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Nudists, park rangers battle over Camp Pendleton beach

July 26, 2011 |  4:05 pm

Photo: A couple walks down Trail Six at San Onofre State Beach. Nude sunbathers often gather in that area. Credit: Los Angeles Times A strip of beach on Camp Pendleton is the latest flashpoint between nudists and state park rangers.

The nudists say zealous rangers have followed them onto the federal property in an effort to cite them for violating the state’s coverup laws. A spokesman for the state park system denies the allegation.

The beach is directly south of San Onofre State Beach, which has been the object of litigation between nudists and officialdom. Two years ago a court ruled that the state has the authority to ban nudity at so-called Trail Six, long a spot favored by nudists.

Trail Six is only a short walk from Gold Beach, which is owned and used by the Marine Corps, including for amphibious assault training.

The Marine Corps says it does not want any civilians -- naked or clothed -- on its beach. Signs warn sunbathers to stay away.

But in an effort to avoid park rangers at San Onofre State Beach, nudists have ventured south. An apparent confrontation a week ago, the details of which are in dispute, between a nudist, rangers and military police has brought the issue to a head.

John Squicciarini of San Clemente says a friend of his, Andy Pollock, had his camera grabbed by a Marine, who was apparently working in tandem with park rangers. The Marine Corps says it has no record of such an occurrence.

Squicciarini says park rangers have been provoking the nudists by hiding behind bushes and up on the bluff, spying on them with binoculars and cameras.

“The state park rangers are creating their own problem,” he said. “It’s very childish.”

Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, disputes this version of events. “We’re not chasing anybody,” he said.

The state leases the property that is San Onofre State Beach from the Marine Corps.

A Marine spokesman said state park rangers are allowed to cross into Gold Beach to tell beach-goers that they are trespassing and should vamoose. The Marine Corps also does periodic patrols to clear away trespassers, said 2nd Lt. Ryan K. Welsh.

"Civilians without Department of Defense authorization may not cross onto the Camp Pendleton side of the beach, regardless of their beach use intention,” Welsh said.

The issue of nudity at San Onofre State Beach, as it has in the past, may land in court.

A handful of citations are pending in San Diego County Superior Court, with lawyers at the ready.


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Photo: A couple walks down Trail Six at San Onofre State Beach. Nude sunbathers often gather in the area. Credit: Los Angeles Times