Public review could have averted trail conflict
Hikers and shooting-range users are asking the city to allow their activities to continue.
A failure to communicate has hikers, shooting enthusiasts and the city in three-way conflict. By abruptly closing a popular trail up Koko Crater without public discussion or notice, city officials have stirred up trouble and suspicion that there are underlying motives beyond the purported safety of hikers.
The issue arose two weeks ago when the city put up signs barring hikers from a climb to the top of the crater, indicating that live fire from a nearby shooting range presented danger. There had been no reports of anyone being shot and both the city-run target range and trail have long been in simultaneous use.
Officials later explained that buildings from a former Job Corps facility had previously buffered the trail. However, those structures were torn down nearly a decade ago, so it remains unclear why there was an urgent need to close the trail.
If there is any danger to hikers, it might come from the trail itself, which leads to the 1,207-foot crater summit on a steep incline of dirt and wooden railway ties. Some of the ties have deteriorated over time and there are gaps in some places.
The city has never designated the trail as an open part of the regional park, and allowing residents and tourists to hike it might expose the city to lawsuits if it doesn't block access or warn people away. If that's the concern, officials should address it.
Meanwhile, since both hikers and shooting enthusiasts agree their separate activities should not be halted, the city should find a way to allow them to continue.
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