Is Blackstar Canyon Legal to ride?
Our meeting with the residents of Blackstar
Our email message
Subject: Blackstar update
I have researched the documents pertaining to the public easement and have confirmed through the public documents and my supervisors that the County easement and common law allows the public the right to access the National Forest through Blackstar Canyon Road. The documents further state that although the county declared this a "non-maintained road," this does not affect the public's right to access the forest, which is irrevocable according to common law.
Included in the documents was a memo written in 1988 by then County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez asking the Sheriff to enforce the publics' right to use the road. Other documents also state the County has given up posting the sign that declares the public' right to use Blackstar because it is vandalized by the residents as soon as it is put up and not cost effective to continue to maintain it.
I have created a petition, to be presented to the Board of Supervisors, for you to gather signatures asking that the Board protect the public's safety and right to use the public easement through Blackstar. I will not circulate this petition or the supporting documents until I've talked with Art and Bill and see how those who have passed through this canyon have treated them.
I personally prefer to handle this in the most peaceful manner possible. As I stated before, I do not want to bring harm to the residents of Blackstar. I will attempt to talk to the residents and state the fact that we will not litter or harm their property and will work with them to insure the canyon is not harmed.
Many of the residents complaints concerning the actions of the those "asses" that cause the problems such as litter and miss-using guns are valid and we should all participate in reporting criminal activity as well as pick up the litter left by others. I also prefer to keep this right to use Blackstar as quiet as possible and prefer not to have the sign designating the publics right to use the road posted to discourage those that cause the problems from giving us all a black eye. It is not the Mountain bikers who cause the problems here, but the one's who believe a good time cannot be had without beer, guns and destroying whatever they get their hands on. I personally have no problem with the residents harassing these users, or should I say abusers.
As I mentioned in a previous email, if you ride Blackstar and are told by either Bill Studer or Art Tuttle that you are trespassing, please state your right to use the road in a calm, respectful tone and do not resort to threats or cursing. Tell them you respect the Forest and their property and will do everything in your power to protect both, and then continue on. I have never had any problem with the residents when I have dealt with them in this manner. That is what has perplexed me in this matter. Art has never assaulted me and treated me respectfully. To those who know him he is not a monster. Art is a Christian and if you treat him decently, he will be compelled to treat you the same.
I believe it is Bill Studer who is the more aggressive of the two. No matter what, I respect the residents because I know what they've had to put up with when the road was open. I first ventured into this canyon over 28 years ago. My brother brought me here and taught me the history of the place. We brought bags and hiked up to the Indian village and massacre site and on our way back picked as much trash as we could. My brother instilled in me the importance of caring for the land and the importance of my heritage.
He also was very vocal in his anger at the way the land was treated. I don't want a return to those days and that is why I am hesitant to make it too easy for people to access this canyon. You may not agree with me and that's OK.
But you must understand my position. I want to seek an equitable solution for all parties involved in this dispute. I want to remind everyone that it does no good to perpetuate anger or hate and if you react this way there is a greater chance that you will be assaulted. It is far easier to react in anger, but there is a greater reward in seeking peace.
Although our organization is called the Warrior's Society, I consider it a higher calling to be a medicine man that is a peacemaker. I will let you know the results of my meeting.
NOTE: Disregard all signs along the road that state the road is private and you are trespassing. One sign even has a County Code that you are supposedly violating. These signs were put up by Art Tuttle in an effort to intimidate users from using the road.
Thanks for keeping me in the loop concerning this issue. Your approach to Blackstar Canyon is right on target. I remember battling for over a decade to keep the lower ranges of the Eaton Canyon watershed in the Angeles Forest free of trash and the abusive behavior of uninformed occasional visitors.
Long ago, when the Canyon was all but sealed off by the Pasadena Dept. of Water and Power for water acquisition purposes, the Canyon was in pristine condition ! At that time, it took a huge commitment and the risk of arrest just to visit the area. After floods destroyed water collection and metering equipment in the 70's, PDWP abandoned its claim to the area and traffic (plus vandalism) increased. By the 80's, it was simply impossible to correct the environmental damage inflicted by hundreds of careless persons.
Thankfully, once a decade or so, the entire Eaton Canyon watershed experiences the devastation of 'cleansing floods' and/or landslides which rearrange the entire canyon floor and 'reset the clock.' My point is, limited public access will preserve the beauty and integrity of the canyon and I totally support your efforts to act as a peacemaker with the residents of Blackstar without hyping the canyon as a premier cycling destination.
Unfortunately, the equation hasn't changed much : more traffic = >% number 'irresponsibles' =>damage to the land. Hoping to join the April rides - maybe the shorter of the two until properly 'tested.'
Thanks for your update. I appreciate your efforts.
I wish you luck in dealing with these guys. I have had an experience with one of them, I think it was Bill Studer....not sure....red hair, beard, silver pickup.....anyway...a few years ago he nearly ran over myself and my son (who was 12 at the time) when we were riding along the road heading out of the canyon.
Something I want you to give some thought to:
I understand what you mean when you talk about, "the one's who believe a good time cannot be had without beer, guns and destroying whatever they get their hands on." I would ask you to think a second time though lest you create the impression that anyone who likes to shoot or hunt for that matter is some kind of redneck cretin. Without doubt, some are. Just as there are mountain bikers who are as well.
We need to be careful, lest we, in our desire to preserve our sport, fall into the same elitist mentality of the Sierra Clubbers. That is, "I don't like to do it...so you shouldn't either." I see this stuff all the time. Mountain bikers hate roadies. Roadies hate mountain bikers. Skate boarders hate roller bladers and vice-versa. Skiers hate Snowboarders, Vegitarians hate meat eaters. Non-smokers hate smokers, etc., etc. And many are perfectly willing to have the thing they "hate" banned or restricted to where they don't have to even see it...much less do it.
Part of the reason why you see the broken bottles is because there is a lack of facilities for people to shoot. There used to be a range in Orange County...right off Sand Canyon Road. No more. Now, if I want to shoot my rife I have to drive to Azusa. And, I may be mistaken, but it sounds as if you are assuming that it is the shooters that bring the bottles. Maybe they do. But maybe the bottles were already there.....brought there by a bunch of drunk teenagers....or drunk construction workers for that matter. Or maybe some mountain biker who had a beer after a ride (though I doubt that) ...who knows?
Personally, I don't think I would hunt in the Santa Ana mountains. For one reason, it is just too heavily accessed. I would be concerned about shooting someone by accident. And I definitely wouldn't shoot bottles. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, that others don't do it. But, we need to be careful not to lump all hunters or shooters into the same pot. If you think about it, isn't that what the eco-wackos and the residents of Black Star are doing to us?
The essential thing about freedom is this: You can't have your freedom until you are willing to let someone else have theirs. Anyway, think this thing through. The public as a whole is going to have to hang together on this. We are all going to have to defend each other's rights, or NO ONE will have access.
I'm reminded of the story of the minister in Germany during the 1930's, who watched the rise of Nazism. He said the following, and I paraphrase (poorly):
"When they came for the Jews, I said nothing. When they came for Catholics, I said nothing. When they came for me, there was no one left to say anything."
Thanks for listening,
Our response to Mark
I agree with you on your points and I will clarify my future comments to reflect "irresponsible gun owners" who give a bad name to the majority of gun owners that are responsible. I own several firearms and I am an absolute supporter of the right to bear arms. The chipping away of our right to do own them dismays me. Most of the current gun laws only affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals who never have been affected by them. I also apologize if I gave the impression that it's only gun owners who are leaving the beer bottles, trash, etc. The majority of the trash is not left by gun users but by others.
The following was sent in by Chay Peterson, owner of Sprocket Head and a member of the Warrior's Society. She also lives in Silverado Canyon.
I agree with your standpoint on the Blackstar issue... That it should be handled in a respectful, calm manner. The last thing we want is another massacre! To make headway, sometimes you need to come into a situation from another angle. The best way I know how to do this is to imagine consider the other party's perspective...(imagine being them) and then tread softly from there. I agree that this is what we should do. Oh yeah...as far as signs go...I have an old Blackstar "open to the public" sign that was torn down many moons ago. We can't use it though...it's all shot up with bullet holes!!! (from the backside I might add!) Like I said..."Tread softly!"
-Chay Vision (cries for the wounded)
Saturday a peace party consisting of 3 members of the Warrior's Society's Chiefs Council as well as Jim Meyer of Trails4All (and his son) met with Art Tuttle one of the residents of Blackstar Canyon. Bill Studer was not home.
Art reiterated his stance that anyone using the road is trespassing and that he would not recognize any claim otherwise. The meeting was civil and Art treated us with respect and we did likewise. Art did not threaten us even after we stated our intention to ride up to Hidden Ranch; he just again stated we were trespassing.
I, as well as my fellow members of the Chiefs Council and others who have experience in dealing with both Art and Bill Studer are a bit perplexed by the claims of violence by others who have come in contact with them. Art and Bill have always confronted us when we have ridden through (if they are in the canyon), and when we have stated our rights and our intention to continue on, they have left us alone.
If you intend to ride Blackstar and are confronted by either Art or Bill, state your legal right to pass through - do not argue the point! Thank them and continue on. If any attempt is made to physically stop you from doing so, state that you will call the Sheriff and have them prosecuted. For detailed info on both riding in Blackstar and a accurate description of both Art and Bill, please see our June 99 newsletter which contains an article written by "Keeps Many Trails" who is very experienced in dealing with both Art and Bill. It is posted on our web in our newsletter.
After our ride we passed Art again on our way out of the Canyon and he did not threaten us in any way. We had a meeting amongst ourselves to discuss our course of action and we decided that there is no need for a petition at this time. Jim Meyer will meet with an Aid of Todd Spitzers, who is the County Supervisor who is responsible for the District in which Blackstar Canyon is located, and will to discuss the situation with him. He may just ask Todd's aid to have the Sheriff respond to any calls regarding physical assaults by the residents.
If you ride up Blackstar and follow our advice and are assaulted, it is your responsibility to report it to the Sheriffs department and demand that the person that assaulted you be charged. If indeed this action is taking place, a few prosecutions will soon end it.
This does not give anyone an excuse to bait the residents into getting arrested by cursing at them or trying to get a reaction from them. If you do this, you are worse than either Art or Bill. We must all work together to maintain the fragile peace that exists.
We will not ask that the sign stating the publics right to pass be re-installed. It would be a worthless thing to ask for because it would soon be vandalized. I know many of you will say, "Just persecute the ones tearing it down." The County will not spend the resources to put the sign under surveillance just to catch the person tearing it down and if we ask them to do so we will look like fools.
Some may criticize our lack of action in not getting the government more involved. But until we feel that there is a need to truly protect the public we will not, and we feel that is the case now. Over the years we have all heard the stories about Blackstar. The thing to remember is that no one has ever been injured or shot. Sometimes these stories take on a life of their own as they are passed from person to person.
We do not take lightly bringing the force of the government against anyone. Art and Bill have their opinion on the status of the road, because their opinion is different from the County's is no reason to take action against them. If you follow our suggestions we believe you will not have any problems riding through Blackstar.
We will not forward any emails in response to this email, please check our website under the link "Comments Received Regarding Blackstar Canyon." If you send and email in response to this one, you have agreed to have it posted on our website unless otherwise stated.
I thank Jim Meyer of Trails4All, and "Keeps Many Trails" and "Keeps His Word" of the Warrior's Society's Chief's Council for accompanying me to this meeting.
Please ride Blackstar in an attitude of peace and do not look for confrontation.
The following was sent by Chay Peterson, owner of Sprocket Head and a member of the Warrior' Society. She is writing in response to and email we sent to club members explaining the experience "KC" Christopherson had with Bill Studer in Blackstar.
It sounds to me like KC had an encounter with Bill Studer, I don't think Art drinks beer. Studer was sent to jail a few years back after Sherriff's investigators drove up the road in plain clothes and car in order to provoke him into his usual "greeting" ritual. When he rode up on his ATC threatening them,with a gun at his side and dogs behind him...he was taken away and incarcerated for a few weeks. After that he remained a little more subdued as we went by but yelled at us that we were trespassing. I thought the troubles had subsided, but unfortunately they obviously haven't! Art and Bill don't come into Silverado to show their faces...so I can't talk to them about these issues. Hopefully we can come to a peaceful agreement, but if it comes down to one of them going to jail, then need be I guess.
-Chay (tiptoes on two wheels)
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