by Dominic Grossman
What is the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness, and why isn’t the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run (AC100) allowed to use it this year?
The Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness was created in 2009 by the lobbying efforts of the Sierra Club. Forest by-laws prevent wilderness areas from being used for competition of any type. AC100 had been maintaining and using the trails on Mt. Williamson, Cooper Canyon, and Sulfur Springs long before the wilderness area was created, and the Angeles National Forest granted special use permits for the race while organizers worked with congressmen on getting a permanent exemption. Unfortunately, once the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was created in 2014, the Forest Service began to recant on its agreement with AC100 due to increased scrutiny, and the 2016 race is not allowed to use any trails within this area. This is not a political matter, but a procedural matter that mistakenly blocks access to AC100. The result is a 20 mile detour that uses out and backs on roads that that take away from the ascetic point to point nature of the original course.
Is there any precedent for granting a permanent exemption?
Yes, the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (WS100) experienced the same encroachment of wilderness with the creation of the Granite Chief Wilderness in 1984. Wendell T. Robie, the founder of the WS100 Ride called in a favor from his friend, President Ronald Reagan, who allowed Western States to be “Grandfathered in” to allow the run to continue to take place. Since then, Western States has always been granted a permit and paid back the Tahoe Forest Service with several thousand hours of conservation through trail work. It is AC100’s goal to procure a similar favor from President Barack Obama who is a supporter of positive community events like AC100 which bring together volunteers and runners to build character and camaraderie through maintaining trails and running 100 miles.
What can I do to help?
Sign the petition by filling out your information and clicking the confirmation button on the e-mail that arrives in your inbox https://wh.gov/iH2KF. Additionally, we ask that you share this link with as many people as possible to help us reach the 100,000 mark that guarantees a response from the White House.
Why should AC100 get a permanent exemption?
AC100 has many passionate runners and volunteers that take conservation very seriously and always leave the trails better than they left them. Without AC100 maintaining these trails, many would become overgrown and impassable due to limited forest service budgets for trail maintenance. The AC100 trail work program requires all entrants south of Fresno to volunteer 8 hours of their time doing trail work on the course, which includes trimming brush, managing culverts, building retaining walls, clearing down trees, and improving tread. This ensures a passable corridor through remote areas that allow for all trail users to have access to beautiful wilderness areas. Without AC100, PCT thru hikers, day hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners would not have reliable access through Sulfur Springs, Mt. Williamson, Idlehour Canyon, Shortcut Canyon, Cooper Canyon, and Santa Anita Canyon.
Also, we hope to continue the precedent that was set for Western States, and to allow other historic race courses to do the same as more land is set aside each year for new wilderness areas. Though AC100’s problem may seem isolated, there are other courses that use terrain that is being lobbied for wilderness status as well. The concept of wilderness is not a negative one, as long as it is managed with a positive interpretation of the Wilderness Act of 1974 that allows organizations like AC100 to maintain and respectfully use beautiful and pristine areas.