Carley Conemac, 15 of Frazier Park went one direction and her blue sled went another down the run near Frazier Mountain Park.
Ideas from readers continue to pour in, suggesting ways to improve the Mountain Community’s ability to host visitors from surrounding urban areas while maintaining our peaceful rural habits. Here are OpEds and letters on the subject. They will continue next week. See related OpEd.
I Was a Teenage Snow Bunny
By Michelle Maga, Cuddy Valley
In 1963, my parents moved all nine of us kids from Minnesota to sunny California. One would think after 40 or so years of toughing out those frigid winters, the last place they would want to take us for a family outing would be Mount Pinos.
But many winter Sundays after church, they’d pile us into the blue Ford station wagon, strap the toboggan, inner tubes and flying saucers on top and away we’d go.
As a 16-year resident of first Pine Mountain and now Cuddy Valley, I have done my share of fist-shaking at these snow-loving clones of my parents and myself. But it’s only a brief spurt of anger as I am not so old as to have forgotten those awesome days flying down these snow-packed hills.
Snow Bunny Droppings
Today, my husband and I are hugely affected by the snow bunny inundation after each major snowfall because we live right next to “snow bunny hill” on Cuddy Valley Road.
We’ve had fences cut, been gifted with huge amounts of trash and have had to shoo them off our property many times. As much as I am frustrated by the damage, traffic and trash, I love to hear the screaming and laughter as they fly down the hill next to us. I have stood at the fence and talked with many of them, trying to help guide them to better snow further up the road.
Snow Bunny Valentines
I am in full agreement with Dave Nelson who wrote last week about his admiration for parents who take the time to drive up here and get out there to play with their kids. I’ve been on the receiving end of similarly dedicated parents who thought that weekends should be spent with us children. Those memories are permanently imbedded in my psyche.
Years ago I brought my own young son up here many times to fly down the same hills that brought joyous terror to me as a child. Now, when the snow is poor around our place, we pack nieces and nephews into the truck and drive to the top of the same mountain.
But the big difference between today and 1963 is the population explosion in California. We are still operating the way we did back then, and common sense dictates that we can’t use the same methods to control these enormous crowds. These are my thoughts on ways to improve the situation.
How to Fix It
- The U.S. Forest Service should see that getting the roads to the top of Mount Pinos and to the Chuchupate snow play areas open has got to be a priority. Too often, the snow gates are closed, forcing people to play in less appropriate areas.
- Kern County should invest in snow removal equipment similar to that used in Mammoth and Big Bear. This means, at minimum, the purchase of large snow-blowers. Plows can only do so much and after the berms get too big, there is no place to push the snow. Snow blowers get the snow away from the road, creating better parking.
- Cost savings: If the snow play areas are open, there will be less need to pay for traffic enforcement. That money could be invested in creating more snow play areas and snow removal equipment.
- Better signage is something the USFS could work on. Signs could be posted at the more frequented areas. These signs (bilingual, sorry) would direct people to better snow and better parking areas. Flashing roadway signs could advertise these areas in addition to the vehicle chain requirements.
- Open road shoulders to residents and emergency vehicles only.
Good Work Appreciated, But Residents Need Help
The Forest Service did a commendable job of cleaning up the area next to us within just a matter of days after the Jan. 23-24 weekend. The CHP and Sheriffs are also doing a good job of handling the thousands of cars but there must be better access for residents. None of us want to feel imprisoned on weekends because we can’t get to town and back in under two hours.
Walk a Mile in their Snow Boots
The snow bunnies will always be with us. Walk for just a moment in their snow boots and try to recall the fun you had when you went sliding down your first big hill. There are solutions out there. We just need to work together to find those that benefit both sides.
This is part of the February 12, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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