Caspar Road 500 Sign Discouraging Public Access

Sign on 500 seen up close





Sign on 500 as seen by approaching motorists

Above are two photos of signs posted on Road 500, the main road leading from Caspar into Jackson Forest. This is the main access road to North and South Caspar Creek. It continues all of the way to Hwy 20. It is open all year around and is typically used a lot by locals.

Around 2000, Mr. Ed Powers bought land auctioned by Hawthorne. This land spanned Caspar Creek and went from the Caspar State Park Beach to JDSF. Mr. Powers deeded the riparian zone to the state and has been developing the remainder as residential lots. Road 500 runs through Mr. Power's parcel. JDSF has a right of way for Road 500 and has always kept this road open for public access and continues to do so.

According to Mr. Ed Perrott, who spoke to me at the July 26, 2008 recreation meeting, Mr. Powers has attempted to discourage public use of the section of Road 500 that passes through his property. He has intercepted people walking on the road and told them that this is private property. Although technically correct, this statement misleads people, because although private property, there is the right of public access. Mr. Power requested permission from Cal Fire to erect a gate across the road. Cal Fire has the right to keep this road open for public access under the right-of-way provision in the deed. Cal Fire denied Mr. Power's request.

In the letter of denial, Mr. William Snyder, Deputy Director for Resource Management, included the following paragraphs:

The key phrase for the issue of signage is:

"We consider any signage implying that public access is restricted as an impediment to travel across the easement."

Cal Fire approved the sign shown at the top of the page. This sign is now posted at the entrance to the section of road traversing Mr. Powers property. Although it appears, somewhat indirectly, to convey a right of passage when seen up close, its actual effect is make approaching motorists believe they will be trespassing on private property if they continue. This is apparent from the photo on right, which is scaled down so that one sees what would be seen by someone approaching the sign.

The sign should not have been approved. Its effect clearly contradicts the position of Cal Fire, as stated by Mr. Snyder. Cal Fire should be asked to reconsider and withdraw its approval of the sign now on Road 500. Any approved sign should state "Public Road" in letters of equal size to "Private Property". For example:

Public Road
Private Property
Next 3/4 Mile

Stay on Road
Drive Slowly

This would inform people that they are on a public road and still provide notice that they are passing through private property and should not leave the road. This will provide the notice desired by Mr. Powers while protecting the right of public access.