After reading two articles in The Indy about the growing popularity of mountain biking and pedestrian usage in the Laguna Beach wilderness, I feel that it is important that we do much more to manage and preserve this precious, “hard won” natural green belt from overuse and abuse.
The entrance to the wilderness at the north end of Alta Laguna Boulevard and the Top of the World water reservoir at the Evelyn Wood Knoll has become a very popular destination for tourists, hikers, bikers, drinkers, smokers, partiers.
I have lived on Park Avenue and hiked with my dog almost daily in this area for about 14 years and the increase in use is frightening. The trails are being ravaged by bicycle use. Where there used to be narrow footpaths edged by natural flora, there are now 10-foot wide bicycle freeways devoid of all living things. I won’t even get into the concern that there is great potential for serious bicycle/pedestrian accidents because the mountain bikers race down the hill at such high speeds.
People come up late at night to drink and smoke and party. The park is supposed to close at sunset and yet in the morning we find evidence in the form of fast food trash, empty beer bottles and cans, cigarette butts, used condoms, broken glass, vandalism, graffiti and even remains of fire.
I believe social media has spread the word that Laguna Beach Top of the World is the place to go and no one will stop you from doing whatever you want. People are coming here from all areas of California and beyond.
The city apparently has granted control of the park to the county. The county says they are understaffed and have no intention of dedicating additional funding to the management of this area. The recent front page articles about “Mountain Biking Going Viral” in the March 20 and March 27 editions by Randy Kraft spoke of the popularity of the mountain biking but did not say enough about the environmental impact and concerns of such heavy use. The city of Newport Beach would never allow such abuse to their precious wilderness. I can’t understand why the city of Laguna Beach is allowing such vagrant misuse of this precious resource.
We are a wealthy and environmentally sensitive community and we need to find a way to manage and preserve this precious resource before it is too late.
Barbara Brown, Laguna Beach