Snow visitors continued to overwhelm Idyllwild infrastructure on another busy weekend. Public recreation areas are limited. Public bathrooms are few. And even with a growing reputation for fine dining, restaurants can accommodate only so many.
The same was true of Humber Park’s ability to safely accommodate cars entering its parking lot. With schools closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day, the long weekend added an extra day for snow visitors to visit the Hill.
Humber Park’s lot was closed to incoming traffic midday Monday, Jan. 18, as ice and slush made parking difficult. A steady stream of incoming motorists parked where they could and prevented the safe flow of traffic throughout the lot.
Forest Service rangers struggled to assist motorists already in the lot to park in designated spaces. Forest Service Dispatcher David Raphael stated the reason for closing traffic access to the park was degradation of the parking lot, making it dangerous for traffic. “We’re trying to figure out how to plow slush and ice to make it safe and secure,” he said.
Prior to the recent closure, San Jacinto District Ranger Arturo Delgado spoke about protocols that could close the park to incoming traffic. “We would close access if our assessment is that traffic access would prove hazardous for the public and our employees,” he noted. “Also, if the park is being degraded, that could also result in administrative closure of the road into the park.”
Delgado explained that heavy snow weekends increase the need for communication with other law enforcement agencies —California Highway Patrol, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Caltrans. “Our jurisdiction ends at the forest boundary. These snow weekends give us an opportunity to retune our communication with other agencies, to coordinate with our appropriate partners to ensure public safety. We want visitors to enjoy the forest but we also expect them to respect the forest and leave no trace. We are all stewards.”
As of Tuesday morning, traffic access to Humber Park had reopened although sections of the lot still have residual slush and ice, according to the local ranger station.