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Old 10-30-2008, 08:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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CA - Sandstone Canyon closed - Help!! Anza Borrego

This past weekend (10-25-08) I did some camping in the Fish Creek area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. This is a beautiful wash/slot canyon with many opportunities for camping. Hiking, climbing and wheeling. I know many of you, especially So-Cal have at one time or another wheeled in Fish creek or one of its tributaries.
On this trip we wanted to do some climbing and hiking in some of the off shoots of Sandstone Canyon, a tributary of the main Fish Creek wash. This long narrow canyon has always been very enticing to wheelers due to its beauty and technical nature.
Anyway, I drove several miles of wash to get to the canyon mouth only to find that it had just been closed. We could tell that the stakes had only been installed that morning or the day before because there were fresh tire tracks on both sides of the signs and stakes. We ended up hiking the canyon anyway, but didnít get as far as we would have liked because the canyon is a bit longer that a comfortable day hike. I have driven much farther back several times before, and it is a really enjoyable trail.

Ok, so what Iím wondering. Does anybody know if there is anything that can be done to reverse these kinds of things? I really want to go to the head ranger station and ask them why this canyon was closed to vehicles. Its not like there was any vegetation in there (or was ever any). Maybe because it is in a State Park, they have the sovereign right to close areas at will for no reason.
I was thinking that maybe CORVA might be some help. They might be wrapped up in bigger issues though.
How bout if we as a group bombard the ranger station with requests for a reopening and no more trail closers.
This is one reason why I get so absolutely pissed when I see 4wheelers not treading lightly, acting foolishly or not respecting the land. They are a big reason stuff gets closed.

Here are a couple pics just so you can see what it really is.


These are the worst signs ever.

:loser:




Just a couple from last time I was back in Sandstone Canyon.





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Old 10-30-2008, 09:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would ask first that you make a phone call to the Ranger Station and ask why it was closed. Ask if there is any supporting documentation for the closure, temporary orders, DEIS etc.

Bring what you find out back here and we will see what we can do to help.

And yes, there is so much happening right now all over the State, CORVA is busier than a one armed paper hanger, as are the rest of us.

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Old 10-30-2008, 09:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Uhhh, that is State Park, not federal.....

DEIS does not apply....that is a fderal action

The correct document is an EIR - Environmental Impact Report and more correctly, it would be the Anza Borrego General Management Plan.

A copy of the General Plan is available here: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21314

We managed to keep a few washes within ABDSP open. Many of the branches off Fish Creek were closed because they were dead-end canyons. And, most of ABDSP was classified as state wilderness.
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks.

Yea I'll try to get some real info from the ranger station on all this.
Anything else you think I should ask for.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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From reply to 15-20 comment from CARE

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No roads or trails are scheduled o be closed in the General Plan. The GP is general in nature, therefore, management plans for trails, roads, wilderness, and fire management will be put out for public review in the years following approval of the GP and will provide a more in-depth survey with regard to visitor uses and resource vitality.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The dead-end spurs off the main washes were (are) not defined as "roads or trails".

I am aware of three "roads or trails" that ended as closed because the subsequent decision process created large swaths of state wilderness. I would need to look at some old maps to verify, but Fish Creek Wash was maintained as a north-south through route while side canyons were closed due to the way wilderness boundaries were drawn.

Believe me, the ABDSP general plan was a very contentious battle about 4 years ago.
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Old 10-31-2008, 01:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ok here's a small update from today.

I called the main ranger station (760-767-5311) and talked to "Ranger Bob". He was very friendly but did not really have any clear info to give me.
He told me that the most likely cause of the new signs and stakes was that the dead end canyon eventually ended up in state wilderness area. He also said that it was most likely a re-closure and not a new closure. He figured that the canyon was supposed to be closed anyway, but the stakes had just been removed and never reinstalled. In his words, "the problem with these kind of canyons is that people in lifted 4x4's, usually with locking axles, tend to push the route farther and farther into the canyon just for a driving challenge".
I asked him if there had been any sort of EIR (Environmental Impact Report) done. He had no idea either way.

The best info I got from him was to call later in the week and talk to the supervising ranger, Paul Reisman. He said Reisman would be able to give us exact info as to why the canyon was closed, and if it was a new closure or a re-closure.
Another thing to watch out for is the brand new ranger they just hired to be assigned to the Fish Creek area. Bob told me the new ranger is a greenhorn and only started this week. New rangers are the worst for enforcing every little code in the rule book.

I think if it is a new closure we have more chance of possibly reversing it than it it was a re-closure.

One question I had for the rest of you. Have you been wheeling in the last few years? Does anyone know if it was ever closed off before? Also was there a closed sign a couple miles into the canyon where the wilderness boundary was?

Last edited by FirstGenTankota; 10-31-2008 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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SCUFF was in there recently. Justruns.com goes there a lot.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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When I was there on Saturday there was a group of older jeeps that tried to go but got truned arround by the signs.
They must have been some club because they all had flaming green skulls painted on thier doors.
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:11 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Are the signs right at the mouth off Fish?
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The actual "No vehicles" sign is maybe a mile or so off Fish creek. It is just where the canyon splits and starts to narrow down a little.
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Old 11-01-2008, 11:27 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I've been out there about a half dozen times over the last few years and never seen a sign in that location. Doesn't mean there wasn't ever a sign placed there before. I could see it not lasting very long in its current location with a few heavy rains. This just Sucks again....
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I was up there on October, 11 and no signs were posted. I was up past that spot several times over the last five years and there were never any signs there. The finger canyon just before that spot that went to the right (on the way in) had the same signage, wonder of a rock hugger moved them?
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Old 11-03-2008, 02:00 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I just got an email from a JustRuns guy and he said it's open as far back as you can go with no signs. Wonder if they had them in the wrong place and they got moved...?
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:20 PM   #16 (permalink)
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JR guy (Michael) emailed the Supervising State Park Ranger at the park, here is the response.

Quote:
The official park position. I have to commend Mr. Reisman for his
prompt response. Thank you.

Michael,

Thank you for asking about Sandstone Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert
State Park. As you seem to have been there, you can appreciate the
awesome beauty of this area. The canyon is not closed. Over the
years the park has been open, the end of the driven portion of the
canyon has often changed according to environmental conditions.
Signs were put in to limit how far vehicles may travel but the canyon
is still open for driving through some of the most beautiful steep
wall sandstone canyons around. Toward the upper end of the canyon,
signs were placed to limit vehicles. As flooding has further eroded
the sand at the floor of the canyon, people with vehicles have driven
further up on the sides of the walls. I am sure, if you have been
there, you have seen the black color of rubber on the sandstone
walls. The state park has a responsibility to preserve the pristine
nature of the lands under its control the best we can and the black
rubber tire marks do not belong there and are unsightly.

Paul Reisman
Supervising State Park Ranger
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
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