Things seem really different now after 2 months of so much abrupt and unexpected change. The world before COVID-19 is quickly fading into memory.
Shutting down our operation was the easy part. It was only disheartening in that we had been working on so many new and exciting development that were placed on hold. After 2 years of building and proving the worth of our business model to the US Forest Service, we were eager to proceed under a three year concession and expanded outfitting services.
This was a major milestone for us after 3 intense years building the company to where it is now.
We built much of our reputation on being an environmentally conscious and responsible company. It’s why we decided early on that we had to do the right thing and shut-down, to ensure we minimized exposure to our rural backcountry communities. US Forest Service ended up closing the campground a few days later, being the last campground in the area to have done so.
We went along with the face coverings and shelter in place orders. We shut down the operation and went along with every other recommendation that was asked of us.
The closure of our public lands, forests, trails, state parks and beaches, county parks and lakes made very little sense to me.
My frustration has only gotten worse as the days went on we learn more in regards to the complex subject of COVID-19.
These arbitrary rules, contradicting and unreasonable closures have created so much havoc and disappointment for the outdoor recreation community. As Julian and Anza-Borrego took strict closure measures early on, Mount Laguna immediately felt the impact, as more and more people flocked to the few areas still accessible. As a result of the closure of trail heads in many areas, visitors had to find alternative places to park to reach the trails. We saw many confused visitors pulling off and hanging out along the highway, worried about venturing into closed areas and risking a fine for simply hiking. Important trail work projects, as well as the renovation work at Laguna Campground was also interrupted. The impacts have been many.
Thanks to our consistently amazing Descanso Ranger District Office, Burnt Rancheria Campground will be opening next Monday, May 18. They will be doing so under modified operations, so spaces will be limited. They are the first campground in our backcountry opening up to the public, which we believe is a critical step to getting the rest of our public land managers on board with opening up.
Our public lands, maintained with our tax dollars and volunteer hours, should be open and accessible to us during these very difficult times, and at all times. Outdoor recreation is one of the most important activities for overall health and well being. Our backcountry represents one of the most unique and important recreation destinations in all of southern California. Very few places offer the variety of recreational opportunities we have here.
We really hope that this puts things into perspective for you. We hope you’ll gain a new appreciation for what this area represents, as well as all of our public lands in San Diego County. Do your part to get involved and realize how important these resources are for us. The public is such an integral part of the park system, through revenue generation, trail maintenance work and many other volunteer efforts.
After two months, it’s likely that we’ll be presuming operations in the comings days. We’re waiting for our COVID-19 business mitigation plan to be approved, which is available on our web-site here.
As of this moment, you can start booking for June 1st and beyond. We’ll keep you posted if we’re opening up sooner. We look forward to hosting you again soon.
This crisis has allowed us to really step back, take a breath and reaffirm to ourselves the significance of this business model we've created.
As we look for ways to navigate this brave and uncertain new business world, we see more and more that our model has shown much resilience under these difficult economic circumstances. That has most certainly been a very promising sign!