Save Las Flores Ridge/Ladera Ridge

Discussion in 'Trailhead' started by jeskandarian, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. jeskandarian

    jeskandarian New Member

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    I first posted about this trail and its impeding closure with this post: http://www.socaltrailriders.org/ind...ower-chiquita-ridge.63961/page-6#post-1002183

    I've had an ongoing dialog with the Ranger responsible for this area and a couple of people at OC Parks who ultimately own the decision on what to do with these trails. I've heard the input from the previous thread and I'd like this thread to change the conversation to a positive tone with the goal of doing what we can to keep this area open for the long term.

    The tone of the conversation with the county is positive and if I had to summarize I'd say they are looking for ways to help us not only keep this trail open but also make it officially approved for public use. The ridge trail crossing onto Rancho Mission Viejo's property multiple times complicates things and they (the County) want to work on the community's behalf with RMV to keep the current routing. I'd say this is a unique opportunity for us as a group to keep this trail system open for the long term.

    They've asked me a couple of questions and I'd like to gather input from this group. The questions are:
    1. Where does your group usually enter the trail (oso?)
    2. Any interesting features or destinations that this trail is used to access?

    My answers to these questions are as follows. If you agree just reply with a +1 or add your input. I'll consolidate all input and send it along:
    1. Trail entrance:
      1. Most users enter the trail system at the Oso trailhead. Other users enter next to the fire station and climb to the ridge trail. There are several unique features and destinations when entering from either location:
        1. The Oso entrance has a short, steep demanding section at the start that local riders/runners look forward to conquering. You quickly feel isolated from the community when it turns into single track and you stop hearing cars or seeing houses.
        2. The Fire Station entrance is less challenging and also provides the quick isolation unique to this area.
    2. Interesting features/destinations:
      1. Continuing south on the ridge fire road past the Fire Station provides expansive views of both the canyon to the East/South and the coastal views depending on the visibility at the time. The trail is wide enough for bi-directional traffic of both bikers and hikers/walkers. The rolling hills can be used by even novice bikers/hikers. Every time you reach a new peak you get a unique view of your community and perhaps Catalina on a clear day.
      2. For hikers/bikers looking for more of a challenge there are multiple single track trails descending down towards Antonio parkway (these are North of the Fire Station trail)
      3. Once heading down that West side of the ridge you can proceed under Antonio Pkwy to connect with the trail below the RSM Water District and connect with the Trabuco Creek Road trail that runs under Oso Pkwy.
    Thanks in advance for you input.
     
  2. Ridgeback

    Ridgeback New Member

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    Some questions - Besides sharing information what is the process for keeping the bike routes open? Is there a plan? Should we form a body to approach RMV? Has this been done in the past?

    I understand and agree about keeping the dialogue positive but there is a major disconnect and there needs to be a forum where both parties can talk before things go downhill. It doesn't help matters when a gate is put up blocking a common trail without any notification, at least that I know of. This is where a formal body could come in handy to help with matters like these.
     
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  3. jeskandarian

    jeskandarian New Member

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    As I mentioned, the county seems willing to act on our behalf. RMV just wants the entire thing closed and I don't imagine us doing the talking will help. The OCParks people have an established relationship with them.

    "So what's the plan?": Work with OCParks who own and are responsible for (most of) that ridge trail and all of the other trails on the West side of the ridge.

    "Speak to RMV directly?": I don't think that'll help. They've been working with OCParks for years. They share a property line. If OCParks is willing to act on our behalf and make this an actual recreational use trail we should let them do the talking. (IMO of course)
     
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  4. dustyyoungblood

    dustyyoungblood Member

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    I read an article years ago that shared RMV's development plan of Ladera and Sendero as "Final". Final meaning no new construction and the rest is dedicated open space(closed) ((( which is now being called "Wilderness"))))) and existing ranch businesses, mining and such.

    I would love to form a club and get 20-30 new trails on ranch land way up to a peak. But that will never happen. They are done.

    I like the OC parks approach.
     
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  5. Ridgeback

    Ridgeback New Member

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    Thanks for elaborating. I agree that the OC parks approach is best.

    What I am confused about is why did OC parks not approach us before they spent resources on putting up a gate? Is it because they don't know who to approach? It sounds like you are point on this and it would be good to know for future reference how we can work together to prevent rash trail closures in the future.
     
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  6. Rollnstone

    Rollnstone Gathers No Moss

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    I usually enter from the Oso side, although it would be nice to access this area from the Ortega Hwy side. This trail is usually part of a much long loop for me. I miss the Camel Hump!!!!
     
  7. dustyyoungblood

    dustyyoungblood Member

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    My normal route was from jerrys dogs up the ridge to oso, then back to Ladera and down to the firehouse
     
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  8. BigTex

    BigTex Member

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    I rode it from every direction. Sometimes a quick loop through the middle of Ladera or the West Ridge, up the fireroad behind the power station and across to Oso. Sometimes up Firehose then across to Oso. Sometimes coming back on Tijeras Creek, up Meandering Trail (street), then up from Oso across to Firehose. Sometimes up from the power station, all the way to Oso, then back to Firehose. Didn't much care for Rage/Pipeline, but liked it better with the under-bridge connector to Waterworks. Never had a chance to try the other trail that dropped down the West side.

    I'm all for a dialogue with OC Parks. I also wonder if there isn't a conversation to be had with our OC supervisor, Lisa Bartlett. It seems that by declaring the area a "nature preserve," RMV is seizing public land for a private purpose - an offset for building houses. IANAL, but that sure seems specious to me. If only portions of the trail cross RMV land, they should have no standing to close all of it. The fact that OC Parks seems willing to go along with whatever RMV demands seems to make discussions with OC Parks difficult at best.

    Nor is this the first time RMV has attempted to close off land over which it doesn't have control and declare it a "nature preserve." It attempted to do that with the land on the south end of Ladera Ranch, and closed a gate across a road that had long standing as a trail (and, despite RMV's and LARMAC's assertions otherwise, was part of the Ladera Ranch trail system and existed on the earliest maps of that trail system).

    I remember an article a while back in the Register about all the trails RMV was going to build to go along with the new development. Not only was that complete and utter BS, but now they're closing down trails that aren't even on their land.
     
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  9. BigTex

    BigTex Member

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    I should also add that it wasn't used just by mountain bikers, but a lot of hikers and runners as well. I've seen the Tesoro cross country team training on the trail as well.
     
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  10. Seth K

    Seth K New Member

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    Living on the south side of Ladera, I enter by the power station on Antonio and exit on Oso or Backdraft.

    Thanks for taking the initiative.
     
  11. Ridgeback

    Ridgeback New Member

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    I ride from Oso and from Firehose mainly.

    @ BigTex, I like the point about hiking as when we found the gate up at the top of firehose, I was hiking with my family.

    For whatever it's worth, I have no problem if they close the trails that have been built on RMV land, and perhaps this could be used as a compromise to remove the gate on the ridge. What I fear is that the biker/hiker community will continue to disregard the gate and possible build new trails in response, which may further threaten our ability to use the area.

    @jeskandarian, I appreciate the updates you've provided. Let us know how we can help in your conversations.
     
  12. trailninja

    trailninja Going Slideways!!!! Staff Member

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    I would be gutted if all of the sudden the regulators banned trail access in my area. Hopefully access will be restored some day along with 2nd amendment rights in CA that are infringed upon.
     
  13. jbwsrv

    jbwsrv New Member

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    First, thanks jeskandarian for taking the initiative and setting a positive and communal tone to try set this right.

    I live in Las Flores, as you know , and enter from the Oso deer crossing sign (aka Rage). I also love to access every possible entry and exit point along that ridge (i.e. Pipeline, Firemans Pole, Backdraft, Inferno etc.). To that end, I support any effort to keep any part of that ridge open for all of us to enjoy...with one exception...

    IMHO everyone that cares about that ridge should concede that dropping down the Tesoro/RMV side of the ridge needs to be put to rest and left alone. Let's focus on the ridge and the trails dropping down towards Antonio. We have all lost the other side (i.e. TNT, Inferno, M80 etc). Anyone still riding, or heaven forbid still trying to build/maintain, trails on that side should stop immediately. It will only bring negative attention for all of us. That battle has been lost for a variety of reasons.

    On another more important note, I got a report from someone earlier today that was on the ridge and had seen that someone has physically removed (i.e. vandalized) the camera that was placed at the new large gate next to top of Firemans Pole. I frankly didn't know there was a camera there because the day I saw that gate I never went near it again. I now take the Oso entry and don't go further than Backdraft, as there is currently NO signage between those 2 points.

    Anyway, the very worst possible thing that anyone can do at this point is damage the property/equipment that RMV/parks are putting up. That behavior will very quickly end this discussion and NOT in our favor. I would include in that warning jumping/damaging/cutting any part of the gate or anything near it.

    Please spread that word.

    I'm here to get involved and help however I can.

    Thanks all.

    JJ
     
  14. jeskandarian

    jeskandarian New Member

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    Sorry for my long absence.

    After much back and forth the eventual response from OCParks was "too fucking bad".

    As you can imagine the main issue is the ridge trail traversing back and forth into RVM property. To "offically" re-route the trail would require removing vegetation which requires more paperwork and red tape than anyone is willing to deal with. (yes, we all know RVM has removed 100s of acres of vegetation and we're taking about a single track trail. Save your typing...)

    I asked how we as a community would go about getting this discussion officially in front of whatever decision makers there are at OCParks. There must be a way to raise the issue be discussed in their meetings. I got no response to this question.

    I also noticed a ranger at the Oso entrance with some gear and a backpack this morning. That can't be good.

    Here are the final messages from the email thread. I edited out the OCParks employee names and had to reformat the numbered bullets. Otherwise it is copy/paste.

    Message 1:
    "I felt the need to respond to make sure there are not any misconceptions or miscommunication regarding this project. [OCParks Employee #2] has taken the lead and is doing a terrific job moving this forward, but this is going to be a lengthy process and it will not be resolved overnight.


    1) As a private land owner, RMVC has no obligation to allow access or use of their property. We must respect their decision and remove them from the equation as far as a recreational trail is concerned.


    2) The County of Orange/OC Parks does own and manage this property, but it is also enrolled in the Orange County Southern Sub-Region Habitat Conservation Plan. This means that the area has been identified as valuable habitat for wildlife, including the Coastal California Gnatcatcher. Because of this status, any removal of vegetation constitutes “take of habitat” and is subject to review and approval by State and Federal wildlife regulatory agencies. This is a common practice that is followed by government agencies, land managers, developers, utility companies, etc. We cannot install a trail without making sure is justified and will not impact the resources the area was originally set aside to protect.


    3) We understand there is community interest in making this happen, and that volunteers would help with trail construction. However, a determination must be made before any work can begin. Until a decision has been made the area will remain in “closed’ status; there is a plan to repair the damaged fencing and install better signage in the area to indicate this. "

    Message 2:
    "We have met with our leadership and we will continue to work towards resolve. At this time, we are required to keep the trail closed and its use unauthorized. That does not mean to say that there is not a chance of future re-opening/re-authorization. In the meanwhile, both Westridge and Arroyo Trabuco Trails offer parallel routes in this area, and are both authorized and open for use.


    At OC Parks, we are tasked with the stewardship of this property, balancing the needs of recreation with natural resource conservation. It is not an easily accomplished commission. Things do change over time, so if I am informed of any new developments about this, I will issue an update. Also, if you have anything new or significant, I would be eager to hear from you as well.


    Both [OCParks employee #1] and I thank you for helping us manage our trails and natural resources."
     
  15. FijiRob

    FijiRob Member

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    Thanks for your efforts. This is a bummer for all the nearby hikers, runners and mountain bikers that used this trail. Unfortunately, I think that whomever built all the new illegal trails pissed off RMV, who accelerated this closure with the OC Parks in their back pocket.

    It is really sad that RMV is building a massive development less than a mile to the south but they are claiming this lonely single track is potentially causing detriment to the gnatcatcher while they plow away with their bulldozers in the very same canyon. Yeah, I know land was "set aside" but still it is a double standard.

    RMV constantly boasts on their Facebook page about all the new trails that are part of their new community but in reality they don't appear to have anything planned (I've asked for maps, plans, etc. on FB...but they have not responded). Visit their FB page, they enjoy comments. :)
     
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  16. dustyyoungblood

    dustyyoungblood Member

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    There it is, the typical "This is nature, you are not allowed in nature because you are human and a trail is the end of the world to the habitat" Just like swimming in the ocean kills fish.
     
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  17. un-kola

    un-kola Just another Homer!

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    Sounds like the more of the same eco-nazi excuses!!! -Lloyd
     
  18. BigTex

    BigTex Member

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    I'm pretty sure you can expect more trails - if they ever materialize - like the Sendero Loop trails, which are *&^$ worthless. Stupid steep and unsustainable.
     
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  19. jeskandarian

    jeskandarian New Member

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    I see someone posted this review on RMV's FB page. I'd suggest you all do the same :)

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Regarding the Ladera Ridge trail that you forced the County shut down.

    You've successfully strong-armed the County into blocking a trail that has been in use by the community for at least a dozen years that I personally know of. The county was fine with its use so your argument that it was always an illegal trail doesn't really hold water. The county knew the community was using it. We respected it and the County looked the other way. We as a community had a wonderfully isolated semi-challenging wilderness trail where we could escape for an hour or two.

    While the trail does veer slightly onto your property for a bit I find it hard to believe a developer could be so short sided when you profess your additions to the community and what you're building.

    You say that your land is being trespassed yet the area where the trespassing occurred (far north end of the trail near Oso) has neither fencing nor signage to protect it. If this land is so important to protect why wouldn't you protect it yourself by adding fencing next to the existing trail instead of forcing the County to shut the community out of a trail we've enjoyed for over a decade? The County would be fine with that solution and would be willing to make it an official use trail. I've spoken to them.

    We understand your need to protect your open space. Fence it off and protect it. You have the resources. Do you not find it odd that you can destroy hundreds of acres of land in a couple of years yet a long-established single track trail MUST be shut down because it is endangering wildlife in that canyon?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
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  20. FijiRob

    FijiRob Member

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    Very well stated! RMV will really appreciate the truth we offer on their FB page ;-) But let's keep it civil, polite and clean as this person and others have done. My bet is their legal department will repost their "Gnatcatcher Letter" stating the little bird is in grave danger because of this trail.

    BTW, according to historical aerial photographs, the trail has been around since at least the late 1960s......



     

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