GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bad news: the Bud Light Riders return

Hansen Dam basin; Little Tujunga cuts perpendicular to the freeway at center of photo.
Little Tujunga Wash in the north east San Fernando Valley is the most heavily used equestrian access from Hansen Dam Recreational Area into the National Forest. The main trail through the canyon takes riders from the Hansen Dam basin to trails accessing the Doc Larsen loop, Rattlesnake trail, and Kagel and Marek Canyons to name a just a few.  Beyond those lie historic National Forest trails for the hardcore riders.

Although it was heavily impacted by soil erosion from the Station and Marek Fires, the Little Tujunga Wash has recovered quickly. Wildlife big and small have depended on this beautiful oasis for survival since these fires, with deer and bobcat sightings now almost the norm rather than a rare treat. It wasn't too long ago that from the relative safety of my horse's back I had the honor of watching a mother bobcat and two cubs work their way through a section of this canyon.

Water flows through Little Tujunga all year round, sometimes above ground and in other parts just below the sand. One of two major inlets into Hansen Dam, the water flowing in this canyon ends up flowing out of your tap if you live in Los Angeles. In fact, 1/7th of LA's drinking water flows through the Hansen Dam basin.

It is a very beautiful, environmentally sensitive area and it must be respected as such.

Some people, however, have no respect for this beautiful natural area, instead treating it like their personal dump.

The problem of trashing of Little Tujunga and surrounding trails is far from non-trivial. Earlier this week I spent about 1 1/2 hours picking up trash on a section of the equestrian trail close to the basin. Along just 1.3 miles of this trail, in 90 minutes on foot I collected:
  • 55 beer cans, 33 of which were Bud Light
  • 23 water/sports drink bottles
  • 11 glass beer bottles
  • 1 Coke can
  • 1 Starbucks can
  • A few other trash items
Poison oak forced me to leave quite a few Bud Light cans behind.

After dragging all of this crap back down the canyon, I gotta ask again:
Who are the Bud Light Riders?

Drinking while riding in public spaces is illegal, same as drinking and driving. It is not only illegal, it is dangerous. Of course, littering is illegal. It is also damaging to the environment, to nature, and disrespectful to those who do ride on this trail responsibly.

The Bud Light Riders don't just trash up Little Tujunga Canyon, their crap is all over every single connecting trail throughout the NE San Fernando Valley.

1.3 miles of the Little Tujunga trail along which 55 beer cans 
were collected in just 90 minutes
The last time I wrote about this problem,  some discussion among parts of the community who primarily use this trail took place. Unfortunately, the discussion sounded for the most part like soundbytes from those who defend drinking while driving.    

"I'm always in control." "I know when to stop."  "I just do it to relax."

Many responses were very aggressive, defending drinking while riding in public spaces as if it were a god-given right.

Of course, to a person those admitting they do drink and ride swear they always 'have control at all times', and to a person they all swear they 'pack all their empties out'. A few claim they know who does all the littering - usually ID'd as some nebulous ethnic group who are supposedly belligerent when asked not to litter. 

Well, gee: a lot of someones are obviously engaged in this activity by the sheer volume of crap I picked up over a very small section of this trail.

Someone isn't packing their empties out, either.

I'm hardly the only one who cleans up this area, too. The real amount of beer can trash dumped annually along this trail is much greater than just what I picked up this trip.

Time to man up. If the Bud Light Riders are only one person or group, as some who defend drinking while riding will insist, then let's get these people identified and cited at the very least.

As for those who drink and ride, that law exists for good reason. Start looking into drinking and driving statistics. 17 million drive drunk in the US annually, risking their own lives and the lives of everyone else on the road with them.  The State of California rightfully considers drinking and driving as the drinker being armed with a 2,000lb or greater weapon when behind the wheel, with real impairment starting at Blood Alcohol Levels lower than .04.

A horse may not be 2000 lbs of steel, but they are 1000 lbs of animal with a mind of their own. To maximize everyone's safety, riders need to be in control of themselves and their horses at all times.

If you drink and ride, please reconsider. Imagine how good that beer will taste when you get back home from a long, hot ride.

Meanwhile, let's find out who the Bud Light Riders are and bring their trashing of our environmentally sensitive areas out in full public view.