Cal Fire is warning people that Whitewater Canyon is off limits during the summer.
Local law enforcement are stepping patrol in the area, and trespassers could face citations or fines.
Albert Martinez said he goes to the canyon regularly during the summer to watch the local wildlife. He said he sees many people violating the no trespassing signs posted in the area.
“Sometimes on Sunday the people come and make a huge mess, and I’ve seen trash. They leave their umbrellas, ice chests and such,” said Martinez.
Cal Fire and the Bureau of Land Managements said the area is off limits during the summer because of fire danger. But they said few people actually follow the rules.
Martinez said he never wanders past the signs.
But according to Cal Fire, just stopping your car on this road could get you a $100 ticket and kicked off the property.
Unless your going up to the Whitewater Preserve, you should stay out of the area, fire officials said.
“We check all the areas. So whether you’re at the waterfront area or the roadside and you see it’s a restricted area, you can be cited,” said Captain Fernando Herrera with Cal Fire.
The crackdown comes after a man drowned in the Whitewater River near Interstate 10 on Saturday.
According to Herrera, firefighters aren’t just worried visitors might drown or start fires, but that they may get in the way when crews are working.
“That limits our ability to get there much quicker, plus it also poses a safety factor for us for people lingering in the area,” said Herrera.
Other parts of the canyon will remain open. The non-profit group The Wildlands Conservancy will keep the Whitewater Preserve open for the summer. People can get their feet wet and play in the water up at the preserve where the currents aren’t strong.
The Conservancy also has its own patrols to monitor the area and make sure no one is smoking or lighting campfires or barbecues.
A representative said visitors will get turned away if the parking lot is full.
Martinez said that might be why some choose to ignore the rules.
Herrera said the area will re-open later this year.