Arroyo Walkers: Pay Attention!

Apr 4, 2011

Thanks to Pasadena historian, writer and Arroyo resident Ann Scheid for letting us know about the issue that’s been brewing in the lower Arroyo watershed area. There’s been some tension between the Pasadena Roving Archers and walkers—the archers, understandably, want to have lots of space to shoot arrows without fear of hitting people (or dogs), and many walkers say the trails that wend through archer territory are the prettiest in the Arroyo, and they should be able to pass through.

The issue will come before the city tomorrow, when the Recreation & Parks Commission meets to discuss the Archers’ annual use permit. They pay $1,000 a year for use of 18 acres in the lower Arroyo. At issue is whether walkers will get rights to walk those trails, perhaps at certain times of day.

The Roving Archers are an active bunch, and they’re expected to have a good turnout at the meeting. There’s no organized group for walkers, so Scheid and friends are getting the word out: If you walk the Arroyo and want to have a say in how the public lands are used, consider attending the meeting.

By the way, as part of gathering data for the meeting, Scheid and some fellow walking volunteers stationed themselves in the parking lot at various times of day, seven days a week, to get an estimate of how many people walk in the Arroyo. She says it came out an average of a person a minute, no matter the time of day or the day of the week. That’s 60 walkers an hour passing the parking lot. Dogs not included.

Recreation & Parks Commission Meeting
Tuesday, April 5, 6 p.m.
Pasadena Senior Center, 85 E. Holly St., Old Pasadena
Agenda posted here

6 Responses for “Arroyo Walkers: Pay Attention!”

  1. Jim MacQuarrie says:

    I personally find it a little appalling that a historian of Ms Scheid’s standing does not appreciate or respect the historic nature of the PRA range. It is the oldest field archery range in the world, and its founding members constitute the Who’s Who of the sport. The modern compound bow was invented here by Joe Caldwell. The greatest archer of modern times, Howard Hill, who did all the trick-shooting in Erroll Flynn’s “Robin Hood,” was a member in the ’40s. Three-time Olympian Janet Dykman practiced here. The PRA range has been in existence since 1935; it is older than many of our historic landmarks.

    The problem here is that there is simply no safe way to walk through the middle of an archery range; would the people who insist on walking there also insist on wading in the Casting Pond or walking through the golf course or the lawn-bowling field or any other designated recreational area?

    There are over 20 miles of hiking trails in the Arroyo. There are over 540 acres of open space in Pasadena parks. The area in question, which is NOT an officially-designated hiking trail, is less than 1/3 of a mile long. It is illegal for anyone to shoot a bow anywhere in the city other than the archery range. The area is designated for that purpose, and is identified as such in dozens of official city documents and publications. Are these people really so arrogant that they can’t use the designated hiking trail that runs parallel to it less than 50 feet away? Why do they have to walk through this particular spot, when there are much nicer trails available? (Such as the ones in the Memorial Grove, where the other archery range used to be until the neighbors got it shut down in 1975.)

    A little research will reveal that this same issue, with the very same people leading the complaints, has been brought to the city previously in March of 1990. The issue was thought settled then. It’s an archery range. The city has designated it as such. There is no safe way to walk through an archery range. The proposal being made now will effectively destroy this 75-year-old city institution, for no good reason. I would hope that the people of Pasadena are smarter than that.

  2. Jeremy Bishop says:

    I am a hiker, Arroyo walker and archer (not a member of PRA) and appreciate all side of the issue. Yes, the PRA land is a very pretty section of the Arroyo, but a walker can easily enjoy the scenery from the main trail without getting in the way of the archers. Walkers also have full access to the opposite side of the creek. As Jim MacQuarrie points out, the archers have no other place to go and walkers have many options. To suggest that PRA open their grounds to walkers and runners is just an accident waiting to happen – and would essentially mean the end of archery in Pasadena as soon as the first accident occurs and inevitable lawsuit is filed. The probable outcome of all this arrogance by walkers is that PRA will be required by the city to fence their lease land and ruin the scenery for everybody.

    I urge Colleen Bates and Ann Scheid to take a more responsible look at this issue based on common sense and the entire community rather than narrow personal bias.

  3. Colleen Dunn Bates says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jeremy. I was not making the case that the archers don’t have the right to use the area. I was just encouraging walkers to participate in the city meeting as much as the archers, who are more organized. I am a regular Arroyo walker, and I stay away from the archers when they are present, and understand that they have every right to be there.

    The point was simply to encourage a two-sides dialogue before a new operating permit is granted, to make sure that the archers have their fair use AND the walkers have their fair use. There is room for both in the beautiful lower Arroyo.
    Colleen Bates

  4. Barbara Ellis says:

    I’ve walked in the Arroyo for 10 years, and was frustrated that I couldn’t make the meeting, which I only learnt about after seeing a notice in the Arroyo on the day. I know a group like the PRA will be very vocal in defending its territory, and we walkers are a diverse bunch. The Roveing Archers do have rather a large part for the Arroyo for their sport, which is a no-go zone for walkers because of the danger of being hit by one of those lethal-looking crossbows. There was no conflict in earlier years, but many more archers are down there now, especially in the evenings, even in twilight (when I am there in the hopes they’ll have gone home). Of course, there are also many more walkers, as news of the area has spread on the internet. I hope a compromise can be reached – and perhaps the archers could be asked to stop at sunset. That doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me.

  5. Jim MacQuarrie says:

    Barbara, there are not and have never been crossbows on the range; that’s illegal and there are signs posted to that effect. The PRA does not have a “rather large area; the Lower Arrowo encompasses at least 70 acres (various pages at the city’s website give numbers ranging from 70 to 150 acres); the PRA currently uses about 12.5 acres on a regular basis and another 5.5 acres on 13 occasions per year. That means they take up at most 18% of the park; compare that to the amount of land used by Kidspace in the Central Arroyo or soccer fields in virtually every park in town. Additionally, there is a designated hiking trail that goes along the edge of the range, where it is perfectly safe to walk. The current dispute centers on a short stretch of land, about 1300 feet long, that passes between the shooting positions and the targets. This path, which is not on the city’s map and is not designated as a trail in any official documents, is one that some people insist on using even though it is dangerous. Some of them walk there deliberately in order to provoke a conflict with the archers, which is what led to the current situation.

    It’s worth noting that the photo shown at the top of this page was taken on the east side of the channel, where archery is prohibited, and where some of the nicest trails in the Arroyo can be found. Why anyone would want to walk on the archery range when the wooded trail through the Memorial Grove is there, that’s beyond me.Go take a look. The trail starts on Arroyo Blvd at California St., then winds down through the woods and meadows, there’s a bench in a shady nook, then it meanders to the casting pond, across the access road and then continues up to the Colorado Street bridge. It’s gorgeous, and there’s not an archer anywhere near it.

    There is enough room for everyone to enjoy the Arroyo, if they don’t demand to all use the same spot. The archers are prohibited by law from practicing anywhere but the range, and the hikers have literally hundreds of miles of options throughout the city. Why do they need this particular spot?

  6. Rabbit says:

    Am getting to this party late but:

    “…Scheid and some fellow walking volunteers stationed themselves in the parking lot at various times of day, seven days a week, to get an estimate of how many people walk in the Arroyo. She says it came out an average of a person a minute, no matter the time of day or the day of the week. That’s 60 walkers an hour passing the parking lot. Dogs not included.”

    Not true exactly true. Sheid was seen with her clipboard down there for a couple hours on a couple days. She may have had friends “stationed” in the parking lot occasionally, but the fact is that the Roving Archers conducted a much more formal and thorough study, ALL day for 7 days, at a vantage point where all trails could be seen (including the hotly contested imaginary trail,) and found that only a tiny tiny amount of people use the imaginary trail- mostly Sheid and friends. It also concluded that something like 1/3 to 1/2 the dogs in the Arroyo are off-leash. Including the ones that people knowingly let run across the archery range. Smart.

    Anyway, it turned out that pretty much everyone at the meeting agreed that it’s confusing, dangerous and frankly perplexing why anyone would propose a mixed-use scenario. Sheid was outvoted by all present. Am sure this won’t faze self-proclaimed plutocrats like her one bit, as this is now no longer an issue of safety or natural beauty, but of ego and of those who are used to getting what they want, completely denying the egg so clearly on their faces.



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