Petition To Return Ranger Staffing
to Safe Levels at Lake Nacimiento
We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens and residents who demand that a minimum of seven full time Monterey County Park Rangers be redeployed exclusively to Lake Nacimiento and surrounding areas. We believe that seven Park Rangers constitute the minimum staffing level necessary to enforce the law, to provide safety for locals, visitors, camping and boating, and to protect the lake waters from invasive mussels.
Over the previous two years, the Monterey County Parks Department has reduced the number of Park Rangers and other Parks Department employees on Lake Nacimiento to a dangerously low level. In the past, there were as many as 30 Park Rangers patrolling Monterey County parks, including Lake Nacimiento. Now there are only five Park Rangers to patrol all of these parks, and only one is dedicated full time to Lake Nacimiento.
This must change. Park Rangers are responsible for law enforcement and perform many vital functions, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Citing and arresting intoxicated boaters;
- Citing reckless boaters;
- Citing boaters who do not possess daily or annual passes;
- Performing invasive mussel permit inspections and citing violators;
- Providing emergency services in case of a catastrophe, such as fires, drowning and boating accidents;
- Maintaining channel buoys to keep boaters from running aground; and
- Being a deterrent to dangerous behavior by their visible presence.
It takes a minimum of three Park Rangers in order to put one Park Ranger Boat on the lake (two Park Rangers in the boat and one at the Resort Marina). With shift coverage and days off it takes at least seven Park Rangers in order to keep a boat on the lake. Campers pay Monterey County as much as $47.00 per night to stay at the resort; boaters pay $100.00 per vessel for a yearly lake permit; day use is $10.00; and dock owners pay $60.00 for each dock, with an additional fee of $20.00 for each slip within a dock. Monterey County continues to collect this money yet fails to provide the safety and security we rely on for our fees.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of deaths on the lake caused by reckless and/or intoxicated boaters, resulting in accidents and drowning. Thefts and gang activity are on the rise. Boaters are using the lake without fear of having to provide proof of either a mandatory mussel inspection or an annual or daily pass. On a busy weekend there can be hundreds of campers and thousands of boats on the water. When there are not enough Park Rangers it becomes a virtual free-for-all. And word is getting out. For some, it might seem welcome news that law enforcement has been so severely depleted, but for the great majority of us who use the lake, it is entirely unsatisfactory. We want and need to know that in the event of an emergency or catastrophe that there are trained people available to help. We expect to have our lake waters protected from the devastating effect of an irreversible infestation of invasive mussels. We demand full time Park Rangers be returned to Lake Nacimiento at the staffing levels necessary to provide for our safety and to enforce the law.
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