|Rockville Road in Fairfield, north of I 80|
|Two square miles with 20 miles of foot and bike trails.|
Rockville Hills Regional Park is Fairfield's little mountain bike haven. Located just out of town to the northwest, it can be accessed from either Abernathy or Green Valley Exits on I80. Rockville offers a variety of great terrain. A short climb brings you to a valley surrounded by small peaks. From here, everything you see is fair game. Rolling fire roads, twisting single track, easy-to-treacherous descents, rock drops/gardens/jumps, and beautiful oak woodlands surround a lake with strategically placed picnic benches. For mountain bikers from Davis this is the default location to drive your bike to go for a ride. It is only forty minutes of painless Sacramento-free driving to access singletrack trails that will keep you in practice for the most challenging rides farther afield.
In January 2006, the city of Fairfield started a "pay to play" program for the park. There is an electronic ticket machine at the main park entrance on Rockville Road and at the Green Valley access. The cost (for non residents of Fairfield) ranges from $3 for one person for one day (plus $1 per dog), to $30 for a six month family membership ($13 for a six-month dog membership).
- http://www.ci.fairfield.ca.us/cs-rockvillehillspark.htm - This is the City's main info page for the park.
- You can download the trail map here: http://www.ci.fairfield.ca.us/files/RockvilleHillsParkTrailMap.pdf
There is volunteer trail work at the park on the third Saturday of each month at 9am. Call Ranger Teri Geiger at (707) 428 7614.
On Saturday December 9 at 9am there will be a meeting of concerned trail users and park officials addressing current management issues. The meeting is going to be held at the lower lake (that's at the top of the fire road from the main parking area).
The following is a summary (copied from the MTBR forum) from an attendee of the meeting:
In all, it was a productive meeting in the sense that we made our voices heard but it seemed as though the contractor - the one who had been convicted of killing red-legged frogs in Concord - was the one who was responsible for the atrocities at Rockville, seemingly to comply with his court order of restoring and protecting environs elsewhere in retribution for his previous atrocities. Well, it seems that he's at it again and he really either doesn't know how to restore and protect or his sub-contractors/agents don't; or maybe they just don't really care as much about the park as the obligation to the court.
The main interest of the park users was to restore Rockville to the condition it was in only a few short years ago, without the excessive fencing and cattle grazing. Cattle have been blamed for the decimation of young Oak trees, cattle feces and urine in sensitive water areas, damage to trails, and by ingestion, replacing wildflower fields with, as Ted Stroll put it, "...a dreary monoculture of Star Thistle..." throughout the park.
The bulk of the meeting was Mr. Fred Beiner explaining that he was trying to do right by a 2002 park management document that outlined management of fuel loads and additionally trying to enhance/protect "sensitive environments." They came to the conclusion that they needed to enhance cattle grazing to keep the fuel load down while keeping the cattle out of sensitive environments by installing [A LOT of] fencing.
Park Ranger, Terry Geiger, stressed many times that the park itself does not have funding for other methods of fuel load management. Goat or sheep grazing, mowing or controlled burns actually cost the park money whereas cattle grazing makes a small amount of money for the park.
She and Mr. Beiner repeatedly pointed out that the "enhancement/preservation" work was all being paid for by the contractor. It seemed that the City of Fairfield and Ranger Geiger have little or no control over how the money is being spent and to what end. Nor are they willing to commit to a timeframe for ending the grazing and subsequent fences.
The fire officials that attended the meeting stressed that fuel load management was of utmost importance but the biggest flaw I found in their arguments regarding fuel load was the placement of cattle. If the major concern that they stressed was to protect the nearby and encroaching homes, then the fuel load management should logically be closer to those homes - instead of damaging the center of the park with cattle grazing and thus having to protect the "sensitive environments" from the cattle.
I don't think that anyone will argue that fuel load management isn't important. It is obvious that a fire in the park and the following extinguishment COULD cause extensive damage to the park. BUT, the likeliness of a fire at the center of a park seems much less than the probablility of a fire at the residential adjoining fringes of the park given the history of fires in Rockville. The last fire actually started in one of the developments and spread into the park.
Other than the meeting, I spoke to Maggie Halls of the Fairfield Community Services Commission. She requested that if we had links or contacts for her to talk to other city parks officials regarding how they manage their fuel loads in regard to having a similar sized park with residential structures to protect and similar city/park budgets. I will be following up by calling/emailing Martinez, Concord and Walnut Creek parks departments.
I also spoke to Esther Pryor from RATS - Rockville Alternate Transportation Society (also from Rockville Bikes). She requested volunteer help on trailwork, restoration and protection in the park. They meet on the 3rd Saturday of every month at Rockville to do various works.
I was warned about certain Fairfield Government individuals that might attack cyclists, speculated as being in retribution to our getting involved with this process. I do not regret, nor do I think any of my 2-wheeled compatriots do, getting involved to protect a park that we love from external, uncaring forces as the case may be.
A fairly short, grey-haired woman addressed the crowd about riding "cheater lines." We, in return, asked her to provide us with clearly marked maps of where the trails actually are so that the people that do it because they don’t know where the trail is supposed to run can know and correct the action. Other members said that it was the least that could be provided with the $15 6-month pass for park use.
Let me also stress my views of the variety of activities in vigilante response to this cattle/fencing issue. There have been incidents of users refusing to pay the use fee. There have also been fences cut illegally.
I do not believe that either of these acts will help our cause. Standing up, writing letters of displeasure, speaking at meetings, offering alternative solutions and attending volunteer labor sessions help cement our cause in the minds of the city officials. Anybody caught cutting fencing should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
It is dangerous to cut and leave segments of barbed wire in public access areas. It is hazardous to dogs and other animals and dangerous to cyclists and trail runners who are susceptible to getting tangled up and otherwise injured.
The only exception to this will be the authorized party that is allowed to attend to tear down the monstrosity at the center of the park, that presently cause injury to the views of the landscape.
Also see Parks for info on other local parks