Local News

Friday, May 07 2010 02:47 PM

Officials work to remove nail-studded devices from Pacific Crest Trail

BY STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer sswenson@bakersfield.com

Efforts to clear nail-studded booby traps and barbed wire from the Pacific Crest Trail near Tehachapi were expected to be completed by Friday afternoon, the Kern County Sheriff's Department reported.

The clean-up by the Bureau of Land Management came after a hiker on Thursday reported the hazards on the crest of the trail about eight miles from Tehachapi, deputies said.

Officers from the BLM, the sheriff's department and the U.S. Forest Service inspected the site, the sheriff's department reported. They found 50 nail-studded devices that looked like nails sticking up from a cement mold made in a plastic cup.

The hiker's report was not the first time dangerous conditions were noted on the trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada.

Mesonika Piecuch, spokeswoman for ORV Watch Kern County, said her group reported similar problems in November to the U.S. Forest Service, and KERO-Channel 23 did a news story on it.

She said she was very happy the clean-up was being accomplished Friday.

Sheriff's Sgt. Richard Wood said there have been ongoing problems between private property owners in the area and illegal off-road vehicles, especially motorcycles. He said he believed the dangerous control methods -- the nails, the barbed wire and notices of a shooting range -- were aimed at off-road vehicles, not hikers and pack animals.

He noted the barbed wire stretched across the path -- which has since been removed -- would snare a motorcyclist, but allow a hiker to go underneath.

Wood said that because of damage by vehicles, the exact trail boundaries are not well-defined in that area. That too is being rectified by work crews expected in coming weeks, he said.

But in the meantime, investigators will try to determine who is responsible for the nail devices and whether they were buried on the trail easement or private property.

What would be illegal on the trail may not necessarily be illegal on private property, he said.

The trail is well marked with signs banning off-road vehicle use.

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