The Monterey Off-Road Cycling Association (MORCA) is pleased to announce it has been awarded a grant of $78,000 from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to “reduce environmental impact in Couch Canyon and explore an alternative North-South single track connector trail to relieve user conflicts at the Fort Ord National Monument.”
The grant is funded by BLM through its Recreation Management Program for the Fort Ord National Monument. The primary components of Phase 1 of the two-year project are: (1) construct a bridge across lower Couch Canyon (Trail 47) to reduce erosion from the trail where it crosses a failed culvert; and (2) delineate, map and flag a re-route of Trail 60 to provide an alternative to heavily used Trail 50 North to improve user safety. Assuming successful Phase 1 implementation, the BLM would fund Phase 2 work, which entails final design and construction of the T60 re-route.
MORCA President, Lisa Birch, expressed pride that the all-volunteer non-profit group achieved this major goal. “This is a huge accomplishment for MORCA and I’m in awe of the hard work by our Vice-President, Mike McGirr, and trail crew leaders Darius Rike and John Beardshear, who made this happen,” she said.
She added, “This is another example where MORCA demonstrates community leadership by giving a lasting contribution and improvement to the Fort Ord National Monument for all trail users to enjoy for decades to come.”
Fort Ord National Monument manager, Eric Morgan, noted that MORCA has been a key partner for trail maintenance at the Monument for many years. Regarding this major grant, Morgan said, “The BLM is thrilled with the trail stewardship leadership of MORCA and thrilled with the upcoming improvements that will benefit cyclists, hikers, joggers and equestrians on the Monument.”
Mike McGirr explained that in-kind contributions of time and labor by MORCA and community volunteers are integral to the grant. “MORCA already has regular trail maintenance days, but we will be calling on all trail users to come out for major work parties to make this project happen. We’ll also be asking for help from the local business community to loan equipment or donate food to make these trail work events a success and an enjoyable experience for all,” he stated.
MORCA is working to complete the Couch Canyon Bridge before the April 2023 Sea Otter Classic. The Trail 60 re-route recommendation will be submitted to BLM for evaluation in mid-2023; if the design is acceptable, the relief trail project could be completed by July 31, 2024.