Protecting a crown jewel, Wildwood Canyon State Park

Living in San Bernardino County makes one quickly appreciate the region’s diverse communities, rich history, and layers of astounding natural beauty. Tucked in between the San Bernardino Mountains andthe desert, San Bernardino County offers a range of majestic landscapes that make its existing open spaces – like Wildwood Canyon State Park and Pisgah Peak – worth celebrating, visiting, and most importantly, protecting.

My passion for beauty and nature clearly derives from my own Mexican Native American background.As an indigenous Chicano/Latino born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles, I did not readily grow up around natural spaces. Concrete ran along our streets, interconnected our homes, and surrounded our small, city-sized parks. Even the mostly nondescript channel shores of the Los Angeles River, just a mile from my childhood home, were paved with barren and bone-dry concrete. And while there was always a bustling energy that I enjoyed, the lack of open space in our community did deprive me of experiencing and understanding the beauty of the great outdoors at an early age, as well as the flora and fauna that
comes with it.

As an adult I now know how essential these open spaces are, and feel an intrinsic need to protect and preserve places like Wildwood Canyon – especially as a large radio tower project currently threatens its wondrous landscape.

After residing in San Bernardino County for nearly two decades, it is clear to me this park is one of San Bernardino County’s most coveted pieces of open space. The 900-acre park offers a multitude of natural
and cultural resources. It is home to a collection of native plants and animal species, as well as a culturally significant Native American site. Moreover, with hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails
across the park’s grasslands and hillsides, visitors can experience wide-scale panoramic views of the natural world around them. It’s a truly breathtaking place.

This is why it pains me to know that the park is still under attack by Lazer Broadcasting Inc., a non-local company aiming to build a four-story radio tower directly adjacent to Wildwood Canyon. After years of
fighting against the San Bernardino County community, Lazer has continued to try to push their development plans forward, which would leave the park’s vistas forever damaged.

This cannot and should not happen. Moving forward with this project will ruin the “WOW!” factor for park visitors– that jaw-dropping moment, where one is overwhelmed by the beauty of the untouched
landscape around them.

On March 20, the project will be before the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors for a vote. To keep San Bernardino County’s beauty alive, we must protect its crown jewel, Wildwood Canyon State Park. It is my hope that the community’s voice is heard and the project is finally taken off the table.

Enrique G. Murillo, Jr. Ph.D.
Professor, California State University San Bernardino

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