Two National Park sites near Malibu that had been closed for a Red Flag Warning were vandalized overnight Friday when a person or persons cut locks on gates, according to a news release from the park service. The park service believes the vandalism is a protest of the shutdown of the federal government shutdown.
Locks on gates at two sites in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreations Area—Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park, and Cheeseboro – Palo Comado Canyons in Agoura Hills—were cut either late Friday night or early Saturday morning by persons unknown, according to a press release from NPS area superintendent David Szymanski.
The persons then opened the gates, which Szymanski said was meant to create the impression that the park sites were open for visitation. Nine local national park sites have been closed due to the ongoing shutdown of the federal government, but these closures are due to weekend weather conditions with a high fire danger, Szymanski said.
“Despite the fact that all gates were clearly marked with signs noting closures due to extreme fire danger, it appears that the gates were vandalized in response to the Federal government shutdown,” he said.
The NPS release stated that the areas were closed because of fire danger. In the event of a fire, visitors deep inside the canyons “may not be able to exit in time. Clearing an area of visitors during a fire puts rescue personnel at risk and also pulls them away from protecting other people and property in the path of the fire.”
It added that the current weather conditions are very similar to those experienced during the Springs Fire in May, which burned nearly 25,000 acres in Ventura County.
“If these same acts had been perpetrated during the Springs Fire, they would have put visitors and our firefighters at a serious and very unnecessary risk,” said Superintendent David Szymanski. “Though the chance of fire hitting any one place on any given day is small, the risk is real and the consequences are grave.” Szymanski adds, “Fire closures are inconvenient, but if they save one life, they are worth it.”
For information on the park service closures the public can contact David Szymanski at 805-370-2342.