Citizens were advised in a public announcement Wednesday that an area near the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony just outside Temecula that has been used in the past for recreational shooting is now off limits.
The area, an unmaintained dirt road extension south of Pauba Road at the intersection of Highway 79 South, has been deemed private property, said Riverside County sheriff's Lt. Matthew Aveling in a news release. Those who enter the land are in violation of state and county criminal trespassing laws, he said.
"The dirt extension leads to an area utilized for recreational shooting," Aveling said. "Historically, this has been perceived as an area located on land under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The public has utilized this area to target shoot believing their activities were being done lawfully on BLM controlled land which allows for public access and the lawful discharge of firearms."
The Southwest Sheriff's Station conducted extensive research into the matter based on noise complaints from citizens in the area, Aveling said.
"A cooperative effort between BLM, the county of Riverside, Dorland Arts Colony and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department has revealed through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping that the area currently utilized is situated on private property," Aveling said in the public announcement.
Dorland Mountain Arts Colony Manager Jill Roberts told Patch Wednesday she has worked closely with sheriff's deputies for the past several months on the issue.
"They have been very responsive," Roberts said.
She described the Colony, which encompasses 300 acres of property, as a nonprofit organization that provides a retreat for artists and writers seeking quiet and solitude. Artists can rent cottages for a week or several months, she said.
About 10 acres are used for the retreat, located at 36701 Highway 79 South, while the remaining are set aside as a nature preserve, she said.
"People come here to work on their art or writing in quiet," Roberts said. "They look forward to the solitude here. The misunderstanding the shooters have had is that they thought they were on BLM property."
Roberts said the problem has grown in the past year, which prompted her and a few other nearby neighbors to take the issue up with authorities.
"A little bit here and there didn’t bother us but something happened this last year. They built a dump down there and have filled it with trash and it has become a huge fire hazard; we had a huge fire here in 2004."
The Colony has slowly started rebuilding after the historic artists' retreat dating back to the 1930s was destroyed in that fire.
Roberts said the recent increase in unwelcome visitors to the property was starting to interfere with the Colony's mission.
"To make a long story short we are just trying to recapture our land and keep it clean and quiet."
As of Wednesday, sheriff's officials said entering onto the land from the roadway violates private property owner's rights and is in violation of Riverside County Ordinance 10.12.010 and California Penal Code 602.
"The Riverside County Sheriff's Department would like to...preserve the rights of property owners and firearms enthusiasts alike," Aveling said.
"Members of the community should take this opportunity to educate friends and family members about the above-listed information to avoid unintentionally participating in unlawful behavior," he said.
The lieutenant said anyone with questions regarding this public announcement may contact him at 951-696-3000.
The protected area is shown in the attached PDF file.