By Mike Loranger
Dear Mr. Mitchell,
Thank you for your thoughtful editorial on the Cedar Creek Falls, but many people would like you to go one step further and propose a viable solution to the problem. Rather than focus on one problem, please focus on what I see as four major problems in the area, and then use your newspaper to help work toward a solution.
First, not only is the Cedar Creek Falls hike dangerous for the ill-prepared (both mentally and physically), it is also costing the county a fortune, and monopolizing law enforcement and rescue assets, both of which are needed by the entire county.
Second, prior to closure, the Cedar Creek Falls area was being overrun with hikers. To preserve its wilderness character, the sheer number of people must be limited, and all visitors must be committed to extremely high standards of conduct.
Third, the fire danger in this area is extreme, even without hikers. The fact that some of our “wilderness” neighbors from “down the hill” were having campfires should make everyone in the Ramona-Julian area cringe.
And finally, not only were the Cedar Creek Falls being overrun, the neighborhood adjacent to the trailhead was overrun as well. This issue cannot be minimized as the USFS (United States Forest Service) has done. From past experience, the number of parking spots at the trailhead evenly matches what the area is able to absorb without environmental damage.
So Mr. Mitchell, I ask you to use your newspaper to propose and champion a common sense solution to which USFS is very well aware. This solution is to “permit” the hike, much as is done with Mount Whitney and a host of other areas inside and outside the State of California. The permitting process is simple. It limits both the numbers and the kinds of people hiking into the Cedar Creek Falls areas, and puts restrictions on their activities along the way.
I believe the USFS representatives have played coy with everyone involved. They are familiar with the permit process and knew this was the only workable solution from the start. It is not enough for “the forest service (to) decide if the risks outweigh the rewards in this area.” I believe you, Mr. Mitchell, are in a position to ensure the USFS acts in a responsible manner.
Mike Loranger is a Ramona resident.