Over the past 18 months, IMBA has been working in Idyllwild, Calif., with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and IMBA's chapter there, Idyllwild Cycling, regarding May Valley, a popular recreation area accessible through the Hurkey Creek Campground. Funding was secured last year for the NEPA (environmental assessment) process via Riverside County and, as a result, we had an IMBA Mapping Specialist visit Idyllwild in December 2012 to work on mapping the inventory of the existing trails.
In May 2013, IMBA held the Southern California Mountain Bike Summit (photos above and below) in Idyllwild, with advocates and land managers from all across southern California coming for a weekend of workshops presented by IMBA staff on trail planning, addressing Wilderness proposals, developing urban bike parks and discussing fundraising strategies. Attendees loved Idyllwild, from the trails to the food to the vibe in town. I got great feedback about the event, with most vowing to return to ride and hang out in the future.
Then, in July 2013, the area was ravaged by a huge wildfire that burned through some 43 square miles of lands administered by the San Bernardino National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, State of California, and private landowners around town and across the San Jacinto Mountains. The fire obviously put our work on hold, given that our partners at the USFS were dealing with the unimaginable resource impacts of such a devastating event. In October, just as we were about to re-open the conversation with the USFS on May Valley, the federal government shut down.
Now that the shutdown is over and the USFS has a better understanding of the impacts of the fire, we recently had a meeting to discuss how to move forward. The meeting was very productive, the USFS staff thanked us for our patience during this situation (we were happy to be patient!), and we now have a clearer picture of how and when we will move forward.
For the immediate future, the Emergency Closure Order that encompasses the May Valley area is being reviewed and evaluated for possible adjustments. For the longer term, the USFS has pledged to complete the NEPA process by September 30, 2014. That process will include input from interested parties, including but not limited to the Idyllwild Cycling membership and local trail advocates, along with design suggestions from IMBA Trail Solutions, which will field a staffer in the area during 2014 to redesign some of the trails.
We thank everyone for their patience over the past several months, and are pleased to now see a path forward and a timeframe for getting back to work in May Valley.