NBC 7 recently obtained an image of an illegible sign that may explain why dozens of mountain bikers were recently cited for riding on federal land.
The photo from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar shows a sign covered by what looks like brown paint-ball pellets, making it illegible. When initially posted, the sign marked the beginning of government property in an area popular with hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers.
In January, approximately 45 bikes and 3 motorcycles were confiscated on MCAS Miramar property, which spans over 23,000 acres north of downtown San Diego. Many of the riders cited by U.S. Marines claimed not to be aware they were riding on base property.
“Everybody that got caught, and I was one of them all, had the same question: ‘What? We didn’t see any signs. We've been riding out here for years,’” said mountain biker Darren Lachel.
Each rider was detained, had his or her bicycle seized and received a fine for $500.
USMC 1st Lt. Matthew Gregory told NBC 7 the base hopes better signage will deter and educate individuals who illegally enter the property.
“We are currently looking at adding signage around the base perimeter as well as working with organizations, like the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, to identify key traffic areas and place more signage there,” said Gregory.
At the same time, MCAS Miramar officials say there will be more military police patrolling base property to deter trespassers.
On Thursday, the base officially stated the presence of MPs will be on the borders east of Interstate 805 and north of State Route 52 as well as the East Miramar training areas. They warned individuals to not enter the areas. If caught doing so, individuals may be cited and subject to federal fines.