Browns Ravine Trail Change-in-Use Project
Project Approved with ConditionsGold Fields District Superintendent Barry Smith approved the Change-in-Use Project for the Browns Ravine Trail, adding bikes as an allowed use on this 11-mile segment of trail along the South Fork Arm of Folsom Lake. The Project followed the Department’s Change-in-Use process in reaching this decision, and a Notice of Determination was filed on June 21, 2022, with the State Clearinghouse under the Programmatic EIR for the Road and Trail Change-in-Use Process. The Brown’s Ravine Trail Change-in-Use has been approved with conditions but will not be open to bicycles until the high-priority design and management modifications identified in the change-in-use evaluation are implemented. Once these modifications are complete there will be official notification that the trail will be open to bicycles. See next steps below.
Public Comment and Responses
The District sought and received extensive public input on the project. Approximately 150 people attended the virtual public meeting on January 12, 2022, and State Parks received more than 750 individual comments before and after the meeting. State Parks staff have read and considered all of the public comments submitted regarding this project. A summary of these public comments, along with master responses, has been prepared and is available here.
The trail will not be open to bike use immediately. The next steps in the project will include completing the trail design and management modifications identified in the Change-in-Use evaluation, which will occur over the next couple of years. For the trail modifications, this will involve completion of NEPA review of the proposed modifications by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, obtaining required permits, developing project construction work logs, developing a project work schedule and implementing the trail modification work. Management modifications include developing new trail safety and etiquette signage, implementing State Parks trail patrols and public outreach events, and volunteer trail patrol and education programs. Click here to review the project schedule
We've heard from you!
Folsom Lake SRA recently sought and has received public input on the Browns Ravine Trail Change-in-Use (CIU) project. This project proposes to change the trail’s use designation from hiking and equestrian to multi-use, adding bikes as an allowed use on the trail.
Members of the public took advantage of the following opportunities to provide input on this project:
- A virtual public meeting was held Wednesday, January 12, 2022, from 6 pm to 8 pm.
- The public was encouraged to submit comments to California State Parks, by email, from November 19, 2021, through January 31, 2022. The comment period was extended to February 28, 2022 and is now closed.
Parks staff will soon provide responses to all public comments received. Additionally, Folsom Lake SRA intends to come to a decision on the Browns Ravine Trail CIU project in the coming months of 2022. Responses to public comments and parks’ decision on the proposed CIU will be posted to this webpage.
If you would like to receive updates about the Browns Ravine Trail CIU project, please submit your email address to the project mailing list.
Additional details concerning this project are provided in the sections below.
The Browns Ravine Trail is an unpaved, 11-mile trail connecting Browns Ravine to the Old Salmon Falls Trailhead. Existing use designations on the Browns Ravine Trail are limited to hiking and equestrian.
The Browns Ravine Trail Change-in-Use (CIU) project proposes to change the trail’s use designation to multi-use. In addition to hiking and equestrian uses, the multi-use trail designation would allow bicycles on this trail. This proposed CIU is moving forward as a stand-alone project, separate from the concurrent Folsom Area State Parks Road and Trails Management Plan.
A multi-disciplinary team of natural and cultural resources, planning, public safety and trail specialists from California State Parks’ Gold Fields District has evaluated the Browns Ravine Trail CIU using the Department’s Seven-Point CIU Evaluation Form. The evaluation form can be found here. The District CIU Team Recommends approving the CIU with modifications to the trail.
The final decision concerning the Browns Ravine Trail CIU project will be made by the Gold Fields District Superintendent following consideration of public input.
Efforts to change the use designation of the Browns Ravine Trail from hiking and equestrian to multi-use date back to 2000. In June of that year, the Folsom Lake Trails Advocacy Group (FTAG) was formed with the goal of increasing safe trail access and reducing conflicts among trail user groups.
FTAG members included equestrian, mountain biking, trail running and youth representatives. A multi-disciplinary team of state parks staff led FTAG’s efforts and facilitated dialogue among its members. The group met regularly over the course of two years, discussing many ideas for achieving its goals.
FTAG eventually proposed a one-year pilot program that aimed to determine whether a trail within Folsom Lake SRA (FLSRA) could be successfully converted from hiking and equestrian to multi-use. The Browns Ravine Trail was selected due to its relatively gentle terrain and light use, and that the trail could be readily modified for the proposed change-in-use.
FTAG proposed that following necessary modifications, the change-in-use designation was to be implemented, monitored and evaluated for a period of one-year. At the conclusion of the one-year pilot program, the District Superintendent would determine whether to make the change-in-use permanent.
A team of state parks trail specialists and FTAG members conducted an on-the-ground assessment of the entirety of the Browns Ravine Trail. They identified a number of modifications and management actions needed to successfully implement the proposed pilot program conversion. These included trail re-routes and repairs, new signage, trail patrols and a public education campaign. Additionally, the team held two public meetings in 2001, presenting the proposal to and gathering input from the public.
In 2002, FTAG recommended to the Gold Fields District Superintendent that the one-year pilot program be implemented. The Superintendent ultimately decided to postpone the decision until completion of the FLSRA General Plan, which had just been initiated.
The FLSRA General Plan was approved in 2009. Though it did not specifically recommend a change-in-use for the Browns Ravine Trail, it did identify a number of trail-related proposals, including the development and implementation of a “Trails Master Plan.”
Concurrently, the department had begun initiating the development of a formal Change-in-Use (CIU) process and had also identified the purpose and content of long-term Road and Trail Management Plans (RTMP).
The Folsom Area State Parks Road and Trails Management Plan (RTMP) was initiated in 2012. State Parks recently brought on a consultant team, Placeworks Inc, to assist with the completion of the RTMP.
The Browns Ravine Trail CIU is moving forward as a stand-alone project, separate from the Folsom Area State Parks RTMP.
Relationship of the Browns Ravine Trail CIU to the Folsom Area State Parks RTMP
As part of the ongoing Folsom Area State Parks RTMP process, State Parks held three stakeholder meetings in 2014 to gather input on park unit roads and trails. This included soliciting requests for trail Change-in-Use (CIU) proposals.
As a result, requests to evaluate changes-in-use on nearly all trails within Folsom Lake SRA where bike use was not allowed were received. In response, parks staff formed a District CIU Team, which assessed all trails where a CIU was requested, including the Browns Ravine Trail, using the Department’s seven-point CIU evaluation form.
State Parks has decided to move forward with a decision on a CIU for the Browns Ravine Trail as a stand-alone project, separate from the RTMP, for the following reasons:
- The trail was previously assessed as an individual CIU.
- Terrain along the trail is relatively gentle and generally features good sight lines.
- The trail’s soils are very durable and will hold up to increased use.
- The trail is bookended by multi-use trails, which will greatly increase trail connectivity and circulation opportunities for mountain bikes.
- The Browns Ravine CIU makes sense within the context of the entire State Recreation Area trail system.
If approved, the stand-alone CIU decision will allow State Parks to implement the Browns Ravine CIU ahead of the RTMP.
Change-in-Use (CIU) Process
Developed by State Parks in 2008, the Change-in-Use (CIU) process is used to facilitate the review of CIU proposals that would add uses to or remove uses from existing recreational roads and trails within the state park system.
Browns Ravine Trail Change-in-Use (CIU) Evaluation
A multi-disciplinary team of natural and cultural resources, planning, public safety and trail specialists from California State Parks’ Gold Fields District has evaluated the Browns Ravine Trail CIU and the completed evaluation can be found here.
The CIU Evaluation Form assesses the feasibility of proposed changes-in-use by focusing on seven key areas:
- Existing Conditions
- Compatibility with Existing Uses, Facilities and Services
- Effects on Circulation Patterns
- Effects on Trail Safety
- Effects on Trail Sustainability
- Effects on Natural and Cultural Resources
- Effects on Trail Operations and Maintenance
Change-in-Use (CIU) Team Findings and Recommendations
The Gold Fields District CIU Team recommends approving the proposed Browns Ravine Trail CIU with trail design and management modifications, which are detailed in the section below. The purpose of the modifications is to help ensure that the trail is safe and sustainable.
The CIU evaluation noted that portions of the Browns Ravine Trail, which generally features sustainable grades and good lines of sight, are used regularly by mountain bikers. The proposed CIU would enhance trail access and circulation for bikes.
Proposed Modifications to the Browns Ravine Trail
Trail modifications proposed by the Gold Fields District CIU Team include trail reroutes, the reconstruction of trail segments and bridges, the repair and or installation of drainage features and additional trail modifications. These proposed modifications, which prioritize trail safety and sustainability, have been identified and mapped.
High-priority modifications, such as reroutes, aim to repair unsustainable trail segments that drain directly into streams and drainages. These modifications would need to be implemented prior to opening the Browns Ravine Trail to bikes.
Proposed modifications include:
- Three reroutes into and out of small drainages, with short trail bridge crossings of the drainages. This involves 1,873’ of new trail construction reroutes and 1,339’ of existing trail removal. (High-Priority)
- Three reroutes into and out of drainages with armored crossings, involving 1,163’ of new trail construction of reroutes and 1,941’ of trail removal. (High-Priority)
- Four reroutes not directly involving significant drainages totaling 8,839’ of new trail construction reroutes and 3,654’ of trail removal. This includes one long reroute of approximately 7,700’ to reduce excessive unsustainable trail grades and to move the trail away from adjacent residences. (High-Priority)
- Removal of 1,888’ of parallel trail segments on unsustainable grades. (High- and Medium-Priority)
- Construction of 164’ of puncheon and 899’ of turnpike/causeway where existing trail segments pass through seasonal wet areas. (High-Priority)
- Reconstruction of segments of trail including 6,613’ of trail widening at the Old Salmon Falls end of the trail. (High-Priority)
- Reconstruction or repair of armored crossings and installation of drainage dips. (High-Priority)
Site specific environmental analysis of the proposed modifications would be completed prior to implementation.
Browns Ravine Trail Change-In-Use (CIU) Project Schedule
|Browns Ravine Trail Change-In-Use (CIU) Request||2014||Complete|
|District CIU Team Field Evaluation and Recommendation||2015 – 2016||Complete|
|Trail Modification Mapping||2021||Complete|
|Final CIU Decision||2022||Complete|
|Trail Modification Environmental Review and Permitting||2022 - 2023||Pending|
|Implementation of Trail Modifications||2022 - 2024||Pending|