Monday, January 3, 2011

Trouble at the Lower Arroyo Seco Corral

The 'new business' item on the January 4, 2011, agenda of the Pasadena Recreation and Parks Commission looks simple enough: 'Reconfiguration of Trails and Introduction of Fencing in the Southern Archery Range Area of the Lower Arroyo Seco.'

Beneath the surface, though, conflict has been brewing between two groups - recreational hikers/runners/dog walkers and the Pasadena Roving Archers Club - who essentially want the same thing: better safety conditions that will stop hikers/runners/dog walkers from wandering into the active use archery range where bow and arrow aficionados have been taking target practice and hosting competitions since 1935.

The cause of this dispute? A recommendation by Pasadena City staff to erect split natural rail fencing on a temporary basis to establish two separate areas within the archery area of the always popular Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park.

To understand the current seemingly hikers/runners/dog walkers vs archers situation, it's necessary to start with the Lower Arroyo Seco Master Plan, which was adopted in 2003 by the Pasadena City Council. That plan includes provisions to address potential conflicts between archery and other uses by calling for improvements to signage, trails, shooting lanes and habitat restoration.

In 2005, a new hiking trail was established between the archery range and the multi-use trail immediately adjacent to the channelized Arroyo Seco stream. Per the City's staff report, boulders, native plantings, and natural wooden posts were used to delineate the new trail and discourage trail users from leaving the new path.

But here's the rub: many hikers/runners/dog walkers still continue to use the OLD 'abandoned' trail segments, which traverses the archery shooting line. Obviously, everyone is concerned about human (and hopefully dog) safety with pedestrians in that area during archery events.

To provide a temporary solution because it does not currently have the funding necessary to complete its original trail plan, the City is proposing the construction of fencing that will divide the archery area into two sections: Targets 1 through 14, which will be dedicated solely to archery on a full-time basis, and Targets 15-28 which will be used for archery only on designated days and by special permit. The City will also construct temporary signage.

It appears that the archers are not too happy with the City's plan, judging by their website and Facebook postings.  They are concerned that a new requirement to obtain permits for archery events, coupled with reduce usage on Targets 15-28 will negatively impact their long-standing archery program (see my blog of December 27th on the popularity of Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park).

Some hikers/runners/dog walkers, on the other hand, either mistakenly take the old trail or do so intentionally because they 'like this hike better' than the new trail segment. My personal observation is that there is not nearly enough signage to alert hikers/runners/dog walkers of the archery range's location and possible imminent danger.  Since so many hikers/runners/dog walkers traverse the Lower Arroyo Seco from connecting trails, it is possible that they are not aware of archery activity without such signage. (Thankfully, no hikers or dogs have been injured by arrows yet but that risk is always apparent.)

Can hikers/runners/dog walkers and archers get along in an area where the classic film, The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn was filmed? Will temporary fencing really solve this safety issue? And what about the dogs that run around off-leash in that area, even though their owners should know better? Will the dogs understand to stop at the fencing? If you use the Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park as part of your outdoor recreation/nature activities, you might want to voice your opinion at the January 4th R&P meeting, starting at 6:00pm at the Pasadena Senior Center.


  1. I'm not familiar with the Archers Arroyo Seco part. But how much funding is needed for the "original" city trail plan? And, who has that kind of money and is interested in this sort of thing, if not the city??

    In any case, I wouldn't want to upset the Archers too much since they have the guns.

  2. We actually have bows and arrows not guns(some members do but it's not permitted in the range)

  3. As the President of Pasadena Roving Archers from our perspective a few signs and strategically placed natural obstacles as outlined in our counter report would resolve this issue in compliance with the plan.

    We have offered to pay for and install safety signs on the edge of the range but the city has consistently told us it is there job. At the moment when we are officially on the range we use temporary signs that are removed after our events are concluded.

    It is difficult for us to understand how a 240ft long fence and signs is less expensive than some strategically placed boulders and signs that warn hikers that the archery range is there.

    The proposed solution also structurally creates a situation where sometimes its an archery range and sometimes its a hiking trail - how is that a good idea from a safety perspective?

    BTW Cafe Pasadena, after 75 years of operation in the Arroyo we have a perfect safety record - we are not interested in seeing that change :)

    I'd be happy to meet with you to discuss this in more detail:

  4. Hello from England! I stumbled upon your post while searching for temporary fencing for my company. I stayed to read and hope you don’t mind me including a small comment; Why should other people have to pay in order to keep dogs – that should be under control – from certain areas? Dogs in national parks/nature reserves should ALWAYS be on leads. They are a menace to nature. GGrrrr! Rant over, thanks.


Please be civil, brief, and relevant. Thank you!