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Vivian Creek Gate Issues

Howdy All  Smile

On Monday afternoon, I spoke to an awesome woman at the Mill Creek RS to confirm that: 1) Vivian creek trail was open and 2) gate would be unlocked at 6 AM. Sally, Marilyn and I got the last permit for Wednesday and headed up.

As Marilyn and Sally went to the bathroom, Alex walked up and identified himself as being with the Forest Service. He demanded to see our permit and we had a contentious conversation about improving access to the TH which held us up for about 15 minutes.

Key points of the conversation:

I asked whether he was a paid employee or volunteer and he said he was both.

I said I understood the problems with vandalism, etc. and that I was looking for a solution that would be suitable for everyone (e.g. a gate with a key code for hikers wanting to start before 6 AM). When I told him that I initiated the on-line petition to improve access to the TH -- he snorted and he discounted it as "a piece of paper that wouldn't get anyone's attention."

He went on to say that there were problems with unauthorized people getting past the locked gate. I asked how this was possible. He stated that former SGWA volunteers and former USFS employees had keys to the gate.

I noted that it was unfair to punish responsible individuals due to the actions of hoodlums -- he said just one person could ruin it for the other 99.

He said that he did not stop people with valid hiking permits who walked in before 6 AM.. When I asked where they parked, he said, "They walked up from Momyer."

Sally brought up the problems with the permit system. Since the ranger station is only open Thursday to Monday, permits for Tuesday and Wednesday are put out on Monday. Also, why base entry on number of permits (14 per day) rather than number of people?

He repeatedly interrupted us and asked us to "let him finish" his canned speech.

I question whether a paid gate keeper has the legal authority to demand my hiking permit. He also discredited the value of signatures on a petition -- I thought this was part of the democratic process in America. I will be filing a formal complaint with the Forest Service.

We pulled more pink tape off the Dobbs ridge. Carried microspikes but didn't need them. It was a beautiful day. The aspens between Halfway camp and the Vivian creek crossing are gorgeous right now.

I am resuming the effort to improve access to the Vivian creek trailhead and will continue to collect signatures on the petition below. I will also be contacting the forest service again since I have not heard back from anyone -- I'm sure the government shutdown didn't help.

Miles of smiles,

did he have a FS badge? If he did he's a "Green Shirt"

This patch would indicate a volunteer

It's a shame that "Alex" was so rude.  It really casts a poor light on the US Forest Service.  Don't they screen these guys?  Supervise them?


Letter to Forest Service

Howdy All,

My letter to the Forest Service:

Dear __________

My friends and I frequently hike in the San Gorgonio wilderness and were very disturbed to find that parking at the Vivian Creek trailhead is now restricted to the hours between 6 AM and 10 PM.

We understand that the decision to restrict access was to decrease vandalism in the Forest Falls picnic area. However, the gate restricts access to the Vivian Creek trailhead as well as the picnic area. Vivian Creek is the most popular trail in the San Gorgonio wilderness. The restricted access creates numerous safety concerns for hikers.

We have over 220 signatures to remove the locked gate:

We want to find a solution acceptable to Forest Falls residents, Forest Service, hikers and the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association.

Possible solutions:
1) Camp host opens gate earlier -- say 4 AM.
2) Issue gate codes to hikers who have wilderness permits and adventure passes. Such codes could change weekly.
3) Security cameras for license plates and visual identification of offenders.

Gate codes and/or security cameras may be more cost effective than a camp host.

We look forward to your timely response.

Miles of smiles,

Ellen Coleman


If you want to individually contact the US Forest Service about the locked gate at Vivian Creek TH, here are e-mail addresses:

Alfredo Zarate, Assistant Recreation Officer
Melinda Lyon, Recreation Officer
Gabe Garcia, District Ranger
Jody Noiron, Forest Supervisor
John Exline, Deputy Forest Supervisor

I will contact these individuals again. If I don't hear anything back within a reasonable time period (middle of next week), I will move up the chain of command to:

Randy Moore, Regional Forester
Tom Tidwell, Chief

for what it is worth CC-ing the US representative for the area may be of help in the background.

When I have had issues with the FS I have done this and while I didn't know if they where involved. Things seemed to happen when at other times it did not for the same issue

Howdy All  Smile  

I am very happy to report that have received a response to my electronic letter from Deputy Forest Supervisor John Exline regarding setting up a meeting with District Ranger Gabe Garcia, the hiking community and Forest Falls residents to discuss what can be done to meet everyone's needs.

Miles of smiles,

just an FYI- I have often found the San Gorgonio volunteers to be at best officious and at times fairly dripping with authoritarian attitude.

From the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association web site (

"There is no enforcement work done by volunteers. Volunteers perform as always friendly hosts to provide information and assistance to visitors and to keep trails and camping areas clean and in good repair."

Howdy All  Smile

After writing to Ranger Garcia regarding the Vivian Creek gate keeper, I received a reply:

I will follow up early in January.

Miles of smiles,
Ellen Forum Index -> News & Conditions
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