The School Trails project had an Open House scheduled for the public on March 17th, 2020. Due to the corona virus situation, the open house was cancelled.

Information on this project is now being presented online here, with an opportunity to comment using the CONTACT FORM at the bottom of this web page.

BVUSD Education Foundation: School Trails

Note: the working name for this project has been School Trails. The official name of the trail system is being changed to Maple Hill Trails.

PROJECT DOCUMENT 3rd Revision: March 2020

Project Overview

In 2018, RCK Properties donated 213 acres of forested land to the Bear Valley Unified School District. The District has transferred title to the BVUSD Education Foundation.

After discussions with stakeholders, it has been proposed to utilize much of the land for a network of community trails. These trails will provide opportunities for high school cross country runners and bike team members to train, as well as outdoor, place-based science learning and experiential education prospects for both elementary and high school students. Additionally, the trails will provide necessary connectivity between local neighborhoods and schools, providing alternatives to traveling along busy city streets. Finally, the trails will afford to the community easy and convenient access to outdoor recreational opportunities close to where they live.

Project Team and Partners

Currently, the project team consists of:

Steve Foulkes: BVUSD Education Foundation, Bear Valley Unified School District
Chris Barnes: Big Bear Cycling, Big Bear Trails Group
Driz Cook: Big Bear Trails Group

Partners include:

Bear Valley Unified School District
United States Forest Service, Mountaintop Ranger District
City of Big Bear Lake, CA
County of San Bernardino, CA
Snow Summit Resorts
Southern California Mountains Foundation

Location

The project area, noted as Education Foundation on the figure, is located directly west of Big Bear High School in Sugarloaf CA, 92386, directly south of Baldwin Lane Elementary in Sugarloaf CA, 92386, and north of Big Bear Boulevard in Big Bear City, CA 92314.

Existing Condition of Project Area

Environmental Landscape

Topography

The project area is largely full of moderate to steeply sloped hills, with few flat areas on the property. There are no significant rock outcroppings or rock fields on the property. There are no meadows or other notable geographical features on the property.

Water

There are no standing water or riparian areas on the property. All water flows are ephemeral, running only during heavy rain or rapid snowmelt.

Wildlife

Wildlife on the property is consistent with what is seen in the general region of the Big Bear Valley. During general field reconnaissance, there have been no significant observations of wildlife on the property. Due to the limited water availability and lack of rock features, the property does not appear to support habitats for special status species such as the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Southern Rubber Boa, and Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog.

Plants

The majority of the parcel is covered in sagebrush, Jeffrey, Pinion, and Juniper pines.

A botanical survey was conducted in the summer of 2019 for the purposes of understanding the potential impact of a trail system on the property. [1] The lead trail designer was present during the observations. Identified plant populations were noted as “widely scattered”, and it is believed that prudent trail design can avoid any botanical areas of concern.

Summarized from the introduction of the survey report, the proposed trail region is inhabited by Great Basin sagebrush scrub and Pinyon-juniper woodland plant communities. The trees in proposed project area are Pinyon pine and Jeffrey pine. These woodland species are interspersed with shrub land habitat with dominant species such as Flannel bush, Great Basin sagebrush, Flat-top buckwheat, and Curl-leaf mountain mahogany.

[1] https://drive.google.com/open?id=1zoohK2M8NbaNIZ5t4V9zeWXBwNSr6eF4

Dixie Lee Pebble Plain

On the southwestern side of the project area is a sensitive pebble plain known as Dixie Lee (the access road to the south is named Dixie Lee Lane). Originally part of the parcel, this pebble plain has been reserved by the land donator, RCK Properties, to use as a mitigation in development projects.

While not part of the project area, it is important to note that the Dixie Lee Pebble Plain is an important biological area for the Big Bear Valley and public access will need to be considered. Eventually this land will most likely be donated to a non-profit who will be responsible for its caretaking. Currently this area has an intermittent fence around it and several hiking trails through the area. It is signed as part of the Pebble Plains Ecological Reserve (discussed later in this document).

Public Uses

The project area has historically been designated and marked as private property, with barbed wire type fences erected in some areas to prevent public access. Despite this, there is indication that the public has used the property in several different manners:

Airport Signal Tower

The Big Bear Airport District has a small parcel of land on one of the highest points of the project area, accessed by dirt roads near Baldwin Lane elementary. This parcel is completely within the acreage of the project area. There is an utility and access easement from the north side of the property but historically maintenance access has been through Baldwin Lane. It is assumed that access to the airport tower from Baldwin Lane will remain in perpetuity despite changes in ownership. Access by airport personnel is limited and infrequent.

Motorized Vehicle Use

On the south side of the project area is a dirt road that is currently not protected by a fence or gate, and is not currently signed as private property. This road accesses the airport signal tower, and has also allowed the public access to the property using stock vehicles as well as off-road vehicles. Over time multiple vehicle routes have been created on the flatter sections of the property. There is indication that OHV’s (off highway vehicles) such as motorcycles and quads have used these roads to access other parts of the property.

Hiking / Mountain Biking Trails

There are several user-created routes throughout the property that appear to be used primarily as a means to connect Big Bear City neighborhoods with Sugarloaf neighborhoods, Big Bear High School, and Baldwin Lane Elementary. The use of these routes appears to be infrequent, generally following a straight-line approach to trail design (the most direct route between two points is a straight line, regardless of slope angle). There is no signage for these routes.

Trash Dumping, Homeless Camps

Scattered throughout the property, more often closer to roads, are indications of trash dumping and overnight camps. All the homeless camps noted in initial explorations of the project area appear to be old and are not currently being used.

Snow Play

The northern part of the project area directly abuts Big Bear Boulevard. In the winter, this north facing slope sees occasional unpermitted snow play use including sledding and general snow play. Trash left behind is an issue. Currently the snow play use is limited due to the fencing and private property signs.

Neighbors and Relevant Projects

Big Bear Valley

The Big Bear Valley, as defined in this proposal, is a collection of communities roughly 16.5 square miles in size, and was analyzed thoroughly in the 2013 Big Bear Valley Pedestrian, Bicycle and Equestrian Master Plan [1] (BBV Master Plan). The Big Bear Valley is completely surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, and the Big Bear Valley Community Wildfire Plan estimates this Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area to be 266 square miles. [2]

The Big Bear Valley is an important area for non-motorized trail recreation users on the Mountaintop Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest. The United States Forest Service acknowledges that The Big Bear Place, as defined in the 2006 Land Management Plan [3] is “the premier mountain lake resort destination in southern California. Visitors and residents of Big Bear Place heavily use this landscape of urban development and surrounding public lands”.

Big Bear Valley Pedestrian, Bicycle and Equestrian Master Plan

In February of 2014, the City of Big Bear Lake and San Bernardino County finished the Big Bear Valley Pedestrian, Bicycle and Equestrian Master Plan, a comprehensive planning document for trails in and around the Big Bear Valley. This plan included extensive public scoping and planning efforts. [4]

Big Bear Area Non-Motorized Trail and Watershed Restoration Plan

In July of 2017, the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation, working in collaboration with the Southern California Mountains Foundation, the City of Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino County, and Big Bear Mountain Resorts, concluded a year-long public trail planning process specific to the Big Bear Valley area of the Mountaintop Ranger District. This planning process was done in partnership with the District Ranger of the Mountaintop Ranger District. This planning process included extensive public scoping and planning efforts related to non-motorized recreational trails in the valley.[5]

Schools, Parks, Fire Station

Directly adjoining the project area land are two schools – Big Bear High School and Baldwin Lane Elementary School. Within a ¼ mile of these schools lies Sugarloaf Park, a 6 acre facility that is heavily used by the surrounding community. [6]

There is also a Fire Station next to the Sugarloaf Park and across the street from school district land.[7]

[1] https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-oNXkvrdfkadUY1dEdCTXV2cXM
[2] http://www.sbcounty.gov/calmast/pdf/cwpp/CWPP_Big_Bear_Valley.pdf
[3] https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev7_007719.pdf
[4] https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-oNXkvrdfkadUY1dEdCTXV2cXM
[5] https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-oNXkvrdfkadUY1dEdCTXV2cXM
[6] http://www.bigbearparks.com/Parks_%26_Facilities/Pages/Sugarloaf_Park.html
[7] http://www.bigbearfire.com/about-us/stations

Pebble Plains Ecological Reserve – Moonridge

Overview

The Pebble Plains area is a 700 acre land area owned by both the San Bernardino Mountain Land Trust (SBMLT) and the United States Forest Service (USFS). This reserve directly borders the project area.

From the SBMLT website: “Using funds acquired from county, state, federal agencies and private donors; we (SBMLT) move quickly to purchase critical open spaces as opportunities arise to acquire, restore and preserve the San Bernardino Mountains precious natural legacy.” [1]

The Reserve consists of three distinct parts in two separate ownerships totaling approx. 708 acres. The central piece is a 302.5-acre San Bernardino National Forest parcel that serves as the core of the reserve. To the south is a 166.1-acre portion owned by the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust which was previously known as the remainder parcel of the 250-acre High Timber Ranch subdivision. To the north and east of the L-shaped National Forest parcel is a 239.8-acre section known as the Sawmill Canyon Property, which is also owned by the Land Trust. A very narrow parcel at the southeast corner of the Reserve is the one direct connection between the Reserve and continuous National Forest Lands.

The Pebble Plains area has been the focus of a management group since 2013. The primary purpose of the group has been to draft and implement a management plan for the 700 acres of combined land between the USFS and the SBMLT. The committee remains in place today and meets on a monthly basis.

This undeveloped forested land with primitive hiking trails is surrounded by a heavily populated area of both permanent houses, second home owners, and vacation rentals. It has seen abuse by illegal dumping, ATV use, tree cutting, and has a large network of user-created routes. Additionally, there are sensitive environmental areas located here – the Pebble Plains.

Significant strides have been made in the last five years to discourage illegal dumping, tree cutting, and off-road vehicle use. This has primarily been accomplished by destroying old roadways, installing large portions of heavy-duty post and cable fence, and displaying private property “Reserve” signage. The SBMLT has worked with neighbors in the area to recruit them as volunteers and assist with monitoring.

Community Access and Trails

Currently, the private property sections of the Pebble Plains Reserve (owned by the SBMLT) offer several miles of hiking trails. The majority of these trails were built by SBMLT volunteers. The USFS land between the two SBMLT parcels has several user-created trails that are used in conjunction with the signed Pebble Plains Reserve trails.

Based upon discussions in committee meetings, the SBMLT leans towards protection and conservation of the Pebble Plains Reserve rather than community access and recreation. The trail system was designed and built by SBMLT volunteers with limited interaction from the management group. The trails are primitive routes with minimal signage. The signed permitted use is hiking only; this has caused conflict as mountain bikers historically have used this property for access between Big Bear City and Moonridge.

There are three primary trailheads for the Pebble Plains Area; on the south at the intersection of Klamath and Needle Lanes, on the north at the end of Rose Hill Drive, and on the east at the intersection of Bear Hollow and Needle Lane. All three trailheads have limited parking (3-5 vehicles) and an information kiosk with the following map displayed.

[1] https://sbmlt.net/about-us/

United States Forest Service (USFS)

The USFS owns 200 acres of land southwest of the project area. This land is bordered on the north and south by SBMLT land and on the east and west by private property. There are currently no public access points to the USFS land except through SBMLT land. Two sensitive areas occur on this land – the Sawmill Pebble Plain and the Horseshoe Pebble Plain. Both of these areas have user-created trails near them, however there are no official USFS system trails on this parcel of land.

There is an ongoing discussion between the Big Bear Trails Group and the USFS to formalize trails on this parcel of land. One proposed trail is the Sawmill Connector, a trail loosely based upon the location of forest road 2N05 and using existing easements. This trail would provide connectivity between Big Bear City, Moonridge, and the portion of the San Bernardino National Forest that completely surrounds the Big Bear Valley. The Sawmill Connector would allow for all permitted USFS uses, including hiking, equestrian, and mountain biking.

Project Goals

It is recommended that the School Trails project be designated as non-motorized and stay consistent with the regulations of our neighbor the United States Forest Service. The School Trails project goals are to design and construct a trail system that provides for the following:

High School Cross Country Team

Big Bear High School has a school sponsored cross country racing team. The School Trails project would provide 8+miles of trail suitable for running directly adjacent to the High School. These trails can be used for both cross country practice and racing.

Currently, the primary practice trail running area in Big Bear is located on the South Shore, part of the National Forest near the ski resort Snow Summit. These are system trails built and maintained in partnership with the USFS. For Big Bear High School runners, this means that practices often take place away from the High School, necessitating parent/student driving and coordination. When practices take place at the High School, they often involve students running on nearby city streets and occasionally crossing Highway 38.

Providing a practice area at the high school reduces transportation logistics, thereby providing an easier barrier of entry for students. Providing a practice area that takes place off city streets reduces safety risks for students.

Cross country race courses are generally 5km (3.1 miles) long. The School Trails project would provide two separate loops of approximately 3.1 miles in length, allowing for both focused team practice and the potential to host high altitude regional cross country races.

Big Bear Mountain Bike Team

Big Bear High School has a club called the Big Bear Mountain Bike Team. This team trains for and participates in the SoCal High School Cycling League as part of NICA (the National Interscholastic Cycling Association). [1] The School Trails project would provide 8+ miles of trail suitable for mountain bike use directly adjacent to the high school.

Currently, practices rarely start at the High School due to limited trail opportunities. Transportation is a requirement to locations around the Big Bear Valley that have good trails. Additionally, the Big Bear Valley does not have many beginner mountain bike trails, and high school mountain bike teams often bring beginners into the sport.

The School Trails project would provide a practice area that reduces the need for transportation logistics, lowering the barrier of entry to this sport. The School Trails project would also provide trails that are not rocky or steep (average grade less than 8%), suitable for beginners new to the sport.

[1] https://www.nationalmtb.org/

Student Access to Nature / Outdoor Education

This proposed trail system provides instant forest access on safe routes for students of Baldwin Lane Elementary and Big Bear High School. Opportunity for many experiential education opportunities exist, including observation and research on the Pebble Plains.

Student Access to Trails on Public Lands

The proposed School Trails system provides direct access to existing trail infrastructure on the Pebble Plains Ecological Reserve and proposed trails on USFS property.

The opportunities for both the high school cross country race team and mountain bike team are increased as more links to public trails are enabled.

Connectivity Between Schools & Neighborhoods

Students traveling by foot or bike between Big Bear City and Sugarloaf currently have to travel on Highway 38 and Maple Lane. Both of these routes are heavily traveled. Additionally, Maple Lane is a steep grade, making it difficult for students to ride bikes up the hill.

The School Trails project will provide a safe route, via a dirt sidewalk, for students to use for travel between Big Bear City and Sugarloaf. Additionally, the general public will benefit from this safe route as well. Dirt sidewalks encourage connectivity without using city streets or motor vehicles.

The School Trails project will also provide connectivity between Sugarloaf, Moonridge, and Big Bear Lake via the Sawmill Connector Trail.

Community Outdoor Recreational Opportunities

The Education Foundation land is an island of forested land in the middle of the Big Bear Valley. It is surrounded by Sugarloaf and Big Bear City, two of the most densely populated full-time residential areas in the area.

The School Trails project provides the public with a planned and signed forested park right next door to their neighborhood. Opportunities for the public include short, medium and long routes that allow hiking, running, biking, horseback riding, dog walking, experiencing nature, and more.

Proposed Trail Routes

Trail System Design Goals

This trail system does not provide one trail to a scenic view or landmark; it is, instead, a network of trails directly connected to a high-density area of the Big Bear community that provides opportunities for recreation and connection to our natural areas.

To accomplish this, it is proposed that this trail system consist of three different loop opportunities, joined together by connectors of different lengths. This concept utilizes much of the 213 acre parcel and attempts to design the maximum amount of trail possible without feeling duplicative, redundant, or restrictive. Providing more trail length allows users to spread out on the trail system, thereby reducing the potential for conflict and providing more opportunities to connect with nature.

Route Summary

General Trail Design Principles

The network of trails that has been proposed follows existing contours of the land and will utilize sustainable trail design practices that minimize erosion, encourage long-term sustainability, and provide opportunities for multiple non-motorized users. The design will also anticipate high traffic usage due to its location in the middle of residential areas

Trail design, building and environmental practices will be based upon standards established by partner organization United States Forest Service.[1] Trail construction will be by hand crews, hand tools, a small trail excavator (less than 15 hp), and the tread will use completely natural material.

Trail designation is a Class 3 with a target grade of 3% to 10%, based upon United States Forest Service standards.[2] Initial trail impact will be up to 4’ wide in places, with a finished product of 24” to 36” trail providing for good erosion and slope stability practices.

Low Grades

A focus will be to maintain a relatively low grade on these trails. Low grades are more suitable for runners and beginning mountain bikers. Low grades also reduce the downhill speed at which bikes can travel, reducing the potential for user-conflict and trail damage. Finally, low trail grades are generally more sustainable, as erosive water runoff speed is checked.

Grade Reversals

This concept encourages undulation in the trail surface, which provides gentle ups and downs along the trail routes. This allows for good water drainage off the trail, affords an interesting trail experience, gives brief rests for uphill travel, and slows down the speed of downhill traffic.

Good Sight Lines

Good sight lines, or the ability to see other users on the trail in time to be fully prepared, is an important factor in reducing user conflict. Sight lines are a consideration when there is brush, trees, or other visual impediments, and when the trail becomes twisty or steep. Good sight lines are also an important factor for controlling mountain bike speeds, as they allow users to see the trail ahead and anticipate changes ahead of time.

Discourage Trail Cutting

Trail cutting occurs when users venture off the designed trail and begin creating their own routes. This often happens when users believe a shorter and more direct route between trail legs is better (cutting switchbacks). Cutting can be minimized by reducing the number of switchbacks, ensuring that switchbacks incorporate natural obstacles into their path to discourage off trail travel, and maximizing the sight distance between different legs of a trail.

Incorporate Fun Features for Bikes

Mountain bikes are a prominent recreational force in the Big Bear Valley, and will be used on these trails. Fun features are incorporated into trail design to both make the trail fun and reduce the need for users to create their own features and alternative trail routes. Features, when implemented correctly, do not affect or inhibit use by other trail users. Features can include short rocky sections, rollers, and small jumps.

View Points and Pull Offs

Good design allows for the trail to naturally visit view points and interesting areas, reducing the need for users to create their own routes to these areas. Good design also allows generous areas for users to pull themselves off the trail at these interesting visual areas so that the general flow of traffic on the trail is not impeded.

[1] https://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/htmlpubs/htm07232806/toc.htm
[2] https://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/trail-management/documents/trailfundamentals/03-TrailDesignParaHandout_Sec508_01-24-17_150dpi.pdf

Trail Construction and Maintenance

Overview

Over the last ten years, the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation has led and been involved in several trail build projects, including the entirely of the 15 mile Skyline Trail, Fall Line, Cougar Crest Reroute, Cabin 89 Reroute, and Pine Knot Reroute. The build model that has been used to the  highest degree of success is a combination of skilled machine operators constructing the base of the trail with volunteers or paid crew members finishing the trail by hand.

Trail Building Steps

Design and Layout

Initial trail design is done by looking at detailed GPS data and laying out routes based upon topographical data. Field layout is done by a two person crew, using a clinometer to measure trail steepness and pin flags and ribbons to mark the trail route.

Rough Cut

The rough cut is done by clearing a corridor and building the trail base. First step in a rough cut is to use a chainsaw to clear the corridor of vegetation that can’t be removed by the machine.

After this a small trail excavator is used to construct the trail base. A rough cut is a good first pass of the trail, with the majority of dirt and rock moving completed. Progress and costs depend upon the difficulty of the terrain; steep grades with rocks are more difficult and more time consuming. Lesser grades and soft dirt allow for easier builds.

There may be certain topographical areas that require a rough cut to be completed by a hand crew. These may be areas that are biologically sensitive, too steep or too rocky.

Hand Finish

After the machine has finished the rough cut, crews come in with hand tools and finish the trail. This is done with hand tools like pick-mattocks, mcleods, pulaskis, and rakes. This work involves general clean up, raking the top slope down, sculpting the turns, smoothing out the bumps, and ensuring that drainages are set up correctly.

Trail Maintenance

The trails are designed and built at a low grade and to minimize erosion and damage by users. Based upon local experience with the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation, it is expected that a well-designed trail mile needs 10 hours or less of regular maintenance a year.

Trail maintenance can be accomplished through the local trails group’s Adopt-A-Trail program, utilizing volunteers throughout the community. It is hoped that the high school and the elementary school become the primary adopter of this trail system and work to maintain it in perpetuity.

Trail Building Costs

Much of this project can be accomplished with local, volunteer labor. It is suggested, however, that a budget be developed to cover all costs of project, including labor. This allows the property owner to understand the true project costs. Employees can be managed under partner organization Southern California Mountains Foundation; all payroll rates are subject to an additional 40% overhead fee to cover payroll taxes, insurance, etc.

Cost Estimates

Below are estimated costs for each segment of the School Trails project. Costs will vary dependent upon difficulty of terrain, volunteer availability, and other aspects. It is recommended that a 20% cost overrun contingency be factored into general totals.

Design and Layout

Two people working together can pin flag 1/2 mile of trail in 8 hours. $25 an hour, $35 an hour with payroll taxes. $70 an hour with payroll taxes. Approximately $0.21 per linear foot cost to pin flag the trail.

Rough Cut

Local rates for renting a mini-excavator are $2100 per month.[1] Conservative operator costs are $25 an hour, $35 an hour with payroll taxes. It is reasonable to assume a build of 1/10 mile per day. Difficult areas and switchbacks will reduce this time frame. Machine cost at $125 per day with fuel, $0.24 per linear foot. Single operator cost of $0.53 per linear foot. Rough cut cost estimated at $0.77 per linear foot.

Hand Finish

Three crew members at $25 an hour, $35 an hour with payroll taxes. Expected completion of 1/4 mile per day. Hand finish cost estimated at $0.64 per linear foot.

Hand Finish Volunteers

A successful strategy that has been used in the past is to have dedicated trail builders complete the trail design and rough cut, and then bring in volunteers to finish the trail by hand. This reduces the overall cost of the build, and allows substantial community investment and ownership in the trail.

Signage

Consistent trail signage throughout Big Bear Valley provides all users with a uniform method of understanding trail locations, directions, and rules regardless of which entity owns the property. Working with the Southern California Mountains Foundation, a trail sign standard had been developed in Big Bear Valley that is now being used by the USFS, the City of Big Bear Lake, and Snow Summit Resorts.

Signage costs are estimated at $1,000 per mile of trail. This covers the cost of trailhead / parking signs, directional signs, reminder signs along the trail, and installation costs.

[1] https://www.unitedrentals.com/marketplace/equipment/earthmoving-equipment/mini-excavators/mini-excavator-3000-3999-lbs#/

General Trail Equipment

The Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation has a store of trail equipment ranging from hand tools to chainsaws and other power equipment, all stored in a towable trailer. For the purposes of this project, it is recommended that a tool donation of at least $1,000 be made to the trails group for use of this equipment.

Parking Areas

There are two planned parking areas, one on the north side of the property and the other on the south. Parking area costs will consist of machine grading, fencing, and gates. These costs are not included in this estimate.

Trails Timeline

Public Feedback

Having brief and focused meetings with individuals, groups, and allowing for an open house type forum is essential to ensure that this project’s plans accurately represent the needs of the public that will be using these trails. During each meeting a brief presentation will occur using information from this project document. Feedback on the specific designs in this plan will be solicited. After each meeting the project development team will review the feedback and adjust the project plan as deemed necessary.

Here is a suggested course of action:

1.    February: Focused Meetings

A.   Cross Country Team

B.   Mountain Bike Team

C.   Community Advocates of Big Bear

D.   Pebble Plain Committee – USFS and SBMLT

E.   Trails Advisory Group – Big Bear Trails, Southern California Mountains Foundation, City of Big Bear Lake, County of San Bernardino, Snow Summit Resorts, USFS.

2.    March: Open House at either Big Bear High School or Baldwin Lane Elementary.

3.    April: Official Announcement of School Trails Plan.

Trails

As the general trail design is broken down into three loops, it is recommended that the construction timeline be based off these loops and the relevant connectors. The Airport Light Road is largely usable right now, however there are multiple vehicle routes winding through this area. One vehicle route (that can also be used for non-motorized travel as part of this network) should be chosen and the others decommissioned and rehabilitated.

Parking Areas

As a loop is being constructed, concurrent construction should begin on the nearby parking area/trailhead.

Signage

Sign development should take place during trail construction, with the goal that once the trail is opened, basic signs are ready and in place. It is suggested that finalized signs wait at least 6 months before being put in place to allow time to review and revise trail system needs.

Considerations

Project Brand and Identity

The Education Foundation / School Trails project needs a logo and description to present to the public and place upon signs at parking areas and on the trail.

Liability Concerns for Trails

The School Trails area can be viewed as a public park; with this, it is important to consider general safety issues that may arise and liability concerns. It is advised that a comprehensive risk management plan be developed to identify and address issues. A good primer on this issue can be found here: https://www.railstotrails.org/build-trails/trail-building-toolbox/management-and-maintenance/liability-and-trail-insurance/.

Future Projects

Other projects that have been discussed for use on this property include ball fields and aquatic centers, both of which would require relatively flat areas of land. The majority of trails in this network are build on moderate to steep slopes that do not lend themselves to many other uses, so future conflict is not anticipated. If other projects on this land do come to fruition, relevant trails can be rerouted with minimal effort to accommodate and provide connectivity to these projects.

Land Tenure

While this project is on private land, it is expected that the public will be involved in donating both funds and labor to the project. As such, it is highly encouraged that language specifying a period of land tenure be formally adopted. This language shall grant the public access to the project.

School Security Concerns

The two adjoining schools, Big Bear High School and Baldwin Lane Elementary, are currently fenced and secured campuses. Public trails that are near these campuses increase the number of people nearby, thereby increasing security risks. It will be important to ensure that all fences are continuous and intact, and that any school access gates are secured. It is important to note that many public elementary and high schools are surrounded by city streets and sidewalks, and the public passes by their fences on a regular basis.

Parking

The creation of a trail network will draw people, and with it their cars. While this document outlines suggested parking areas, it does not address parking area construction. Signage, however, will need to be consistent from parking area to trail. Parking on the north side of the property especially will be limited and has the potential to overflow and affect the residential parking on streets. Trailhead signage should reflect parking rules and discourage overflow parking on residential streets.

Snow Play and Winter Use

Winter snow play in the Big Bear Valley is a challenge for land managers; snow brings sleds and play and picnicking, and with it crowds and parking challenges and trash. Currently, the project area abutting Big Bear Boulevard already sees snow play, even with no trespassing signs and barbed wire fencing. A snow play plan should be developed to address how the Education Foundation wants to handle winter recreation on this property.

User Group Conflict

It is imperative that a focused and comprehensive strategy be developed to regulate use on this property and set up a structure that allows different user groups to get along in a friendly fashion.

Valley Experience and Resources

The Big Bear Valley is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, which accommodates a large variety of user groups. Hikers, runners, mountain bikers, equestrians, motorbikes, ATV’s, 4×4’s and more all use this forest. A large focus of the local trails group over the last decade has been understanding the needs of each user group and encouraging them to share the trails and land in a positive and constructive fashion. A good resource for user conflict understanding and strategies is presented here: https://www.americantrails.org/files/pdf/Trail_User_Group_Conflicts_and_Risk_Management_EN.pdf

Private Land User Conflict Reduction Strategies

Because the trail network is on private land, opportunities are present to be creative in strategies that will reduce the potential for user conflict.

1.    Consistent and Frequent Educational Signage: One of the most effective user-conflict reduction strategies is education, and it is highly suggested that consistent, frequent, visible, and friendly signage be placed along trails in this network. Messages should be varied, ranging from the traditional “Share The Trail” etiquette triangle and “Slow Down Trail Crossing Ahead” to more personalized messages like “Say Hello To Someone Today” and “Whoa Biker! Let that Pedestrian pass!”, and “Be Nice Say Hi”.

2.    Bells on Bikes: locally, the trails group has implemented a bike bell program on popular trail Pine Knot. Hikers have consistently reported that they are appreciative of both the message (share the trail) and the notification of a bike nearby (the bell on a bike). Ideas include:

A.   Bike Bell Box: at prominent trailheads there is a bike bell box, with free bells available to be placed on bikes.

B.   Suggested Bike Bells: signage is prominent that encourages the uses of bike bells and educates users on trail etiquette.

C.   Required Bike Bells: prominent signs displayed that allow bicycle usage on property only if a bike bell is present and being used on the bike. Users in violation will be reported and usage rights restricted.

3.    Designated Days: loops and routes can be designated as mountain bike friendly only on certain days of the week. “To reduce conflict, Mountain Bike use on this trail not permitted on Mondays and Thursdays”.

4.    Designated Direction: loops and routes can be designated as one-way only for mountain bikes. This prevents head on collisions with mountain bikes and allows other users to anticipate which direction bikes will be traveling. “To reduce conflict, Mountain Bike use on this trail is one-way only”.

 

Public Feedback

Please let us know of any questions, suggestions, comments, or concerns.

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Subject

    Your Message