Re "A Well-Worn Path Through Caspers Park," Feb. 6:
My family and I have enjoyed Caspers Park since 1984. I have been an equestrian trail rider in south Orange County since 1983. My husband currently serves as a volunteer equestrian with the Orange County Ranger Reserve program that patrols county parks and assists at county functions.
I have attended many meetings for committees regarding county trail matters. In addition, I assisted in putting on the recent equestrian run at Caspers Park referred to in the above-mentioned article.
The article's major part is anti-horse. It greatly overstates and inflames the relationship between cyclists and horseback riders.
The large color picture is captioned as "a trail damaged by horses." That is false. According to the head ranger at Caspers, John Gannaway, there was only small damage to one trail at the park, the Juaneno Trail. This is a narrow, single-track trail that will be repaired by hand by the organizers of the ride as soon as the trail dries sufficiently.
The trail in the picture is not the Juaneno Trail. The trail in the picture depicts the typical, usual condition of the wide trails at Caspers Park at this time of year. The trails always become rutted by rain run-off. In the spring, after the rains have stopped, the county brings bulldozers to the park to regrade the roads for the rest of the year.
I find that almost always cyclists are considerate, friendly trail companions willing to move over or slow down for me and my horse. I realize that Orange County is now a largely urban environment and that I will have to share the trails with everyone. I am quite willing to do so.
But don't try to exclude me, the horse rider, from using them because now there are more cyclists. The equestrian community has worked too long and too hard to get these recreational areas for all of us. I would hope that we could all work together and share together for a common goal.
LINDA A. COOPER
* As a member and co-founder of the Caspers Park Preservation Foundation I found your article to be irresponsible and inaccurate.
Our foundation directors include naturalists, equestrians, mountain bikers, environmentalists and other park enthusiasts. We work together toward a common goal respecting each other's diverse interests.
The Caspers Park Benefit Challenge did not damage the trails. Not one trail was "impassable" as [a bicyclist said]. To date, one individual has complained about the trails' condition following the event.
I spend many hours as a volunteer at Orange County parks. The so-called rivalry between equestrians and cyclists is nearly nonexistent.
The main complaint equestrians have about cyclists is they often approach silently from behind. It is important to remember that horses are herd animals and have the natural reaction to bolt or kick when startled in this manner, creating a distinct potential hazard for both cyclist and equestrian.
We need unity to preserve what remains of the wilderness area in Orange County. Most park supporters are aware of how important and precious our parks are. We should not be swayed by the vocal minority intent to split that unity.
SUE and EARL GRAHL
As a local equestrian, I was interested and dismayed at the article about trails at Caspers Park allegedly damaged by a recent equestrian event.
One photo was of a trail damaged not by hoof prints but by recent rains. The implication was that the ruts were caused by hoof prints. Impossible. Horses don't cause ruts; rainwater runoff does. I don't consider this truthful or responsible reporting.
The reality is that our county is getting so populated that we all must share the available trails. Hikers, bikers and equestrians need to get along. The issue of trail damage is a complex and technical one and does need to be addressed by all parties on several levels other than the obvious physical impact of increased use of the trails.
This equestrian event was held for the first time in December and at most would be repeated once a year. Large groups of bikers fill most Orange County parks every weekend. In fact, many equestrians feel literally run out of Whiting Ranch, Crystal Cove and Aliso and Wood Canyons parks by the bikes. So we like to ride at Caspers where our very safety is not threatened at blind corners and on single-track trails.
The county park rangers do an excellent job in preserving our trails. We who use the trails have to do our part. In fact, the sponsoring group of the event referred to in the article had a date scheduled to repair damage to the trails before the article came out. This same group has "adopted" a trail in Caspers to maintain.
San Juan Capistrano
After reading about mountain bikers who are concerned about trail damage caused by equestrians, the first thing that came to mind was the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black.