Thousands of picnickers and gold prospectors park every weekend along a two-lane road overlooking the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, then trundle down to the mountain creek with ice chests, boomboxes, shovels, sluice boxes and baby carriers strung with diapers.

They litter, light campfires, defecate in the wild, dig for gold and engage in many other banned activities along the river. U.S. Forest Service rangers try in vain to curtail the abuses but are hopelessly outnumbered. (Read the Full Story on the LA Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: As children play, piles of trash including styrofoam plates, food containers, diapers and plastic grocery bags accumulate across the ground, trashing the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Steve, who declined to give his last name, pans for gold as other miners use poles and cables to move rocks in the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Pastor Juan Morales, left, prays on the forehead of Biran Morales, after his water baptism with Jesus Fuente De Vida Eterna church in the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Pastor Juan Morales, left, baptizes Brian Morales, center, with Julio Fuentes, during a water baptism ceremony with Jesus Fuente De Vida Eterna church in the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Bernie McGrath known locally as the “Mayor of East Fork” hugs Paula Halfacre, holding a gold pan, before a friend takes their picture at a gold mining camp on the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Paula Halfacre poses for a portrait holding a pan with gold mined from the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Visitors splash around in the trashed East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: As other visitors play in the water, Pastor Juan Morales leads prayer with Jesus Fuente De Vida Eterna church on the banks of the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: A man carries a pump action BB gun as he walks past a makeshift campsite through the trashed East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: US Forest Service Police Officer Ishmill Lett, left, tries to calm down an aggravated man (who did not want his picture taken) who was cited for starting an illegal camp fire to cook hot dogs by the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. The man, who threatened the USFS fire prevention firefighter that spotted the fire, was warned that he could be arrested for threatening the USFS personnel. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: US Forest Service Police Officer Ishmill Lett, investigates a smash and grab robbery where a cell phone and purse was stolen near the West Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. Lett radioed in the cell phone number of the stolen phone to request a GPS track of the unit, however there is no cell service in the forest, so an immediate hit was not possible. If a location hit was found later, Lett planned to acquire a search warrant and try to find either security camera footage or other information that could lead to an arrest. With only a handful of officers to patrol the entire Angeles National Forest and no cellular telephone service, a multitude of police calls are received daily with thousands of visitors in the park. Broken glass from a series of similar thefts could be seen on the ground throughout the parking lot where Sunday’s theft occurred. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: US Forest Service Police Officer Ishmill Lett, investigates a smash and grab robbery where a cell phone and purse was stolen near the West Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. Lett radioed in the cell phone number of the stolen phone to request a GPS track of the unit, however there is no cell service in the forest, so an immediate hit was not possible. If a location hit was found later, Lett planned to acquire a search warrant and try to find either security camera footage or other information that could lead to an arrest. With only a handful of officers to patrol the entire Angeles National Forest and no cellular telephone service, a multitude of police calls are received daily with thousands of visitors in the park. Broken glass from a series of similar thefts could be seen on the ground throughout the parking lot where Sunday’s theft occurred. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Devin Lopez repacks belongings into his truck after camping gear was thrown to the side of the highway after the SUV overturned while taking a turn down Highway 39 near the San Gabriel Valley River leaving the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. His wife and driver Yvonne Lopez lost control of the vehicle on the corner, damaging the truck and spilling their belongings down the road. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries and they were able to turn the SUV upright with a passerby’s truck, but caused a massive blockage of the highway that US Forest Service personnel had to manage with the California Highway Patrol. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: The sun sets as tourists and firefighters drive down Highway 39 by the San Gabriel River leaving the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of picnickers and gold prospectors park every weekend along a two-lane road overlooking the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, then trundle down to the mountain creek with ice chests, boomboxes, shovels, sluice boxes and baby carriers strung with diapers.

They litter, light campfires, defecate in the wild, dig for gold and engage in many other banned activities along the river. U.S. Forest Service rangers try in vain to curtail the abuses but are hopelessly outnumbered. (Read the Full Story on the LA Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: As children play, piles of trash including styrofoam plates, food containers, diapers and plastic grocery bags accumulate across the ground, trashing the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Steve, who declined to give his last name, pans for gold as other miners use poles and cables to move rocks in the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Pastor Juan Morales, left, prays on the forehead of Biran Morales, after his water baptism with Jesus Fuente De Vida Eterna church in the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Pastor Juan Morales, left, baptizes Brian Morales, center, with Julio Fuentes, during a water baptism ceremony with Jesus Fuente De Vida Eterna church in the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Bernie McGrath known locally as the “Mayor of East Fork” hugs Paula Halfacre, holding a gold pan, before a friend takes their picture at a gold mining camp on the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Paula Halfacre poses for a portrait holding a pan with gold mined from the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Visitors splash around in the trashed East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: As other visitors play in the water, Pastor Juan Morales leads prayer with Jesus Fuente De Vida Eterna church on the banks of the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: A man carries a pump action BB gun as he walks past a makeshift campsite through the trashed East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: US Forest Service Police Officer Ishmill Lett, left, tries to calm down an aggravated man (who did not want his picture taken) who was cited for starting an illegal camp fire to cook hot dogs by the East Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. The man, who threatened the USFS fire prevention firefighter that spotted the fire, was warned that he could be arrested for threatening the USFS personnel. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: US Forest Service Police Officer Ishmill Lett, investigates a smash and grab robbery where a cell phone and purse was stolen near the West Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. Lett radioed in the cell phone number of the stolen phone to request a GPS track of the unit, however there is no cell service in the forest, so an immediate hit was not possible. If a location hit was found later, Lett planned to acquire a search warrant and try to find either security camera footage or other information that could lead to an arrest. With only a handful of officers to patrol the entire Angeles National Forest and no cellular telephone service, a multitude of police calls are received daily with thousands of visitors in the park. Broken glass from a series of similar thefts could be seen on the ground throughout the parking lot where Sunday’s theft occurred. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: US Forest Service Police Officer Ishmill Lett, investigates a smash and grab robbery where a cell phone and purse was stolen near the West Fork of the San Gabriel Valley River in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. Lett radioed in the cell phone number of the stolen phone to request a GPS track of the unit, however there is no cell service in the forest, so an immediate hit was not possible. If a location hit was found later, Lett planned to acquire a search warrant and try to find either security camera footage or other information that could lead to an arrest. With only a handful of officers to patrol the entire Angeles National Forest and no cellular telephone service, a multitude of police calls are received daily with thousands of visitors in the park. Broken glass from a series of similar thefts could be seen on the ground throughout the parking lot where Sunday’s theft occurred. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: Devin Lopez repacks belongings into his truck after camping gear was thrown to the side of the highway after the SUV overturned while taking a turn down Highway 39 near the San Gabriel Valley River leaving the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. His wife and driver Yvonne Lopez lost control of the vehicle on the corner, damaging the truck and spilling their belongings down the road. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries and they were able to turn the SUV upright with a passerby’s truck, but caused a massive blockage of the highway that US Forest Service personnel had to manage with the California Highway Patrol. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

Azusa, CA – Sunday, September 23, 2012: The sun sets as tourists and firefighters drive down Highway 39 by the San Gabriel River leaving the Angeles National Forest on Sunday, September 23, 2012 in Azusa, Calif. (Patrick T. Fallon/ For the Los Angeles Times)

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