News Alert: Mission Trails Regional Park Area Closure
A Special Edition TrailNews Alert was sent out on 9/17 to inform you of a planned closure to areas of Mission Trails Regional Park, SDMBA's actions, stance, and next steps.
I. What SDMBA knows of the planned closure
a. It recently came to our attention that Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) is planning to close areas north of the 52. This includes Spring and Oak Canyons and the area referred to as East Elliot. We were told closure would include signage, enforcement and fines upward of $1500.
b. This closure comes as a result of a letter received by the City of San Diego from the US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFW) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), after a site visit revealed a considerable amount of unauthorized building and use of trails that impact highly sensitive and endangered species. The entire letter can be viewed here.
c. Over the last several years, MTRP acquired this property to expand the park, but it came with strict land use terms dictated by the Wildlife Agencies. While trails for recreation are compatible with the terms, the area must comply with the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) and must be integrated into the MTRP Master Plan Update (MPU). More information on the MPU can be viewed here.
II. What SDMBA has already done
a. On Sept. 13, 2013, SDMBA representatives met with Chris Zirkle, Deputy Director of Open Space City Park and Rec., Steve Haupt, District Manager of Open Space City Park and Rec. and Jeffrey Harkness, Park Planner, City of San Diego Development Services, to get first hand information on the planned closure. They discussed what the City thinks it must do to remain compliant with the Federal decisions and policies.
b. SDMBA representatives agreed to have Mr. Zirkle as a guest speaker at the next SDMBA Advocacy meeting to further explain the complex issues of this situation. The important result of this meeting is that it continues a dialogue between the City and us, the stakeholders.
III. SDMBA’s stance on the planned closure
a. SDMBA adamantly opposes the current plan to close off all recreational access to trails. We will work diligently with the City and the Wildlife Agencies to support a better alternative plan. Trail closures rarely work as intended, often resulting in negative consequences such as unauthorized trail building and use in previously unaffected areas.
b. SDMBA has successfully partnered with federal, state and city agencies that have strictly controlled land use restrictions, with the results being protected and rehabilitated habitat along with compatible recreational trails.
c. SDMBA believes an open discussion with all user groups and agencies involved will gain the more support and compliance compared to this unilateral approach that is being pushed on the City.
IV. What’s Next
a. September 18th – 7:00pm – SDMBA Monthly Advocacy Meeting at MTRP Visitor Center
i. SDMBA has invited Chris Zirkle to be our guest speaker and to provide more information about the issue.
ii. We will be asking Chris Zirkle to work with us to find a better alternative management plan that will best mitigate the consequences of the planned closure.
iii. The public is welcome at this meeting. We expect everyone to conduct themselves in a professional and respectful manner.
b. September 19th – 1:00pm – MTRP Task Force Meeting at MTRP Visitor Center
i. This meeting is also open to the public. More information on the Task Force can be viewed here.
ii. KTU+A: Planning and Landscape Architect Firm, will be providing an update on the MPU to the Task Force.
iii. SDMBA will have representatives present to request a forum between all user groups, stakeholders and agencies to determine a better course of action that will be mutually beneficial to the habitat, the park and the community of park users.
If you would like additional information, please attend this Wednesday's SDMBA Advocacy Meeting. Please also check our Facebook Page and look for another Special Edition TrailNews Alert for any updates.