SeaOtter-5_2018

The crowds draw to the dual slalom for the action-packed downhill race that features jumps and carved turns.

Toro Park

The years-long drama over trails at Toro Park – and whether mountain bikes should be allowed on all of them – is coming back to the fore. On April 5, county staff presented an update to the Monterey County Parks Commission, and recommended a multi-use trail approach on all of its trails, with standards modeled after those employed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on the former Fort Ord.

Having trails designated for specific uses only, the county’s report states, “fuels the ‘us vs them’ attitude.”

That attitude has been fuel for controversy in recent years, with some mountain bikers building trails illegally in the 4,783-acre park – on some occasions cutting plants, or digging up the landscape on trails marked as closed to bikes – and which county staff does not have the manpower to regularly monitor.

The direction the county takes on the matter will ultimately rest with the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, but the BLM trail standards county staff is modeling after include a minimum trail width of 4 feet, a grade of less than 12 percent, “removing attributes designed for high speed such as bermed corners,” and removing “purpose-built single track trails,” which are designed for bikes to move in a single, often downhill direction.

County staff are in the process of creating their trail criteria, as well as updating Toro’s trail map – the last update was in 2009 – which will be presented to the Parks Commission in May 2018.

Fort Ord Rec Trail and Greenway (FORTAG)

FORTAG, a proposed 30-mile network of paved trails and greenways through Fort Ord and the surrounding communities, is inching closer to fruition.

April 12 marked the deadline for the Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s request for proposals for an environmental review of the project, which TAMC has already earmarked for $20 million generated by Measure X.

CSU Monterey Bay professors Fred Watson and Scott Waltz, the creators of the FORTAG concept, estimate the entire network will cost $40 million to construct, and remain confident that the remaining necessary funds can be met through grants. They estimate the environment review, which is being funded by $1 million of state money secured by TAMC, will begin in the summer and take one to two years.

Once completed, they say the first pieces of the network that will be built has still not been decided, but that it is likely they will connect with the paved Monterey Bay Scenic Trail, which runs from Lovers Point in Pacific Grove to Castroville.

A few things complicate the calculus, Watson says: The planning documents for each city or the county need to be approved before the project can break ground in a specific area, and he says the preference is for places not eligible for outside funding.

Waltz emphasizes that he and Watson are committed about being as transparent in the process as possible.

“We really want to take the opportunity to involve the community as much as possible,” Waltz says. “This is a regional asset for the area and the people who live here.”

If FORTAG is ultimately built out as envisioned, Watson adds, it will be a huge boon to the Sea Otter’s Gran Fondo events – all-ages cycling events on a designated route.

“It will provide great terrain for Gran Fondo,” Watson says.

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