The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to open the 17-acre Woodbridge Wilderness Area every weekend during summer months, for the first time since a devastating fire in 2008.
The county's parks department and budget staff will begin devising a way to keep the wilderness area open for 18 consecutive weekends. Supervisor Ken Vogel said the area must have constant supervision during operating hours while still adhering to the parameters of a tight park department budget.
If volunteers, county staff or law enforcement cannot supervise the park, staff will have the authority to close the wilderness area, Vogel said.
The wilderness area, located behind the Del Rio and River Meadows subdivisions between Woodbridge Road and the south bank of the Mokelumne River, is a popular fishing, bird-watching and hiking location. But after a fire in September 2008, which scorched the trees and other plant life, the park closed due to safety concerns and later remained closed because of budget cuts.
For many years, residents have been concerned about safety in the wilderness area as a result of reduced hours.
River Meadows residents complained about wilderness area visitors partying and littering near their front yards. Residents with ongoing concerns, along with park volunteers hoping to extend the wilderness area hours, spoke in front of the supervisors Tuesday.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office has worked with park staff to secure the area since it reopened in 2011.
The Sheriff's Office would provide additional manpower to help supervise during the new hours.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.