The San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) has a Call to Action Alert regarding the California Department of
Fencing Fishing and Wildlife’s (CDFW) continued mismanagement of the Calavera Highlands Reserve (aka Calavera Lake). CDFW officials have been “aggressively” engaging with trails users
While Calavera is a sizable area with a large network of user-built trails that is a good place to get in riding with a descent outdoor experience it is definitely a shit show of redundant trails. No doubt about it, these are unofficial and illegal trails that the CDFW are wanking about. There is also no doubt about it that the CDFW does not manage this area. If this organization was doing its job, they would have been losing their mind a long time ago. Arbitrarily locking out the public from public lands by putting up fencing and signs and then walking away is not management.
From the periods in which I have interacted with CDFW, I have come to believe they think the land they acquire is “their” land and they are entitled to all of the protections and benefits that private property owners have. The primary benefit being they get to solely decide who may come on their property and who may not. It does not matter what their regulations state, the public knows that the land is public. The public will never accept Calavera Highlands Ecological Reserver as a pristine ecological reserve worthy of locking out the public. All one has to do is stand atop Calavera Hill and look around. The public is not staying out.
The CDFW track record in San Diego county seems to indicate that they do not possess the skillsets to properly manage lands that have an existing recreational baseline that includes people. Personally I think they depend on academic, non-profits and “friends of …” groups that do the bulk of the monitoring and management for them. The primary reason Crestridge Ecological Reserve allows mountain biking is because the Earth Discovery Institute is the de-facto land manager who recognized the benefit of responsible human-powered recreation . If the Earth Discovery Institute had not pushed so hard for the unique change for this reserve it would not have happened.
Despite the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) being on the San County Regional Trail Plan it is pretty much unattainable as a viable regional trail as long as the CDFW is involved with any of the land along the route. Numerous sections of the this trail in San Diego county go through lands mismanaged by CDFW and at pretty much everyone of those, the trail has fences and off-limits signs.
The county is most likely going to end up speeding hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new section of trail for the Coast to Crest Trail near Boden Canyon because the CDFW are not going to allow an easement along a 0.2 mile section of an existing old dirt road!
There are many other examples of the CDFW’s culture of “its my land not yours” mismanagement style throughout the county. Humans are part of the fauna of the San Diego ecosystems. Until the CDFW develops the skillsets and polices to effectively deal with the outdoor experience needs of this species the organization will continue suffer from a lack of land management creditability with the pubic. Until that changes the pubic will continue to give the CDFWs signs and fences a big double middle-fingered salute.