Can snow play traffic chaos be fixed?

  • [photo by Rob Eubank]

    [photo by Rob Eubank]

By Patric Hedlund

Residents of these mountain had prepared for El Niño’s first snowstorms with sandbags, extra wood and emergency supplies But most had forgotten about a hazard of another kind.

Last weekend thundering hordes of “snow bunny” visitors suddenly swarmed across the hillsides to transform rural roads into parking lots, leaving behind shocking mounds of litter, broken fences and fender benders.

3,000 to 5,000 cars

An estimated three to five thousand cars slammed the…(please see below to view full stories and photographs)

Photo captions:

Snow play at the Frazier Mountain Trailhead (above) and (here) on Mt. Piños

Snow play traffic, January 9-10, 2016

Left: Over 90 residents and officials showed up to the impromptu Wednesday, Jan. 13 meeting to talk about solutions to the explosion of snow play visitors. Government agencies had met among themselves that morning to coordinate and develop proposals to discuss with the public. Above: Barbara Newbold provided a structured agenda, a call for kindness, and cookies.

Right: California Highway Patrol Lt. Julian Irigoyen, the brand new Fort Tejon CHP Commander; Above: Irigoyen hosted an interagency winter snow play coordination meeting on Wednesday morning, Jan. 13.
Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service; sheriff’s deputies from Ventura, Kern and L.A. Counties; Pine Mountain Club; Hungry Valley State Park; the Kern County Roads Department; and Kern County Fire Department attended. Nordic Ski Patrol was also in the loop. Irigoyen is a 17 year CHP veteran. He just transferred to the Fort Tejon office on January 4. At the Wednesday night meeting he was greeted by residents of the Frazier Mountain Communities with applause as he stood to provide a summary of what was decided in the coordination meeting. “Welcome to Frazier Park!” several people joked in good spirit, appreciating his willingness to take quick action.

CHP Lieutenant Julian Irigoyen

A tour bus brought tourists to the Frazier Mountain Trailhead off Lockwood Valley Road, south of Chuchupate Ranger Station last week. The areas can host a hundred cars, on a flat road.

These areas near Pine Mountain Club and Mt. Piños are more dangerous to drive in snow conditions.

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This is part of the January 15, 2016 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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