Big Brother on the Trails

Task Force Installs Cameras on Front-Country Trails

The hills have eyes these days, or at least a camera or two. Looking to get a better handle on who exactly is using the popular front-country trail system of the Santa Barbara foothills, the Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force — charged with the oversight and management of regular routes like Cold Spring, Rattlesnake, and Jesusita trails — has recently installed two motion-activated digital cameras. “Basically, we are trying to capture the type of user we get on the trails: Is it a hiker, is it a cyclist, or is it an equestrian?” explained Task Force member and city parks honcho Jill Zachary.

According to Zachary, the cameras went up last month on two trails — the exact location and actual trails hosting the cameras is undisclosed to prevent people from potentially skewing the data or stealing the cameras — and will be rotated periodically through mid October to capture images at the “tops and bottoms” of the aforementioned trails, as well as the Tunnel and Romero Canyon trails.

The Task Force, which is composed of folks from the city’s Parks Commission, the county Parks Commission, and Los Padres National Forest, hopes to have data from the first few months to dissect at their December meeting. The cameras, which Zachary assured take unrecognizable images of people beyond their trail usage medium of choice, are just a “preliminary” step as the Task Force works to better define who exactly uses the front-country trails in hopes of providing a better and more comprehensive management plan. “This really is a key component of the discussion that needs to happen,” summed up Zachary.

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