Mesa Preserve resource management plan recommendation delayed

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) was expected to give its final recommendation on the Del Mar Mesa Preserve’s resource management plan at its meeting March 18, but voted to delay its decision as trail alternatives are still being considered by two resource agencies.

The trails, known affectionately to users as the “tunnels,” are single-track trails that wind around under a canopy of brush. Two of the five tunnel trails in the Mesa were included in the plan, but a request was made to include an additional tunnel instead of the alternative, an SDG&E service road.

The CAC’s special meeting, held Feb. 24, prompted the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider including one of the “tunnels” in the plan and a better east-west trail connection.

The east-west connection was left out of the southeast corner of the preserve in the plan because the California Department of Fish and Game did not want to allow any trails through a sensitive vernal pool habitat. On Feb. 24, users said the plan might work better if people are provided some kind of link in that portion of the preserve.

The CAC’s next meeting will be held May 20 at which time it will likely make a recommendation on the resource management plan. By that time, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board and the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board may also have weighed in on the plan before it gets its final approval by the San Diego City Council at a date yet to be determined.

New board members added

On Thursday, March 18, the CAC voted to fill three at-large member positions. There were five candidates for three positions and the winners in a close vote were Mike Maio with 8 votes, Geoff Smith with 8 votes and Minette Ozaki with 6 votes. Ozaki tied fellow candidate Rod Simmons with 6 votes, but Simmons withdrew his name.

Maio and Ozaki both come from the mountain biking community. Del Mar native Ozaki is a former president of the San Diego Mountain Bike Association. Maio is a longtime hiker, biker and preserve activist, having organized a clean-up last spring that removed an enormous amount of trash out of the tunnels.

The incumbent Smith is a former CAC chair with more than 18 years of experience on the committee.

Erik Basil also received a nomination to return to his at-large seat but he declined.

Member responsibility discussed

Since a November board meeting, an issue has been repeatedly discussed by the CAC about member responsibility after member Bunny Clews admitted in a meeting that she rode her horse off the trail in the Del Mar Mesa. While some have said that Clews and other equestrians cut a new trail in the preserve, Clews has stated several times that she went off trail for safety reasons because mountain bikes come barreling down the trail.

“I do not willfully flaunt the rules of this park and I will not break my neck because some bicycles are speeding,” Clews said.

New member Minette Ozaki said she thinks it is very important that CAC members not only advocate responsible trail use but serve as good examples, as well.

“I’d like to see all CAC members accept the responsibility of holding a leadership role in the community,” said Ozaki.

Vice chair Anne Harvey said it’s very important to educate the public about proper trail use. She said they are always fighting misinformation, such as one rider who thought horses could ride anywhere because their hooves are similar to that of the native deer.

Harvey said rule one is to stick to the designated trails, not to go off and create new pathways in undisturbed habitat.