I just sent off this email to firstname.lastname@example.org after receiving an email from Michael Mejia, the president of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, in regards to the meeting regarding fair fees at China Camp State Park. Mountain Bikers are currently being asked to pay $3.00 to ride a park that used to be free. It’s a state park, so we’re effectively paying there to ride a second time in order to “keep it open”. If you feel similarly about the situation, I would recommend you do the same. The additional content in my email came from what the BTCEB provided and also sent.
Dear China Camp Friends and Supporters,
I stand with the BTCEB regarding the fee structure at China Camp.
First off, I think it is ridiculous that I have to pay a fee to ride at a State Park because the State can’t manage my tax dollars properly. Basically I have to pay twice to ride there. I already have a problem with this— it really isn’t ok.
Second, the idea that I have to pay more than a hiker is ridiculous. I’ve personally already done at least 8 full days of volunteer trail work this year at Camp Tamarancho and Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park. I’d rather be out riding my bike, but instead I’ve worked on trails, and managed trail crews. I ride mountain bikes, and I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of hikers doing volunteer trail work. Mostly is just other mountain bikers. (The exception being the folks that volunteer with V-O-Cal)
At the moment, I have minimized the number of visits I’ve made to China Camp this year, and to date I have refused to pay the fee based on the biased fee structure. Please note that I purchase a year round pass at Camp Tamarancho, and have done so for 4 years.
And lastly, why should I pay more as a mountain biker when there are no plans to create a better user experience for mountain biking at China Camp? If FOCC had plans to create a more advanced trail loop option, (see IMBA’s Stacked Loop Model Trail Options for example) this would be a completely different matter. I’d rather ride the unmarked trails at China Camp anyway, they’re more challenging and fun to ride than the trails my dollars would go towards.
On top of that, the idea of contributing money towards the salary of an individual that would potentially be decommissioning the trails I actually do enjoy riding isn’t acceptable either.
As is, paying additional monies because I “use more of the park” is not acceptable to me and I will encourage my friends and followers to do the same.
Jason Van Horn
$2 vs.$3 Fee Structure is unfair to a poorly engaged Mtb community.
1. The Fee Structure is not supported by State Parks Policy. Tom Ward of IMBA (40+ years of working for the State and its parks) has never heard of such a rate structure. Different fees are designated, however, where additional infrastructure is utilized; horse parking, oversized vehicle parking, boat ramp, parking, and campsites. For many years “policy” has been used to restrict mtb access. Let’s have policy work for mtb this time.
2. A State Park serves ALL. As a State Park China Camp must consider not just proximate neighbors but all the users who come from miles around to this destination. China Camp is and has been a destination for mountain bikers from throughout the Bay Area for 25 years.
3. The amount of the Park used does not justify staggered rates. By that logic, trail runners and folks who hike all day should pay more. If they walk slow and use less ground do they get to pay less? Nowhere in State Parks, the East Bay Regional Park District, or Mid-Peninsula does this exist.
4. Mountain Bikers are harder on trails: misunderstood erosion. This myth has been used for years to restrict access by those who don’t want us on the trails. Objective information, independent of conflicting human desires, overwhelmingly does not support the prohibition or restriction of mountain biking from a resource or environmental protection perspective. IMBA, the National Trails Training Partnership, even a quick Google search turns up piles of studies concluding that mountain biking caused no more erosional damage to trails than hikers. Existing impacts, which may be in evidence on many trails used by mountain bikers, are more likely associated with poor trail designs or insufficient maintenance.
5. Mountain Bikers are harder on trails: sheer numbers. Trails do wear out and each trail user-type leaves a unique mark and so we are more noticeable. In the last decades the Park staff has had to deal with 2 El Ninos in the 90s, Sudden Oak Death for several years, and major Eucalyptus removal. Other than some repairs on Echo and the occasional removal of debris and hazards a few trails (Oakridge, Backranch, and nearby Bayview, long hazardous and neglected) were “swecoed” and the Ridge Trail rerouted the all-important trail work of the maintenance type over a 15-year period has been deferred. A modest 350 mtb uses per week over a 10-year period makes 182,000 trips through the park. How are compacted fall-line trails in a dozen soil types on a bayside water table going to look like without some TLC?
Why support mtb?
1. Mtb, the largest user group, is also your largest asset. This has been a Bay Area Mecca for mtb for 25 years creating the largest user of this park by a huge factor of 2 or 3 to 1. BTCEB-sponsored NorCal Teams and other League teams who bring 15-20-25 at a time on Saturday year-around join thousands of mtb’ers. Including numerous other group rides from schools, scouts, bike’s groups, kid’s groups, camp groups, and new riders seeking the China Camp experience, San Pedro Road is a veritable conga–line for parking.
2. Mtb’ers are the best trails building and maintenance asset around.Northern California trails building and maintenance crews are highly populated by mountain bikers. A metaphore for their developing culture as they create their space in the general community, mtb’ers have developed the model of trails that work and feel, first hand, the effect of design and execution.
3. Fees for supporting a venue is not new to mountain bikers. Since the early 1990s mountain bikers have voted with their wallets to support Camp Tamarancho by paying an annual fee and being the workforce for their trails building and maintenance. While the trail system there is uniquely entertaining, support from the mtb community is largely a response to a belief that the folks who run Tamarancho support mountain bikers, value their trails expertise, and are concerned for their experience.
4. We bring money to San Rafael and spread the renown of China Camp. The mountain biking community broadcasts positive PR values for China Camp, attracting visitors from far-and-wide, bringing significant dollars to local restaurants, gas stations, bike shops, and pubs.
It is probably worth noting that the photo at the top of this post, while near China Camp, is not technically part of the State Park. Thanks to my buddy Ranbir for snapping it on my phone.