Workers in the employ of the neighboring property owner plug the historic “oil seep” along the Canyon Trail at Placerita Canyon State Park.
A conflict about property lines in Placerita Canyon has some local history enthusiasts up in arms.
A neighboring property owner, Samir Rustam, has damaged a historical site along the Canyon Trail in Placerita Canyon, according to Ron Kraus, vice president of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.
Kraus, a resident of Newhall, has been volunteering with the Placerita Nature Center since 2002 and serving as vice president since 2004.
Placerita Canyon is a state park leased by Los Angeles County. The site in question is an oil seep believed to be part of New Century Oil Well that was built around 1900, according to Leon Worden of SCVHistory.com.
> READ: History of Placerita’s unique “white oil” and the New Century oil well
Kraus said in a post on the Friends of Placerita Facebook group that “Rustam’s crew has sealed the historic oil seep; cut down large stands of native chaparral in the park; …and have installed a large ‘No Trespassing’ sign on park property. I have been informed by his workers that he intends to sell his property and the mineral rights to the highest bidder.”
Earlier this year, county Parks and Recreation Department workers began improving the Canyon Trail in Placerita Canyon to allow for mountain bikes.
They planned to label the oil seep with information about its history and construct a walkway around the site, because the oil and water bubbling onto the path was “annoying for hikers,” Kraus said.
Now a wood and concrete box surrounds the oil seep, with a pipe under the trail to carry the runoff water and oil to the other side.
Kraus said he didn’t believe this respected the history of the site.
The Parks and Recreation Department is looking into the matter.
“It’s frustrating because they don’t have the staff and budget to patrol the trails,” Kraus said.
“There’s oil seepage coming through the ground and it’s on the Canyon Trail,” said Regional Park Superintendent Russ Kimura. “It appears that the property owner is trying to prevent the feature of the oil seep to be exposed to the general public.”
“(We’re) trying to determine if it lies on county property or private property,” he said.
Kraus said he believed that the issue should be a high priority for the county and that a survey should be conducted to determine property lines.
Kimura described the issue as “nothing major.”
Kraus agreed that it’s not catastrophic, but “you’re not supposed to go on park property and start digging things up,” he said.
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