Let’s do the math on this.
I will preface this by saying that contrary to popular belief, a number of trail impact studies consistently find that cyclists have equal or less of an ‘impact factor’ than that of hikers, and far less than equestrians. http://www.imba.com/resources/science/index.html
Single-track bike trails, like those in Deer Canyon, average maybe 3 ft wide, and yes although this may be slightly wider than the original migrant walking trails, expansion is limited to the current size. So then, how many feet of trails approximately comprise the final plans proposed by SDMBA (SDMBA.com) and MTC (Multi-use Trail Colilition)?
Calculate the overall 'trail' area vs the overall ‘total’ area of Deer Canyon, etc. What percent will be used by trails?
Furthermore, as the only trails accepted in the final trail proposals were careful not to impede into environmentally sensitive areas, what can be considered the actual 'impact factor' to the region should the proposals be accepted, taking into account the above calculation?
As I suspect the total burden implied by the % area compounded by a very low impact factor on the environmentally sensitive areas would be quite small. So, how does it weigh against allowing or forbidding public access to the area?
What if we add to this the fact that SDMBA and MTC are established stewards of the land that organize volunteer trail maintenance and care for the parks throughout San Diego? And if we compound with this the fact that there will be several cyclists patrolling the area, and yes we are very protective and concerned about the care and maintenance of this preserve? It was one such cyclist that took the pictures and alerted the Rangers of the tree cutting in Deer Canyon by vandals. Had he not been there, the damage would very likely have been far, far worse by the time the authorities discovered it.
The other alternative is fencing the area off and forbidding public access. This has proven to not be a successful approach for the environment. Poachers will cut the fences and trespass. Unfortunately, this is apparent in the neglect of the ‘vernal pool’ area where dumped garbage, dirt bikes, 4x4s and parties did, and may still, frequent the area and damage the habitat. A less frequented, off-limits area would also be permissive for migrants to transiently inhabit the area again. It is an impossible job for the limited Ranger staff to care for the main park area and still patrol the borders of this large preserve.
These issues should be what the public and those who will determine the outcome of this area weigh into their evaluations. — December 18, 2008 2:25 p.m.