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City resolves to ask state parks to enforce nudity laws

State parks says it addresses complaints as they are received
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn City Council resolved to send a message to state parks officials regarding their enforcement of lewd acts along the American River. Councilman Kevin Hanley presented a resolution that was unanimously supported by all five council members at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. The resolution cites media attention to a stretch of beach along the American River that is a destination for nude sunbathers and, more recently, open-air sexual encounters. The resolution petitions the state parks superintendent and rangers to ensure that families can enjoy boating and rafting along the river “by making it absolutely clear that Section 4322 will be enforced on those sections of the river where boaters and rafters are likely to use the river.” Section 4322 of state law prohibits any person from appearing nude while in any unit except authorized areas determined by state parks, the resolution states. “It seems like the state department has taken a passive stance toward enforcing the law,” Hanley said Tuesday. “So I researched the law and thought it was a good idea for the city council to encourage the state department of parks and recreation to enforce the law.” Mike Lynch, sector superintendent for the Auburn State Recreation Area, said state parks rangers have a policy of responding to any type of illegal activity, including illicit sexual acts. He said there is a long-standing department policy that makes it a low priority to respond to complaints of nude sunbathing when it is done in remote areas not readily available to the public. Lynch said rangers respond to complaints as they are received, but can only issue a citation if they see illegal activity themselves. “We’re very aware of the concerns people have along the river,” Lynch said. “We have about 40 miles of river canyon on the north and middle forks. There’s a lot of remote area that doesn’t get patrolled at all unless there is some problem.” Hanley said the city would like to see state parks rangers make more of an effort to enforce the law rather than relying on citizen reports. “The main point of the resolution is to say the American River is really important to Auburn residents,” Hanley said. “We want (state parks) to find some way to enforce the law and not be dependent on citizens as law enforcement.” The area that has come under fire is a section of the river that used to be remote until it was opened last year following completion of a water pump construction project by the Placer County Water Agency. Lynch said last summer they did not receive an increase in complaints to the area despite its now more-public access. He added that the Auburn area state parks office has about one or two rangers on duty at a time to cover 20 or so miles of river. Weimar resident Andrea Rose said she would like to see more enforcement in the area. She said she likes to go hiking with her 10- and 11-year-old sons and their redbone coonhound. “It’s a beautiful site and I would love to take my two kids there without having to worry about what they might see,” Rose said. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.