Red Rocks State Park Seeks Illegal Road Closures 8//5/2019

 

State Parks closed the Nightmare Gulch 4x4 route in Red Rocks over 5 years ago in 2013 under a temporary closure order supposedly due to a mudslide.

Parks Director Russ Dingman has stonewalled the public for years, claiming information could not be released about the closure. It turns out this was not true. Based on their documentation, that had to be acquired under a public information request, they appear to have no justification for their 2013 closure.
 
They have turned away volunteers who wished to help fix any problems, so the route could be reopened. It turns out the route is not really blocked after all.

Nightmare Gulch is one of the last designated 4x4 routes in this kind of area. We cannot afford to lose this important motorized family recreation opportunity.
 
Stewards have been attending meetings and filing legal comments on behalf of our members in order to keep Red Rocks historic 4x4 routes open to all.

You can read Stewards comment letters and State Parks reluctant and their unhelpful replies below-

  • Stewards letter of concern 8/2/2017 HERE
  • State Parks reply 11/14/2017 HERE
  • Stewards letter of concern 11//27/2017 HERE
  • State Parks reply 7/17/2018 HERE
  • Stewards follow up letter of concern 8/3/2018 HERE
  • Stewards comments about the Red Rocks Park Plan HERE

MORE BACKGROUND-

Nightmare Gulch, Last Chance Canyon, Cudahay and other closures appear to be attempts by some State Park Staff to push Off Roaders out of the Red Rocks area where they have historically recreated.

In 2017 Stewards contacted Superintendent Russ Dingman to ask about the status of routes and if proper procedures had been followed for closures.
 
Dingman stated that NIghtmare Gulch has been under temporary closure since 2013. We think that is an awful long time for a temporary closure. When asked why Nightmare Gulch was closed Dingman said it was a public safety issue caused by a rock slide. We asked what was being done to fix it and he stated that was not public information. When asked for copies of the closure orders he said those were internal documents that could not be released to the public. That he wished he could provide the information, but it was above his pay grade. That he was just as frustrated about this as we are.

Over the years OHV groups like Bakersfield Trailblazers and Ridgecrest Geargrinders have offered to fix any problems on the trail, but Superintendent Dingman repeatedly turned them away.

Stewards requested any and all documentation from State Parks head office regarding the Nightmare Gulch. Within a few weeks we received all the things Superintendent Dingman said could not be given to the public, confirming our concerns that Superintendent Dingman is not being honest or doing his job properly.

We discovered there was one email from a private individual that 4x4's had crushed desert tortoises on the trail. As a result State Parks spent $48,000 on a study which determined Nightmare Gulch was not even suitable habitat for Desert Tortoise or Mojave Ground Squirrels. Seems State Park specialists could have figured that without wasting $48,000.

There is no documentation from the now 5 year temporary closure of Dingman or Parks Staff having reviewed the closure or considered any way to reopen the trail. They seem focused on spending money on pointless studies, ignoring volunteers and locking the public off their lands.

Stewards sent a letter to State Parks Director Lisa Magnat explaining our concerns and asking that Nightmare Gulch Trail be reopened and that Superintendent Dingman be replaced with someone who can manage an area instead of foisting more illegal closures on the public. Director Mangat has not replied.
 
Stewards continues to be engaged in the new Red Rocks Park Plan and have submitted comments pointing out the need to keep historic 4x4 routes like Nightmare Gulch open to historic motorized use.