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SLO park rangers urge proper trail use to maintain open space during rainy season

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As the Central Coast heads deeper into the fall and winter, park rangers for the City of San Luis Obispo are urging people to follow listed signage when trails are closed.

Basile Inman is a Park Ranger II with the City of San Luis Obispo. He said rain means erosion and puddling — so, in the interest of maintaining open space, local park rangers will often close trails.

“It’s an easy thing that we can do to protect natural trail systems and preserve the land around it and the vegetation,” Inman said.

He said hiking on a closed trail or even hiking off-trail can be damaging to the land. Veering off-trail can expand it unnecessarily and extra compaction from use can make erosion worse.

“The main goal for open space is the preservation and conservation of the natural resources. So we’re trying to alleviate as much of that as possible,” Inman said.

Inman said park rangers strive to keep as many trails open to the public as possible. He said all of them are open right now, but certain trails like Johnson Ranch, sections of Cerro San Luis and Reservoir Canyon have more soil saturation than others and are typically closed during and after rain.

But he said trails aren’t typically closed for more than a few days.

“Every day, we’ll go and check on the soil saturation levels and analyze to see when the right time is to open,” Inman said.

He said people do sometimes express frustration when a trail is closed, but there are usually plenty of other open trails available for use within the city. He said using a trail when it is closed can have long-term effects.

“You think it’s just one time — you’re just going off-trail," Inman said. "I don’t think people understand that their simple actions have a larger impact.”

Up-to-date trail statuses and maps for San Luis Obispo open space are available here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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