Well, my safari into darkest Sespe Creek turned out to be without drama.

I departed my truck at approximately 3 p.m. Saturday under clear skies, with temperature about 90 degrees.
With my pith hat, boots, walking staff, full water bottles, and machete, I left the security of the truck and stepped into a weed infested area leading to the edge of Sespe Creek.

After about a 5-minute trek to the willow thicket surrounding the creek, I paused to listen for any sign of predators. No beasts were to be heard, not even a barking dog, so I cautiously stepped further into the willows. It then appeared that nothing was to be seen in the creek but willows, millions of them. There were so many willows that it was impossible to see more than a few feet into the uninhabited wilds of Sespe Creek.

I understand that the Sespe is a "navigable" river by legal fiat, but it will take about 15 inches of rain to prove it. Dry as a desert bone, the drought has made the southern part of the creek practically inaccessible to hikers, or large beasts for that matter. The creek's southern entry area is choked with willows and other wild growth. Even a mosquito would have a hard time of it.

However, the present physical condition of the creek does not change its legal status as a constitutionally protected public recreation area. No one is permitted to prohibit or block access to the public, at any time.

Authorities have notified me that Ventura County is responsible for the new steel cable fence. From a legal point of view it matters not at all who is responsible for putting it up. Anything prohibiting or blocking access to Sespe Creek is unlawful and must be removed. I will continue to research the remedies for barrier removal.

The fence was created in order to prevent the historic problem of discarded trash. That has always been a serious problem. I don't, however, see how the fence improves the situation. I noticed all 5 trash barrels were full to overflowing, though the grounds did seem cleaner than usual. But the fence does not reduce the trash problem which is caused by slobs who do not care for this environment; but cameras and fines might do the job without obstructing access. Restricted fire truck access now becomes an issue as well.

The fence does cause other problems. It forces all vehicles to park onto the roadway, where before they could park onto the gravel area facing the creek. This also makes it more difficult for vehicles to turn around, and seriously limits the number of cars that can conveniently use the space. Parking should also be facilitated for those wishing to hike overnight, or for trailers. The fence congests the area which will be used by more visitors every year.

Well, I emerged unharmed from darkest Sespe about 100 yards from my entry - which was minimal. The problem of public access to Sespe Creek remains. But like MacArthur, I shall return, until the issue is resolved - probably with the first heavy rainstorm.