On Tuesday, July 21, I happened to be in China Camp State Park. At about 7pm I saw three State Park emergency vehicles drive up. Two of them went up into the steep terrain to rescue an injured mountain biker. I asked the ranger who was stationed at the trail entrance how often this sort of thing happened. The ranger said, "about once a week, here in China Camp". I was astonished to hear this report. When the ambulance crew arrived a few moments later, I asked them how many times they make emergency trips for injured mountain bikers here at China Camp and they said about 3 trips in 6 weeks. When I told them what the ranger said, they said that once a week was probably correct because there were two other ambulance crews who respond to injuries at China Camp. A sheriff's vehicle also pulled up to survey the scene.
Who pays for these rescues, and does the state park system keep detailed data on the number and frequency of bike injuries and accidents for other state parks in this Marin district?
There was a recent attempt by IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) and other local mountain bike advocacy groups to open up a steep narrow trail in Samuel Taylor State Park called Bill's Trail, to mountain biking. The request was placed on hold while state authorities were forced to wrestle with strict CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) requirements. Bill's Trail is far more remote and difficult than China Camp, for emergency vehicles to access injured bikers. Is the state park authority not telling us something important regarding the hidden costs of mountain biking in the Marin District? As the state sinks into deepening economic turmoil, isn't it sensible and responsible to limit access to trail systems to this sport that is proving itself to be a financial burden and a drain on emergency services? Some national parks charge for rescues, shouldn't we?