The state Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee approved a bill authored by state Assemblyman Brian Nestande on Tuesday that is to clear up one detail about the annual closing of the popular Bump and Grind Trail, specifying that the trail will be closed to hikers for three months each year from February through April.
Nestande said the bill, AB 1097, is intended to be a “cleanup” measure after a bill approved last year didn’t specify the three months that the trail would be closed.
Heated debates have arisen about the impacts of hiking on populations of Peninsular bighorn sheep, including the controversy during the past two years over the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s installation of a gate blocking off part of the trail. Hikers have argued the agency didn’t present data proving impacts on sheep populations to back its decision.
Nestande (R-Palm Desert) said the bill simply clears up the annual closure to sidestep potential troubles.
“That wasn’t specified in the bill. So now this, to avoid having to go through an environmental impact report, which costs a lot of money, which could open up to lawsuits on either side of the debate here, we just decided to write it in law so there’s no more delay in opening the trail,” Nestande said.