Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happier Trails for Canyon Hikers

In today's Star News:

ALTADENA — Homeowners trying to block public access to El Prieto Fire Road agreed late last week to stop harassing hikers.
The homeowners, John and Melody Mitchell, Jerome and Verna Cooper, and Wayne and Mary Traylor, were facing a contempt of court hearing for violating the conditions of a 2004 ruling that allowed access to the road. Part of the fire road crosses their property.
The ruling is under appeal.

El Prieto Road connects the Meadows area of Altadena to other trails in Angeles National Forest, including those leading to the grave site of abolitionist Owen Brown, who died in 1889.
“They were getting front of people, yelling at people, taking photographs of people, calling the sheriffs,” said Paul Ayers, prosecutor for the case.

The Mitchells, Coopers and Traylors could not be reached for this story. Their attorney, Michaeline Re, had no comment.

“Apparently they were misinformed as to the effects of that [2004] judgment,” said resident Raymond Backes. “They felt that their appealing of the case staid the judgment of the court so that they wouldn’t have to honor the general public’s right to go through there.”
Backes said he was among those confronted by homeonwers when hiking the trail.
“We are legally entitled to go through there,” he said.

Under conditions of the settlement, the homeowners are prohibited from speaking to or interfering with any member of the public who is on the trail easement, photographing or videotaping them, or erecting any barriers on the trail (though “No Trespassing” signs will remain in place).

In exchange, they have asked that trail users do a better job of picking up after their dogs and carrying trash and cigarette butts out with them.
Ayers said he would encourage hikers to do so.
“People should recognize they have a responsibility to minimize their impact as trail users,” he said. “Trash generates trash just like graffiti generates graffiti.”

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