The California Highway Patrol San Gorgonio Pass Station has joined with the Idyllwild Fire Department and the Idyllwild Snow Group to create an educational video for off-Hill visitors who flock to Idyllwild during heavy snow incidents primarily to play in the snow.
The video is a further indication that law enforcement is committed to addressing the trash, trespassing and traffic obstruction issues off-Hill visitors cause, who come to Idyllwild to play in snow — wherever they can find it, whether on public or private land.
As pointed out by IFPD Chief Patrick Reitz, Idyllwild has no “designated” snow play areas as do mountain resorts in the San Bernardino Mountains. Reitz did mention other areas that snow visitors could use, including the state and county parks, where special fees could be charged.
Idyllwild Snow Group head Marsha Kennedy noted her group puts out fliers during snow events and has two online presences (a website — idyllwildsnow.com and a Facebook page for Idyllwild locals) that identify six places snow visitors can go that do not lead to trespassing and conflict with private home and land owners.
Included are the ones Reitz cited (adding the Nature Center as part of the county park) plus McCall Park in Mountain Center, Hurkey Creek Park near Lake Hemet and Thousand Trails in Pine Cove.
Thousand Trails is a private RV park but, according to Kennedy, management welcomes snow visitors.
“We’re working with the county to get signage for those areas identifying them as snow play locations,” said Kennedy.
In the video, CHP Officer Graham Aanestad advised visitors to obey speed limits, not to park in designated winter “no parking” areas and not to enter the forest when it’s closed.
CHP said it is committed to being “out there” in force in Idyllwild during snow events to “aggressively enforce” trespassing complaints on private property and blocking of roads such as Fern Valley Road, a snow play thoroughfare plagued by illegal parking during snow emergencies. Regarding trash, Aanestad advised, “If you pack it in, pack it out. If trash cans are full, take it with you.”
On request from CHP Pass Station Commander Capt. Mike Alvarez, Kennedy forwarded photos and videos of traffic congestion, blocked highways, trash from snow visitors and other issues caused by the visitors in 2017.
She also noted that, contrary to some public voices, the visitors do not contribute to the financial health of the town. “They don’t shop,” she said, noting that snow-play visitors generally bring their own food. She also cited the many complaints from private land and home owners in Fern Valley and elsewhere of snow-play visitors using homeowner land and yards for bathrooms.
“I do think the video will promote safety for snow events,” she said. She also noted the growing reach of the Snow Group’s website and Facebook page. “In January 2018, our website had 6,555 hits and in November of 2018, we had 18,418 hits, she noted. “In January 2018, our daily average hits were 211; in November, 1,713. We’re getting the word out about snow safety in Idyllwild by sharing with sites in Hemet including Hemet Valley News and Hemet News (Official Page) and Hemet Eye News Public Group on Facebook.”