The signs and pylons allegedly placed by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) last week to close off the entrance to Riverside Wilderness Park were fraudulent, according to The Trails for Creston Valley Society (TCVS) and ALC.
“I think someone is not happy with someone using that park and I don’t know why,” said Adam Mjolsness, secretary for TCVS.
The park’s property at 1031 Highway 21 was purchased by TCVS in 2018 in order to give community members official access to Goat River.
The sign that points to the entrance to the park, as well as the park’s parking sign, were both covered by “closed” notices allegedly issued by ALC. Pylons that had “ALC” written on them were also placed at the park’s entrance.
“It’s right on the highway. It’s an interesting choice of whoever did that because it really puts it into the public arena,” said Mjolsness.
He added that the park’s entrance sign had been put there three days before its cover-up.
“The problem was that it’s an unmarked driveway, and about the third of the people who go down there end up getting lost,” he said. “Finally, we decided to put up a small sign and my feeling is that those fraudulent signs were a reaction to advertising it and having more people down there.”
The entrance sign to Riverside Park was put in place three days prior to its illegal cover-up. (Photo courtesy of Loretta Fladhamer)
He said that the bogus signs and pylons were put into position by someone on Friday, Aug. 14 and were removed on Tuesday, Aug. 19 by a volunteer with TCVS, after a representative from ALC confirmed to the group that the signs were fraudulent.
Creston RCMP was also on-site on Monday, Aug. 18 to investigate the incident.
The trail society was made aware of the fraudulent signs immediately after they were put up, after receiving messages from confused residents.
Mjolsness described his initial reaction to the signs as frustrated, highlighting that the society had spent years working to have official river access in place.
“Because it’s an official process, we are having patience with that timeframe. The frustrating thing is that whoever put up the signs is not having patience with the official process,” he said. “They decided to take matters into their own hands in some maverick style.”
“I would just urge people to think about their fellow citizens. When you’re in a heatwave – the indoor pool is closed, it’s in the upper 30s – people need to go swimming,” he said.
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