Has anybody else noticed the proliferation of mountain bike trails
in the greenbelt surrounding Laguna Beach? It is my understanding that
“bootleg” biking trails are not allowed. This is clearly not the reality.
On a recent walk from Alta Laguna it was easy to see multiple paths
criss-crossing and eating up our hard earned wilderness parks. There is
hardly a side ridge dropping into Laguna Canyon from the main ridge that
does not have a trail carved down it. Their are multiple problems with
this, among them: degradation of habitat, erosion, trespassing of
private property in the canyon and safety. Many riders do not give the
right of way to hikers. I am vigilantly alert for my own safety whenever
hiking and am unable to include my young daughter on walks in many
areas. In spite of my attempts to get out of the way I have occasionally
been yelled at for being in the way.
I found a large deer lay down area by chance when looking at a new
trail branching off of a section of a named trail in the Aliso Woods
Canyon Park. I doubt it will remain a day-time area for deer to rest in
if the trail becomes more established. Back over near the Alta Laguna
water tank someone brought in a shovel to “improve the trail”, cutting
out bushes and creating a jumping ramp. This in a small island of plants
in an area already denuded of vegetation to a width of over 30 feet.
At a time when many, including myself, are hoping to preserve some
of the unbuilt “inner greenbelt”, it behooves us to take a look at what
is happening to the lands many fought so hard to preserve and discuss
what if anything needs to be done. These lands have been saved primarily
to be a wilderness area, which we enter to enjoy for its own sake. To see
what the whole region was like before development and to hold up as an
example and say “we bought this because it is rare and vanishing and we
want to pass it along to the future”. It was preserved for all,
especially for wildlife, and not preserved solely for mountain bikes.
Clearly, the openness of these parks and the divided nature of
their management is being taken advantage of. It appears we need to
safeguard what many believe we have already saved.
John Walker, Laguna Beach