Friday, August 27, 2010

MENDOCINO NF ALERT - Road Gated at Crabtree Hot Springs and The Manson Family

Just when the Recreation HQ thinks it has seen everything regarding road and trail closures in Northern California, something beyond bizarre is brought to The General’s attention.
PHOTO: Start of Private Property on NE Corner of Hot Springs Property
Several days ago, HQ was alerted to the fact that the family which owns Crabtree Hot Springs has installed locked gates blocking 17N04, a major public transportation route (often referred to as the “OHV corridor” that links up the Upper Lake and Grindstone Ranger Districts) on the Mendocino National Forest.

After learning about this issue, HQ (on behalf of BRC) contacted the Mendocino National Forest’s Leadership Team and brought this to their attention. Based on those conversations, HQ believes the Forest is giving this “access crisis” its full attention and expects to have an update shortly.

In the meantime, a member of the public wrote a story in a local newspaper about the closure. Unfortunately, the writer wrongly identifies the county sheriff, Rodney Mitchell, as the point person for folks to send their grievances to.

Local Story/Letter to Editor on Crabtree Closure (Uncanny resemblance to the Manson info below)

Manson Family Picnic Website with Crabtree Issue

Manson Family Picnic Missive Wrongly Directing Folks to the County Sheriff

While this issue is being addressed by the Forest, HQ urges riders not to use the portion of 17N04 that transects the private property. Rather, OHVers should allow the Forest to work with the county sheriff and others to find a long-term solution to this issue.

If you have concerns, HQ requests that you correctly address those notes to the lead agency (the FS) and the proper staff. For now, send those concerns to:

Mike Burmann
OHV Manager
Upper Lake Ranger District

Be assured, The General will work to see that a solution is found in either the collaborative, administrative, or legal arenas.


  1. Hello - what's the satus here?

  2. Upper Lake Ranger District completed a bypass around some private property at Youngs Corral last year. That will allow for users and events to legally connect up on the southern end from Goat Mountain over to the French Ridge area. OHVers will no longer have to go by all the craziness (and boobytraps).

  3. Just curious Don, what kind of booby-traps, hadn't heard about any of those?

  4. 4 x 8 x 6 ft deep foot Vietnam-era style booby traps (covered with brush) at the ends of the gates

  5. While I believe that the work around via Youngs Corral is a nice motorcycle ride, the gates on the 17N04 impede the progress of other users of the forest. That road was built with public money, has been open for years/decades, and was even designated as a corridor for OHV's by the Forest Service. There clearly seems that public easement has been established through this property. What will it take to get the powers-that-be to do something to rectify this?

  6. Crabtree Hot Springs is now within the greater Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument. Just to the southeast is the Hale Ridge Natural Research Area. In order to get there, this website directs people to drive through the Crabtree property. There is no mention of getting permission to drive through from anyone.
    I emailed this info to the official owner's Crabtree site, and the mail bounced back, the address seemingly no longer in existence.

    As I recall, there is some old common law that states if the public has been using a road for years, and it was never blocked or signed against travel for a long time, then it is presumed to be a public route. Of course this is on federal property, so they can make any rules they want, but it seems now that this is a National Monument, and the property is adjacent to a Research National Area, and a semi-official-looking website is directing people to drive through, and the owner's email no longer exists, and there are years-old reports she is in bad health, I would assume nobody cares anymore, so ride or drive on through, maybe. I have a digital USFS map that seems to indicate there are gates on the road, but I can't see any gates on the aerial photo in those locations. It is a numbered USFS road, and I assume that agency maintains it, so it appears, to me, to be a public right-of-way through private property.