Please Help Save Off-Trail Hiking in Anza Borrego

Today I read post over at backpackinglight.com that linked to this article at Modern Hiker, PROPOSED RESTRICTIONS TO HIKING IN ANZA-BORREGO

Please read the article and act quickly if you think the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) is overstepping its bounds, as comments will not be accepted after June 6, 2016. I have included my email to CDPR plus additional information to help you make an informed decision.

I don’t know Scott Turner of Modern Hiker, but he spent a lot of time figuring out what areas will be off limits to off-trail hiking and to be honest, he just cherry picked the most well-known places. He mentioned 5 that are within the Coyote Canyon Cultural Preserve, but he did not make it clear that almost all of the nearly 30,000 acres in this singe area, much of it wilderness, will become off limits.

Anza Borrego State Park already has a comprehensive plan to manage its Cultural Preserves, which was adopted in November 2012.

Here are some links to three of my trip reports in the Coyote Canyon Cultural Preserve, since you may never be able to experience them should this ill-advised proposal be implemented:

Butler, Box & Coyote Canyon Loop

Coyote Canyon Cultural Preserve Walk-about 

More Ramblings in the Coyote Canyon Area 

HERE IS THE EMAIL I SEND TO THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION

trails@parks.ca.gov

TO:

Lisa Mangat, Director

Alexandra Stehl, Roads and Trails Program Manager

Please consider my protest to the proposed blanket policy:

TITLE 14. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION April 22, 2016

Off-Trail Use Restrictions for Preserves and Reserves

NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

I am surprised – actually shocked that the CDPR would put forth such a sweeping restriction without regard to the unique features of each specific State Park. For example, the largest California State Park, Anza Borrego State Park, is a place much different than all the other units under the jurisdiction of the CDPR. It is beyond my comprehension that your organization (it should be our organization; that is the citizens of California) would prohibit off-trail hiking in the Coyote Canyon Cultural preserve, and area of nearly 30,000 acres that has no trails, other than a dirt road. This area is already closed four months of the year to protect Big Horn Sheep access to water, a regulation that makes sense. In this area, your sweeping regulation will force hikers to share a dirt road with vehicles and equestrian traffic, not the safest or enjoyable method of travel for the citizens of California who would like to enjoy this wonderful cultural and breathtaking desert jewel.

Even more perplexing to me is the amount of money your organization spent developing the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Cultural Preserve Management Plan of 2012, which you will now mostly disregard with your proposal. It is best to give control of policies to the local administrators of each State Park, as they are most qualified to understand, protect, and meet the needs of California’s residents and other visitors to our public lands.

Even more frustrating to me is the lack of details in the proposal and the difficulty in even finding out about it. Unfortunately, you are closing comments in four days, and I just found about it today. The Coyote Canyon Cultural Preserve is closed to the public until October 1, 2016. I would be thrilled to take you or anyone on your staff for a 3 or 4 day backpacking trip throughout the area, and am sure that anyone who would join me on such a trip would agree the proposed rule is flawed. I am available anytime to undertake such a trip. I hope those who are making these proposals are actually backpackers – it should be a requirement for anyone who sets policy in the backcountry.

Sincerely,

Nick Gatel

Palm Springs, CA

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