4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Border Patrol declares foul

County parks trail improvements include obstacles

As a finishing touch to an $8.4 million project next to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, the county is installing low poles called bollards down the middle of trails and putting gates across the entrances to some of them.

“Those things are going to make it harder and more dangerous for us to do our job,” says National Border Patrol Council spokesman Gabe Pacheco, with Local 1613. “And we’re going to get injured.”

The telephone pole obstacle
Illustration of the potential hazard of mid-road bollards

Pacheco, an active-duty Border Patrol agent, was speaking as the union’s certified safety officer. He said federal agents at the Imperial Beach station have already had to take illegal crossers to the hospital after they were injured by some of the telephone poles and rebar placed in the brush atop the mesas. County contractors put the obstacles in as part of the closing off of the trails.

The county park project is based on a plan and environmental impact report that was completed and approved in 2006. At the time, the Border Patrol reviewed and signed off on it.

The plan is meant to consolidate about 70 miles of official and unofficial trails into 22.5 miles of trail for horses, bikes, and people, including new trails on the high mesa east of Smuggler’s Gulch.

But, Pacheco said, the 2006 plan didn’t include placing dozens of bollards down the middle of the dirt trails the Border Patrol uses the most and fencing off entire sections of new trail.

“These things are dangerous — when we’re in pursuit, the vehicles kick up a lot of dirt. We have visibility problems in fog and at night,” said Pacheco. “Put that all together and it’s a matter of time before our agents get hurt for trying do their jobs,” he said.

Mike Verderber, the supervising park ranger at the park, said the bollards have white paint at the top and reflectors attached to them for safety.

“The philosophy of the bollards would be that would define the park and recreation side of the road and define an area for the Border Patrol to continue their dragging,” Verderber said in a message. “We’re going to provide them with a map of the bollards.”

Equestrians and hikers have a mixed reaction to the bollards. The Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association has not reached a consensus on them. Some riders feel the bollards mean Border Patrol agents will drive slower and their horses are less likely to be frightened. Others say that if the horses are frightened, the bollards become a danger to the horse and rider as well.

New fences and bollards also block access to areas where many of the illegal crossers are caught, Pacheco said. And the county has installed iron gates to block vehicles across at least two entrances to the trails north of Monument Road.

“There are places now where an agent will either have to drive a half mile around or chase groups on foot,” Pacheco said. “Imperial Beach has a high percentage of felons deported from U.S. prisons coming back across here and we don’t have a minute to spare — they need just a little advantage and they can get to I.B. or San Ysidro or to the pick-up point, and they’ve gotten though.”

The county’s costs for maintaining roads and trails in the area are higher than usual because of the Border Patrol’s traffic and its practice of “dragging” the roads with tires several times a day to wipe them clean of old footprints and tire marks so they can track new traffic.

Pacheco acknowledges that the agents make a mess doing their job but says that the local station worked with the state park, recently completing a project to fill and repair the roads they use in that park.

“It’s ironic that we have made this park safe for more people to come here and their response is to make our job more difficult and put our people in harm’s way,” he said.

The author is a regular hiker in the Tijuana River Valley state and county parks and appreciates the efforts of both the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Robert Penn Warren: youngest of the Fugitives

Prolific poet and author of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All the King’s Men
Next Article

Cold Turkey for Thanksgiving

The first feature to feature flatulence

As a finishing touch to an $8.4 million project next to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, the county is installing low poles called bollards down the middle of trails and putting gates across the entrances to some of them.

“Those things are going to make it harder and more dangerous for us to do our job,” says National Border Patrol Council spokesman Gabe Pacheco, with Local 1613. “And we’re going to get injured.”

The telephone pole obstacle
Illustration of the potential hazard of mid-road bollards

Pacheco, an active-duty Border Patrol agent, was speaking as the union’s certified safety officer. He said federal agents at the Imperial Beach station have already had to take illegal crossers to the hospital after they were injured by some of the telephone poles and rebar placed in the brush atop the mesas. County contractors put the obstacles in as part of the closing off of the trails.

The county park project is based on a plan and environmental impact report that was completed and approved in 2006. At the time, the Border Patrol reviewed and signed off on it.

The plan is meant to consolidate about 70 miles of official and unofficial trails into 22.5 miles of trail for horses, bikes, and people, including new trails on the high mesa east of Smuggler’s Gulch.

But, Pacheco said, the 2006 plan didn’t include placing dozens of bollards down the middle of the dirt trails the Border Patrol uses the most and fencing off entire sections of new trail.

“These things are dangerous — when we’re in pursuit, the vehicles kick up a lot of dirt. We have visibility problems in fog and at night,” said Pacheco. “Put that all together and it’s a matter of time before our agents get hurt for trying do their jobs,” he said.

Mike Verderber, the supervising park ranger at the park, said the bollards have white paint at the top and reflectors attached to them for safety.

“The philosophy of the bollards would be that would define the park and recreation side of the road and define an area for the Border Patrol to continue their dragging,” Verderber said in a message. “We’re going to provide them with a map of the bollards.”

Equestrians and hikers have a mixed reaction to the bollards. The Tijuana River Valley Equestrian Association has not reached a consensus on them. Some riders feel the bollards mean Border Patrol agents will drive slower and their horses are less likely to be frightened. Others say that if the horses are frightened, the bollards become a danger to the horse and rider as well.

New fences and bollards also block access to areas where many of the illegal crossers are caught, Pacheco said. And the county has installed iron gates to block vehicles across at least two entrances to the trails north of Monument Road.

“There are places now where an agent will either have to drive a half mile around or chase groups on foot,” Pacheco said. “Imperial Beach has a high percentage of felons deported from U.S. prisons coming back across here and we don’t have a minute to spare — they need just a little advantage and they can get to I.B. or San Ysidro or to the pick-up point, and they’ve gotten though.”

The county’s costs for maintaining roads and trails in the area are higher than usual because of the Border Patrol’s traffic and its practice of “dragging” the roads with tires several times a day to wipe them clean of old footprints and tire marks so they can track new traffic.

Pacheco acknowledges that the agents make a mess doing their job but says that the local station worked with the state park, recently completing a project to fill and repair the roads they use in that park.

“It’s ironic that we have made this park safe for more people to come here and their response is to make our job more difficult and put our people in harm’s way,” he said.

The author is a regular hiker in the Tijuana River Valley state and county parks and appreciates the efforts of both the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Amazon’s Bezos gives Institute $30 million to find “cure” for ailing climate

Salk It To ‘Em
Next Article

How Nature Lovers Survive Covid on Mt. Whoville, Evanescence Live from Rock Falcon Studio, Holiday Music, Crafts, Food and Photos

Events December 3-December 5, 2020
Comments
6

Of course the conservative politicos want the Border Patrol to have a hard time because they want to continue to allow the flow of cheap labor to keep wages low in San Diego.

Feb. 21, 2015

This is a tempest in a teapot. This Border Patrol officer has a small beef with the parks people and he goes public with it. So sad, too bad. If the BP officers would get out on foot more of the time, they'd probably be more effective. But it's more comfortable to stay with the car or SUV, and cruise up and down the same roads and trails day after day.

Feb. 21, 2015

Common sense should lead you to believe that vehicles are used to respond to incidents in a timely manner and gain the upper hand without exhausting the officer before he/her can take direct action towards the suspect. Your comments are degrading and lack perspective.

Feb. 21, 2015

Bingo! I knew that someone would take vigorous offense at my criticism of cops. "Degrading?" If you say so. Actually I'm a supporter of law enforcement of all kinds. But there are times when things get said that just don't hold up, and this was one of those times.

Feb. 21, 2015

I have volunteered in that area numerous times. Border Patrol's concern is entirely legitimate. It is a maze of dangerous paths through a forest once you breach the initial 'separation zone'. 'Degrading' because you imply our Border Patrol agents would rather complain about an insignificant problem rather than just do their job.

Feb. 27, 2015

When was the last time you tried to chase someone on foot in that area? And how do you plan to take the large group back? You are showing your ignorance here.

Feb. 21, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close