THOUSAND OAKS — Only two weeks into full-time access, popular hiking spot and waterfall swimming area Paradise Falls will close indefinitely after large crowds littered the area with truckloads of trash.
The Conejo Valley Open Space Conservation Agency announced the indefinite closure on Wednesday, May 27 stating, “record crowds broke down the sense of shared responsibility that makes safe park management and protection of the environment feasible.” The park will begin its closure on Friday, May 29.
Paradise Falls is located in Wildwood Park and opened for weekday use earlier this month as L.A. entered phase 2 of its COVID-19 response. Once Paradise Falls opened for weekend use on May 16, a high volume of tourists came to the spot and “behaved differently than they have in the past.”
COSCA’s press release describes how Paradise Falls is typically a quick scenic spot within Wildwood Park, but recently crowds have been visiting specifically for the waterfall and spend hours there. Although there are trashcans around Paradise Falls, people littered their trash leaving it for COSCA staff to clean up.
Every day over Memorial Day weekend COSCA rangers gathered several truckloads of trash near Paradise Falls. Up and downstream of the falls wetland vegetation was trampled and issues with human waste came as many used the surrounding area as a toilet.
Members of the Thousand Oaks Police Department will be monitoring the falls, but the rest of Wildwood Park’s trails will stay open.
On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend COSCA warned visitors to attend other trails due to the high volume of hikers in regards to COVID-19 social distancing.
“COSCA has worked diligently to encourage visitors to be respectful of the environment and fellow visitors, and to obey posted rules, but many have not answered these calls,” the agency said.
COSCA administrator Brian Stark says, “It’s easy so sit back and put the blame on somebody else, but the responsibility of caring for the Earth is everybody’s.”
Paradise Falls is not the only area to close recently. Eaton Canyon in Altadena was shut this past weekend as too many people were on the trails not following public health orders.
For more information on Wildwood Park’s trails and closures please visit http://www.conejo-openspace.org.