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Wildfires Affect Local Parks in Many Ways

Published November 12, 2007

LAKE FOREST, CA (BRAIN)—As a result of the recent Southern California wildfires, many parks popular to mountain bikers suffered extensive damage like Orange County's Whiting Ranch.

Whiting Ranch hasn't reopened yet.

IMBA's California state rep for the southern region Daniel Greenstadt said two main issues arise when you consider letting people back into these scorched parks.

One being that the burned area now becomes one huge trail, where bikers and hikers can go off in any direction they choose. Might sound like a mountain biker’s dream, but it can be a land manager’s nightmare.

“This is a big problem for land managers who may already be struggling to keep trail users on designated trails,” Greenstadt said. “Although mountain bikers may already be the most ‘on trail’ user group—because of their dependence on the trail tread—all trail users have to resist the temptation to travel off of designated trails.”

The public’s safety also has to be weighed heavily before any park reopens. “Bicyclists tend to be a fairly hardy bunch who are accustomed to being self-reliant in the backcountry and would not be particularly bothered by a temporary lack of facilities or the need to work around a few obstacles,” Greenstadt said. “Unfortunately, land managers have to base access decisions on all the user groups they serve so they are often reluctant to open trails until they are confident that it won't cause more headaches than it resolves.”

For more on how these wildfires affected Southern California parks, check out the December issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

-Jason Norman

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