in the making, the SCMF Sign Plan has been brought to fruition. Starting on the South Shore, with plans to spread throughout the valley, this project brings 9 new Trailhead signs, 7 medium sized Directional signs, and 46 double sided small Directional signs that serve to guide trail users in the forest in real time. Bonus: the smaller Directional signs give us an unbeatable way to recognize Adopt-A-Trail Adopters in the forest and give the program and Adopters the recognition they deserve. To top it off, the City of Big Bear Lake has adopted this sign plan and we are working to bring these same signs within the city limits so that visitors will be guided by the same signs across multiple jurisdictions, from city to forest. The first trailhead was installed on the cities new happy hills trail, so stop by and check out this new addition to the city’s trail system.  Next we will we working with the city and the forest to bring these signs to the Alpine Pedal Path this season. Do you know of a group/organization that wants to increase their brand recognition and bolster their reputation by adopting a trail and getting their logo on a sign? Let us know at trails@mountainsfoundation.org!

 

Alpine Pedal Path

Big Bear’s most used trail has received a major facelift. Phase 1 of the restoration project, from Serrano Campground to its east terminus, is days away from completion. The path has been widened, re-paved, received a stripe down the center for traffic control, and new fencing has been installed. Not long ago we received the good news that Phase 2 has been approved at the City of Big Bear Lake, which will give the trail the same treatment as Phase 1, but all the way to its west terminus. If you’ve noticed, the interpretive signs on this path are in need of help, and thanks to the productive partnership between SCMF, The City of Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Cycling Association, and the Forest Service, 7 interpretive signs and 5 trailhead/directional signs are being completed to be installed throughout the path by the end of this year. Additionally, we are looking for partners to help replace benches and install new ones to give the entire path the facelift it deserves. The Alpine Pedal Path has always been a much loved route and now has even more to offer.

 

New Trails Plan

Following months of research and meetings with multiple trail stakeholders in the valley, a New Trails Plan has been created. It was first presented to the public during two open houses at the Big Bear Discovery center where we had approximately 120 people show up to review and comment. Big thanks to all of those who participated. Next, we took that feedback from the public and made adjustments when and where necessary, looking at all the angles. Most recently we formally presented that plan to the Forest Service who expressed their gratitude and look forward to helping us introduce this as a formal USFS proposal. This is a multi-faceted and multi-year project; when fully realized, it will give the valley an expanded trail system, with trails that leave from logical trailheads and neighborhoods, connect with other trails, and allow for multiple users in a non-motorized environment. Stay tuned!

BBVTF & SCMF Partnership

Our partnership with the Southern California Mountains Foundation (SCMF) is stronger than ever. Partnerships really make things possible in the Big Bear Valley. The growth and momentum around all things trails would not be possible without the strong partnership between the entire TAG and specifically the two nonprofits taking a leadership role in trail management; the Southern California Mountains Foundation and the Bear Valley Trails Foundation.  To keep all of these numerous projects moving forward, as the Trails Coordinator, I regularly meet with SCMF & BBVTF staff to combine efforts and resources, to ensure our trails are managed properly and the Adopt-A-Trail Program flourishes. Together we raise funds to provide you with the tools, resources, and information to help Big Bear’s trails. Together we are making tremendous strides!

 

SCMF’s Urban Conservation Corps

Have you seen these hard hats at work in Big Bear’s South Shore? Through our collaborative effort we are getting boots on the trails. The corpsmembers you’ve seen working on out on the trails are from one of SCMF’s 6 programs, the Urban Conservation Corps of the Inland Empire (UCCIE).  The UCCIE is made up from young men and women ages 18-25 from diverse backgrounds.  This workforce development program give individuals an opportunity to become employable citizens through hard work in environmental conservation projects throughout Southern California.  They have been working in the south shore trail network for the past 4 seasons and will be able to assist with projects for the next year through a recreational trails program grant with the State of California. A perfect example of what this partnership and support means for the Adopt-A-Trail program is recently we had Trails Boss, Bryan Furbee lead 16 corps members to maintain the popular Lower Plumber’s section of Skyline where they made 4 worn down corners look like new (pictured above). Next time you seem them, say hi and thank them if you have a moment.

 

National Trails Day 2017

On June 3rd we held our most successful National Trails Day event to date. Over 90 volunteers came from all across Southern California to help give Cabin 89 trail some serious love, and by love we mean a major realignment that required a lot of hard work. While striving to keep the character of the trail intact, a short “fall line” section of the trail (where the grade of the trail equalled the sideslope of the mountain) was realigned to a far more user friendly and sustainable condition. Doing so facilitates more bidirectional use of the trail, loop opportunities with the Pine Knot Trail, and actually improves erosion control to the watershed. This event showed the Forest Service we mean business when it comes to taking care of our trails. We appreciate all those who came out to work with us, eat with us, and laugh with us.

 

Mountaintop Trail Rally

Our first annual Mountaintop Trail Rally on July 30 at Snow Summit was a success! Over one hundred participants came out to support Big Bear’s Non-Motorized Trail system, rally the community, and have a downright good time. With all the support we received from our sponsors and participants, MTR generated over $8,000! Every penny of which goes straight into maintaining, improving, and developing the trails in Big Bear Valley. A big thanks to all who participated! We simply could not have done it without our outstanding partners Team Big Bear, Snow Summit, the City of Big Bear Lake, as well as our co-sponsors Bike for Bender, Girlz Gone Riding, Kodiak Kids Youth Running Series, Sierra Club, and the Big Bear Cycling Association. We hope to see you again in 2018!

 

Finally

Last but not least I want to recognize how fortunate I am to have Stacy Gorin, SCMF’s Executive Director, and Driz Cook, Chair of the Trails Foundation, united with me as we work to improve our trails. The three of us meet at least once a week and communicate daily to ensure we are united, coordinated, resourced, and moving forward together with the programs and initiatives highlighted above. Together with all of our volunteers and Board members we make a formidable team!

See you out there,

Bennett Rossell
864-884-6813
brossell@mountainsfoundation.org