Monday, November 18, 2013

Cuyamaca College to enforce restrictions on use of nature preserve

Cuyamaca College has begun to enforce restrictions on use of a nature preserve at the Rancho San Diego campus that has been a popular – but illegal – spot for young bike riders.

A young biker flies over the dirt mounds at the nature preserve.
The mounds will be removed soon.
The area off Fury Road has long been used by bikers who created dirt mounds that enabled them to perform their daredevil tricks. The college is closing the area, part of a sensitive wildlife habitat, while it removes the bumps and replants vegetation to restore the area to its natural state.

College President Mark J. Zacovic and other college leaders met with about 50 bikers Saturday afternoon to explain why they could no longer ride their bikes there.

“We need to be responsible and follow the rules of state agencies to keep this as a habitat,” Zacovic told the group.

The area, about four acres, is part of a 53-acre nature preserve on the campus that was set aside in 1994 as mitigation for construction of college buildings. It is also a breeding area for the gnatcatcher bird, an endangere
Cuyamaca College student trustee Elsa Hernandez
speaks to bikers at the preserve
d species. Only hiking trails are allowed in the preserve, and the trails already in place in the rest of the preserve remain open.

The dirt mounds used by the bikers have been in existence for at least a decade, but no action was taken while college officials focused on educating almost 10,000 students each year.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife recently notified the college that the dirt mounds needed to be removed and the preserve restored.

On Tuesday, the college posted “No Trespassing” signs along Fury Road, along with a telephone number to Zacovic’s office.  Zacovic provided pizza and soft drinks to the group while they discussed the issue.

Cuyamaca College President Mark J. Zacovic speaks to the group.
Several bikers complained that they had no other place to test their skills, and college leaders urged them to organize and seek other property to use. Zacovic complimented the bikers on keeping the area clean and free of trash through the years.

The mounds will be removed in the next few weeks. Eventually, hiking trails will be created that will link with other trails in the preserve.

“I look forward to the day when we can we can reopen this area to the public,” Zacovic said. “This preserve is a wonderful natural resource for our community.”