On April 01, 2016, KRB met with Tricia Maki of the USFS and Matt Volpert of Kern River Outfitters at the Johnsondale Bridge parking lot to view and discuss the Limestone put in. The problem remains the jagged rocks protruding 4-6" in the concrete path to the river, creating a hazardous obstacle course for those seeking access to the river — including boaters carrying heavy kayaks or rafts. Injuries have been reported from the twisting of ankles and tripping and falling.
There are two ideas to improve the path: (1) Make the path smooth, probably by pouring additional concrete to cover the rocks; (2) Install two handrails in the center of the path that would double as boat ramps.
KRB pointed out that installing handrails alone would not be enough to remedy the hazard posed by the path. Handrails would force those who use them to follow a straight line down the path and thus make them negotiate and step onto and over the uneven rocks. Handrails could also impart a false sense of security as the path is negotiated. Handrails would likely lesson but not eliminate the occurrences of tripping and twisting.
KRB believes smoothing the pathway offers the greatest and most inclusive public benefit, and should be the first priority of the USFS. Make no mistake, handrails that double as boat ramps could add to this benefit, and the space estimated by Mr. Volpert that would be required between the rails for a raft ramp appears to work for kayaks (ramped perpendicularly) as well.
Ms. Maki is the senior Ranger in the field for the Upper Kern. She was a prime mover in the camping restrictions which have curbed the trash problems on the Upper and will be spearheading the coming push to make the Sequoia NF glass-free. Ms. Maki understands the problem with the Limestone put in and will be working with engineers and seeking funding to rectify it. Please let her know you appreciate and support her efforts on the Limestone put in and, if you agree with KRB, let her know that she should prioritize the smoothing of the pathway.