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California State Parks Maintains Bike Access Regulation; What Next?

California State Parks has announced that it is maintaining a regulation that all natural-surface trails—by default—are open to pedestrians and closed to all other users, unless mountain bike use is specifically indicated as allowed. This is a final “rule” now published in the California Code of Regulations, and will not be altered anytime soon.

Since 1988, California State Parks has operated under a similar policy stating that trails are closed to bikes unless "specifically opened." Local state park units have generally failed to "specifically open" trails to bikes, which is why IMBA and many of our regional constituents were involved in every step of the process to alter the policy.

This past April, IMBA led a comment campaign to change the policy, and proposed language that would open state parks to all non-motorized users unless otherwise specified, but we unfortunately did not succeed in programmatic change.

The final rule clarifies that all uses will remain the same unless they are changed by an order of a State Parks District Superintendent. Rather than filing an appeal, IMBA will focus its efforts on improving mountain biking experiences in California State Parks by continuing to work at a local level.

By building partnerships with individual parks and districts, IMBA intends to demonstrate that mountain biking in California State Parks is a benefit to the community from the perspectives of economic benefits, preservation of natural resources and opportunities to improve health.

There are a total of 18 California State Park District Offices. That means we, as mountain bikers, have 18 different opportunities to work at a local level to help each District Superintendent understand why mountain biking is important to the CA State Parks system and how it helps California’s Parks Forward Initiative.

If you are interested in organizing with IMBA to engage District Superintendents starting in early 2015, we ask you to please do the following:

1.) Identify a member of your IMBA chapter to be the project lead.

2.) Contact your IMBA Region Director: laurel [dot] harkness [at] imba [dot] com (Laurel Harkness) (NorCal) | patrick [dot] kell [at] imba [dot] com (Patrick Kell) (Southern Calif.)

3.) Begin to inventory your local state parks trails. Start with existing trail experiences and documenting both the route and experience using MTB Project. Also, outline new trail experiences that are missing from the region.

We need your commitment and participation on the ground level to take our work to the next level. Together we can achieve better results in our efforts to show that mountain biking belongs in California State Parks.

We look forward to working with you in 2015. Thank you!