On January 3, 2009, two equestrians were riding at Folsom State Recreation Area (Folsom, CA) on a designated and posted horse only trail. They were confronted with 3 motorcycle riders, their horses bolted. Both riders were thrown and sustained severe head injuries, bruised ribs and general trauma.
“Toby”, a 4-year –old Appaloosa/Quarter Horse, got only 1⁄2 mile down the trail but in that short distance he experienced injures so severe he was euthanized on the spot. The other horse, ”Bailey”, a 20 –year-old Morgan, traveled more than 5 miles from the incident site and was eventually located, thankfully, uninjured.
The Folsom Lake State Recreation area is located in a semi-urban area and has designated riding areas for horses, mountain bikes, and hiking. Even so there is conflict from time to time and this incident became the flash point for change in the Sierra Foothills of California. A determined group of park volunteers, bird watchers, mountain bike riders, hikers, equestrians and park management convened. They set their sights on conflict prevention and they would start by improving connectivity between trail users and park management.
This Ad Hoc group wanted a simple and convenient method for passing information between trail users and park management. It had to be available 24/7, simple to access and use, remain unobtrusive and available to everyone. This solution had to target safety issues and work to address problems preemptively.
The motorcycle riders had entered the trail system from private property through a cut fence. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it is plausible that an intact fence might have denied the motorcyclist access to the horse only trail. Local equestrians were aware of the cut fence but in the Sierra foothills public land is managed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, CA State Parks and multiple cities and counties. Whose jurisdiction did this fence fall under?
The web-based service now known as ParkWatchReport was born out of the Folsom Lake tragedy and a direct line of communication between land managers and the trail-using public.
The FREE phone app (available on iTunes and Google Play) provided by ParkWatchReport can take a report from a trail user and forward it to the appropriate land manager in 2 minutes or less. It is available 24/7 and 365 days a year. The app automatically records the date, time and the GPS coordinates of the report site. Site photos can be uploaded (a picture is worth a thousand words to a land manager) and it records a detailed (or brief) description of the condition being reported. Hit “SEND” and the report is forwarded real time to the land manager with jurisdiction based on the GPS coordinates.
Trail users can now report cut fences, trails blocked by fallen trees, weather or trail use related erosion, dangerous trail conditions, or trails being used illegally no matter where they are in the US and Canada. At https://www.parkwatchreport.com/ there is a list (which is rapidly expanding) of parks that currently subscribe to ParkWatchReport in order for their park to be featured but the actual reporting system works independently. A report can be filed from any trail anywhere anytime.
As trail riders you are already the “boots on the ground”. With ParkWatchReport downloaded on your smart phone you become a vital part of the day-to-day communication exchange that has added a new and significant level of safety to all trails.
The free smart phone app can be downloaded at Apple Store and Google Play. For PC and Mac users a desktop version is available at https://www.parkwatchreport.com . For more information contact Park Watch Report, LLC Headquarters at (530) 878-4750 or EMAIL HERE.