Why hours for the Puente Hills preserve may be reduced

NORTH WHITTIER >> With new, shorter hours in place at Hellman Park, the board that manages the Puente Hills preserve is looking to do the same at its five other trail heads.

The board members Thursday directed staff of the Puente Hills Habitat Authority to bring back at its June 22 meeting a plan to phase in specific hours at each of the trail heads over a period of time. Currently the trail heads are open from sunrise to sunset.

Hellman Park is now open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October through May and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June through September.

The authority’s five other trail heads include Arroyo Pescadero, Hacienda Hills, Powder Canyon, Sycamore Canyon and Turnbull Canyon.

Whittier Councilman Bob Henderson, who also is chairman of the authority’s board, said use in all areas of the park is just too much.

“When you get 900,000 visits a year, the preserve is under siege and it’s got to be cut back,” Henderson said. “If we don’t do anything, we’ll have a dead, sterile property.”

The increased use is eroding trails, putting pressure on wildlife and causing parking headaches, authority officials say.

Board members said they’re amazed at how many people are using the trails.

For example, the Hacienda Hills trail head has more people using it now than Hellman Park had when the Whittier City Council imposed a parking permit system, Henderson said. City officials had received complaints from nearby residents about too many people parking on their streets…

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