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RMWD Discusses Water Access and Cedar Creek Trailhead Reopening

Sheriff's Lt. Bovet and Cal Fire Battalion Chief Burke Kremensky lead a discussion on the re-opening of Cedar Creek Falls and the cost to the community.

With 32 rescues last year and already 24 rescues this year, plus a fatality, the trailhead to Cedar Creek Falls remains an issue for our local first responders.

Ramona Fire Department/Cal Fire Battalion Chief Burke Kremensky told the water board at Tuesday's bimonthly that though Cedar Creek is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, rescues fall upon both the San Diego Sheriff's Department and San Diego Rural Fire.

"ASTREA ends up flying [rescues] out and Cal Fire transports them," Kremensky told the board.

Kremensky also stated that 67 percent of the rescues are due to heat-related injuries.

"The sheriff's department has done a good job at closing down the trailhead on our side," Kremensky said, "But people go through the Julian side."

According to Kremensky, a lot of people don't bring enough water with them on their hikes. Currently, no water is provided at the trailheads on either side.

Ramona Municipal Water District General Manager David Barnum said the district has offered to provide water at the trailhead on the Ramona side, but that it still needs approval from San Diego LAFCO.

"The trail itself is outside our fire area," Barnum said. "We need a five-party agreement for water at the trailhead."

New Sheriff's Lt. James Bovet told the water board that an ad-hoc committee has been formed to help solve the problem of frequent rescues, which cost the sheriff's department and fire agencies money each time a rescue is performed.

"We're trying to find a way to keep people safe down there," Bovet said. "And a way to pay for it."

Kremensky said at some Cedar Creek rescues, Station 81 has to make an hour and a half commitment away from the community to transport the victim down to Pomerado Hospital in Escondido.

Board member Darrell Beck said that the arrangement between the nationally-owned land and our local agencies is an unfair one.

"This land isn't generating any revenue and we're getting stuck with the bill," Beck said. "The problem we have is to make sure our stations aren't uncovered."

Board President Bryan Wadlington also expressed distaste for the unnecessary services our local fire station has to provide due to rescues at Cedar Creek.

"I don't think the people of Ramona are getting a fair share out of this," Wadlington said. "I can't believe this is going on under our noses."

Barnum said for now, what's most important is informing the public on the dangers of the trail.

"I think what's critical in this is that you (the water board) and public is informed," Barnum said. "We are trying to provide critical water at the trailhead."

The trailhead remains closed since the death of a hiker last summer at the Falls. The hike is accessed from Thornbush Road in San Diego Country Estates. Access from the Julian side re-opened in March.

"While this trail is closed, there is still a great deal of activity," Barnum said. "There's only so much to go around (resource-wise)."

U.S. Forest Services anticipates the opening the trailhead in early 2013.

"There's a real risk going down there," Bovet said of the trail. "It's not all fun and games."

Happy October 27, 2012 at 04:39 PM
People need to take resonsibility for their own actions! If they need help (often because they didn't bring enough water or were walking in their flip flops), bill them for the cost of rescue. Do not provide water at the site! Between theft and liability issues, nothing good can come of that!
Jacque Sherman October 28, 2012 at 02:20 PM
This is the nanny state at it's worst. Post a sign of the dangers and recommendations and let the hikers know that they go at their own risk. You can't fix stupid with regulation. Do not provide water, let the people be responsible for themselves. What happens they day the water is all gone, then is Ramona responsible for injuries. The government needs to get out of the way!!!!!
Teresa Hanvey November 05, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Open the Fricken Trail!!! My god you can't not save the world.

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