06/25/2018 at 2:02 pm #2416chris in redlandsParticipant
As a long-time user of the trails in the SGW, I can say that there have been some profound recent changes in usage of the various trails, including (but not limited to) the San Bernardino Peak Trail. On any given Saturday lately, one might find 50 cars at the trailhead parking lot along with another 30 along the road leading to the parking lot from Angelus Oaks. Four years ago on a summer weekend day, you might find 10 or 15 cars, total.
There was a marked increase in traffic on this trail when the Lake Fire closed all but it and the Forsee Creek trail section to Johns Meadow. When most of those trail miles were re-opened a year ago, I expected a decline in traffic on the San Bernardino Peak trail, which never materialized. What I did notice was a lot of people out there on the “Six Pack of Peaks” challenge, which I guess is something where you pay money to join an online community that rewards you with stuff for climbing six peak, of which San Bernardino Peak is one.
Last year, the requirement for day hike permits ended, and for a while, traffic was still reasonable. No more. It’s a free-for-all on the weekends, and my best guess is that more than half of the traffic is people who are out to add to their six-pack of peaks. They are easy to spot, as they’re usually sporting some regalia related to the endeavor.
Without qualifying the good/bad/indifferent of it all, I have to wonder:
Who is evaluating the impact that this has on the wilderness, and does that organization have the Forest Service’s ear?
Is that the SGWA? If so, are volunteers making quantifiable observations of the increased traffic and advising the USFS of the impact on the wilderness?
The USFS last year, with no fanfare, simply ended the permit requirement for day hikes that had been in place in the SGW for (I assume) more than 50 years (since it became a wilderness). Seems that there would be active studies to see what impact that might have…
Before the permit system went away, there were armies of volunteers on all the popular trails checking permits. Since the permit system for day hikes ended, I’ve seen lots of trail crews out there (who are doing an epic job, btw) but in hundreds of miles of hiking since then, I have not seen a single person taking inventory of who is using the trails.
Is this something the SGWA has thought of? I’d have thought that all of the former enforcement volunteers would be immediately called upon to monitor the changes in use of the trail.
My anecdotal observations of those changes indicate that they are profound, and potentially deleterious to the nature of the wilderness.
06/29/2018 at 6:22 pm #2439stbrnnrParticipant
Hey Chris, thanks for sharing your concerns. Tried responding a few days ago but my reply didn’t post–perhaps due to some page links i embedded. You may recall an exchange we had last Sept. here on the Forum in a previous post of yours, concerning the initial lifting of mandatory dayhike permits. I too share these same concerns and am looking forward to SWGA representatives’ comments as they’re able. Lately the SWGA Facebook group page has been seeing much more activity [and range of topics than this Forum; if you’re not FB-adverse please check it out and perhaps submit this same post there for more eyes on the matter… thx again– steveb
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