Its been a little over three years now since I helped author the program to allow events to take place within the boundaries of the San Dieguito River Park and man what a roller coaster it has been. While I do admit that in the beginning it was more a way of generating monies for the park that had been taken away by the City's budget issues than anything else, it has grown into much more than just that. I feel that I have been able to create a small but unstable bridge between the meeting the parks goals and the needs and wants of an ever expanding community of riders and runners. But it's not without it's issues.
I like the fact that I can help people come together in a natural setting by holding events, I like participating in events, I like sharing what I think is a great resource (the river park) and I like the joy that the events bring to all the people attending them. But what I don't like are some of the underlying attitudes that come with them.
These attitudes manifest themselves in different ways, some seem to think its OK to tell you one thing then do another. The old adage of "It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission." happens too often to ignore. In actuality it only makes it harder for the next guy to hold an event.
Some seem to think it's OK to change features within the park or open space to accommodate what they perceive are lesser skilled individuals. They sanitize the trail by taking out rocks and other features or haphazardly fill in areas they deem to be problems, again without asking permission from the land owner. Now they have not only made it harder on the next guy to hold an event but they have also managed to make it less enjoyable for all those people that frequent the area on a regular basis. More times than not this renegade trail work actually makes things more dangerous.
Others seem to forget who and where they are. They obliviously believe that the money they spent to participate in the event and the mere fact that they're part of an "official" function gives them the permission to run roughshod over the land and not feel bad about it later.
Like I said I love being able to do events, but when I see the blatant disregard for the environment it causes me to pause and question my motives. This is where I and others work and play, I have dedicated countless hours to try and make everyone's experience an enjoyable one, and most importantly I am trying to preserve and enhance that experience for generations to come. I know my situation is not a new or unique one, I see other areas dealing with the same issues.
Merriam defines an "advocate" as a person who upholds and defends a cause, to speak, plead or argue in favor of. I consider myself to be both an advocate of the natural resources of the park and the trails that reside within, as well as for the enjoyment of said park by both the individual and the masses. It would be a lot easier to be one side of the fence or the other, but for me I believe it's crucial to walk down the middle of the fence and chance having the proverbial shoe thrown at me by a mean ol' man. Play by the rules and I'll be right there with you if anything should happen, side step them or ignore them and nobody wins. Hopefully with education and patience we can continue to walk this road together because I don't even want to think about the flip side.
I want to thank everyone I have met and worked with over the years that have made these events so successful and to all the support for the San Dieguito River Park shown by so many people. Thank you and keep up the good work. See everyone on the trails.