Marines warn bikers to stay off Miramar

The confusion over who's allowed in the area where the northwest part of Mission Trails meets the east end of U.S Marine Corps Air Station Miramar will now be cleared up by armed Marines taking bicyclists, hikers and other trespassers into custody, the Marine Corps confirmed Friday.

"We will take their bikes and hold them as evidence," said Lt. Gabriel Adibe, a Miramar Public Affairs officer.

The base met with San Diego Mountain Biking Association President Kevin Loomis this week and went over the Marines' concerns with open space users who knowingly or unknowingly trespass on the base land north of Highway 52 in the area known as East Elliot.

"The problem is there's people who are going on the base land, cyclists, runners, high school kids who are trespassing," Loomis said. "There's a rifle range and people are using the trail across the top of the hill, which means the Marines have to stop what they're doing at the range."

The rifle range in question certifies about 9,800 Marine Corps shooters each year, according to military documents. When cyclists pop up at the business end of the range, all shooting stops.

"When trespassers show up there it impedes training," Adibe said. "There are definitely signs out there that say don't go any farther — on patrol, I've seen folks stop, read them and then keep on going where they want anyway."

Loomis said he was invited for a tour because the Marines want to get the word out to the community that, from now on, there will be consequences.

"If you're caught up there, they're going to arrest you, handcuff you, take whatever equipment you have as evidence, write you a federal citation, and drop you at the gates. So, you'll need a ride back to your car," he said. The Marines told him that last week they arrested some high school kids at the missile silo on the northeastern part of the base.

People hiking and biking in the East Elliot area has been a sore issue with the Marine Corps, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the parks for a long time. The land is home to sensitive habitat, and the Marine Corps often uses its land in the area for environmental mitigation for projects done elsewhere on the base. Although there are no official trails, open space users carved out a network of trails, only to have them all closed under threat of prosecution in January 2014.

Park users are now working with the land agencies (excluding the Marines) to hammer out an updated trail master plan.

After the tour, Loomis posted the information about the Marines getting ready to enforce on their land through the group's social media and email lists.

Loomis blamed the alleged trespassing onto base property on the lack of legal trails in the adjoining land. The trails nearby are not well thought-out, he said.

"For example, the Castle Rock development has a trail that goes right up to the Marine base and ends," he said. "People end up creating 'social' trails if there are no trails."

The mountain bike association and Mission Trails user groups have been working on an updated master plan for the open space's trails, he said.

"We have two alternate trails that will alleviate the need to go on the base," he said, noting it is taking a long time. The process began 1-1/2 years ago. "The sooner we can get this, the quicker the problems on the Marine base go away."

The maximum penalties for trespassing on a military base is six months in jail or a $5,000 fine.

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Comments

People having been hiking back in there for years. You don't know it's prohibited until you get way in, to the military signs-- and then you're at the back end of the shooting range! Unfortunately, it is a great place to see horny toads (spiny lizards). They seem to be doing well back in there.

I don't like to see any reduction of hiking trails, but they could put up a fence, as they have with much of the military land. I don't imagine the horny toads would mind.

Serious fences and some strongly-worded signs should stop most of the trespassers. This threat of arrest and confiscation seems awfully heavy-handed, unless other measures don't work.

But, once again, I have to quibble about the headline. It refers to "bikers", when it doesn't apply to bikers, meaning motorcyclists, at all. The bikes in question here are mountain bicycles. The headline would be more accurate if it replaced the word "bikers" with "hikers." If you want to describe those who ride bicycles, nowadays we call them "cyclists."

Actually I was out there a few weeks ago and I encountered someone on a motorcycle. I was wondering if it was legal at the time. I suspected not.

Too bad that the headline is not referring to 'real' bikers. It would be so much fun to watch Bikers vs. Marines.

The Marines will have a problem prosecuting anyone if they do not fence and post so that it is clear that going past a certain definable point is trespassing.

All areas on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (including East Miramar) have always had signage addressing that to go beyond that point is TRESPASSING punishable by confiscation of equipment and incarceration (and in some areas deadly force is authorized). I know because I have put up those signs, REPEATEDLY!!! In one situation, only 2 days after the signs were put in at Gooden Ranch, 2 civilians were arrested using quads to pull the signs down. And again at Mission Trails while putting up signs, civilian personnel simply "walked" right past while we were putting them up. When asked what they were doing they stated they were "tax paying citizens" and that they "had the right to go onto government property". After clearly explaining they did not have that right they finally relented and left, but were spotted later that afternoon back on government property. You should understand that there are many inherent dangers to entering DOD properties; potential unexploded ordinance from past training uses of the property, live fire training in designated areas, venomous snakes, spiders and other wild animals, dangers of falls into ravines and culverts, entrapments, and abandon facilities that may contain unforeseen contaminants. The list is long but the potential of danger and injury does exist. All commenters, the cost for putting up signage is high enough but to completely fence in the property is completely cost prohibitive (and persons would simply cut the fence to gain entry anyway). And as for Sycamore Landfill, it is a privately owned property and company; the property boundaries of MCAS Miramar are clearly defined in public record and will not be changed to accommodate the future growth of their waste disposal facility. The federal government has no say so over the use of county properties unless it infringes on federal security issues. Perhaps the better thing would be for all persons to reduce the generation of their wastes and recycle more? Soon San Diego county wastes will require shipping to another county or even another state!I too have enjoyed the opportunities afforded our local areas park systems, but I also do RESPECT that property owners have the right (and responsibility) to limit persons from accessing their properties to prevent liabilities. Our society has become so litigious, that it seems everyone is looking for an excuse to sue anyone for anything; a stubbed toe, a trip and fall, any boo-boo even when it is their own fault in the first place. And who better than the federal government to bring a suit against, huh? The prevention of civilian personnel from accessing/hiking/biking East Miramar areas is not to prevent them from enjoying the environment; it is to protect them for their own indifference in risking their lives, and the lives of others. Please respect that. A Civilian Marine

MichaelRPenrod tells it like it is! I used to be a member of the Daley Ranch Volunteer Patrol and there is always a percentage of the public that thinks that they have the right to go wherever they want. It did not matter which trail user it was, hiker, mountain biker or equestrians. They would completely ignore signs and fences. Their usual response when caught would be "If they really wanted to keep people out, they should make a better fence." We would install signs and barricades and a week later they would be taken down or removed. Most times they would make a new trail around the sign or barricade. For all you trespassers out there; imagine that you are the owner of the land and someone trespasses and gets hurt. You then get sued by a lawyer and wins a judgement against you and takes your land away from you and your family. There is just too many self centered "I'm the only person that counts." attitude in our society today.

Where's Richard Nixon when we need him? Nixon made friends with surfers. Surfers stopped getting arrested on the beach in front of Nixon's house.

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