Trail users protest proposal to limit access in state parks

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SAN DIEGO -- Concerned hikers, bikers and equestrians met with state park officials Wednesday to argue against new rules that could restrict their access to San Diego's two largest parks.

An overflow crowd packed the hearing room at the San Diego County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa for a public meeting with Alexandra Stehl, the Roads and Trails Manager for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Many feared that popular parts of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park would be place off limits by a proposed regulation change. The rule, as proposed by park officials in Sacramento, would prohibit off-trail access in cultural and natural preserves within state parks.

According to the Backcountry Horsemen of California, there are four cultural preserves in Cuyamaca Rancho and at least seven in the Anza Borrego park. State park officials say the idea is to protect important natural and cultural treasures. But local hikers, cyclists and horse riders who frequent the parks say the proposed rules are vague and could be used to prevent public access to these areas.

State officials listened for two hours to the concerns and told the crowd that they intend local park authorities to implement the new rules.

The final language of the rules have yet to be determined.