Santa Monica Mountains NRA Trails Management Plan

The National Park Service, California State Parks, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority have reinitiated preparation of the long-awaited Trail Management Plan (TMP) for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). The TMP will establish the overall vision for future development and management of the SMMNRA trail network. Based on identified desired conditions for park natural, cultural and recreational resources, the TMP will prescribe a comprehensive plan for circulation, access, and allowable trail uses for trails throughout the national recreation area.

Background

The purpose of the Trail Management Plan is to provide specific direction for the long term construction, maintenance, and management of the roads and trails system.  Specifically, the plan will:

• Determine which roads and trails should be maintained, removed, and/or enhanced. 
• Identify which of the unofficial trails should be removed and which should be made official.  
• Determine the types of trail uses (e.g. hiking, biking, and/or equestrian) that are appropriate on each road and trail.  
• Identify those roads and trails that lead to damage of the natural and cultural resources of the park, for example a trail that passes through an area of sensitive natural resources, and need to be re-routed and/or reconstructed.  
• Identify trail connections necessary to create trail loops and/or connect to trails outside the park.  
• Identify opportunities for new trails, where appropriate 
• Identify necessary trail facilities, such as restrooms, parking, and drinking water

Data Collection
The first stage of the planning process was to evaluate the existing condition of the roads and trails in the park and the permitted uses of each, and develop an inventory of each road and trail feature and condition. This information was then used to evaluate road and trail conditions and associated effects to natural and cultural resources.  

User Input
Additional data was gathered through a survey of park users.  Data included information on users’ current forms of recreation in the recreation area and ideas for improving existing and developing new trails and facilities.  These surveys were conducted during different seasons of the year to solicit input from a variety of trail users.  In addition to the survey, meetings were held with various user groups, such as equestrian and mountain biking clubs, to collect data and input on plan proposals.  

Change-In-Use
Proposals to change the types of uses permitted on a trail (i.e., proposals to add biking and/or equestrians to a trail) will be evaluated using the process described in the related Program Environmental Impact Report, available here.  A flow chart of this process is available here.