Speeders, watch out! | TheUnion.com

Speeders, watch out!

Dan BurkhartFrom left: Rangers Donna Turner, Lt. Jeff Herman and Dave Colins stand in front of the vehicles they will be using to enforce the speed limit on roads near Empire Mine State Historic Park.
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In an effort to crack down on speeders this holiday season, California State Parks has decided to step up traffic enforcement near Empire Mine State Historic Park.

Effective Monday and at least through New Year’s, more state park rangers will be assigned to patrol East Empire Street, Highway 174, and other nearby streets, where speeding in an ongoing problem. The goal is to prevent accidents during the holiday season, when traffic traditionally increases near the park, park rangers said Friday.

Most of the accidents occur near the intersection of Highway 174 and East Empire Street, said Jeff Herman, supervising park ranger, Empire Mine State Historic Park.

Larry Clark, another supervising park ranger, said 40 to 50 people have been warned and a handful are cited every year.

No overtime will be necessary for the extra patrol, he said. Ten to 11 park rangers work at the Empire Mine State Historic Park, the South Yuba River State Park and the Malakoff State Historic Park, and staff can be moved from park to park, he said.

Herman and Clark said people forget that state park rangers are sworn officers. They have the same authority as California Highway Patrol officers, Herman said.

David Arntzen, a visitor at the Empire Mine State Historic Park Friday, is among those who know state park rangers can cite. Ten years ago, he said, a state park ranger ticketed him for keeping a detached license plate under his windshield at Folsom State Park. “I found about it that way,” said Arntzen, who is from Sacramento.

The job of a state park ranger can be dangerous. A ranger was shot this week while she patrolled the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County, state park officials reported. An illegal camper is a suspect in the shooting, they said.

The 800-acre Empire Mine Historic State Park receives an average of 90,000 to 100,000 visitors a year.

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