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Locked Gates Don’t Stop Some From Campgrounds, Trails

Gates and “closed” signs aren’t stopping some people from using recreation areas off Paradise Road.

The Lower Santa Ynez Recreation area has been closed since Oct. 3, shutting out the public from campgrounds and day use areas.

“This was frustrating, because we didn’t know. I don’t think we put two and two together that this was a federal park,” said Tim McIntyre.

McIntyre and a few of his friends were disappointed to see a closed sign that led to the trails they planned to ride mountain bikes on. But they didn’t let the gate get in the way, and spent the day riding anyway.

There weren’t many people out there.

“Just us and a guy on a moped that could get around the gate,” said McIntyre.

“We stay on the trails. They’re pretty well-known hiking and biking trails. We’ll do that. We won’t cut any locks, we won’t cut any barbed wire. You know, we play by the rules,” he said.

Others who saw the signs weren’t so daring and turned back around.

“Yeah, a little bummed out. Last time we came here there was a fire so this area was closed. So now we’re 0 for 2 and I think maybe we’ll never come back here,” said Tim Vanderhoof.

Vanderhoof and his wife along with their daughter are from Glendale and hoped to spend the day in the Los Padres National Forest.

For Chris Carney, she wasn’t the only one disappointed. Her dogs were hoping for a hike.

“I don’t know, I guess we’re going to have to go back around the other way and see if we can find something to do,” she said.

The road that leads to popular areas like Red Rock and Upper Oso was blocked by a gate with two new locks. Twice over the weekend, people broke the locks to get down the road.

But if the locks didn’t deter some people, tickets might.

A fine for just one person can be up to $5,000 for entering the restricted area.

“With that fine, I don’t know what we’re going to do today,” said Jodi Pieschel, with her husband Mike.

It’s not clear if the Forest Service cited anyone because the agency’s office is also closed during the shutdown. However, rangers are working and if they do find people beyond the gates, they could hand out a hefty fine.

It’s not just the campgrounds and trails that are closed. All the day-use grills were wrapped in yellow caution tape, to deter anyone who might want to barbecue.

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