Direct link to this page: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/CovertCanyon
- Forest Service Map of "Kearchoffer Flat" (site of Covert Canyon):
Note that the site is just over the hill from the community at the end of Lawson Valley Rd.
- Satellite Image of the site - Landing strip is in the center of this view. Shooting range targets are located at the lower (southern) end of the airstrip and to the east of the strip about halfway along it. This satellite image appears to have been shot prior to the grading by Halcon.
- See Covert Canyon Video Tour, in media section, below.
- These APNs were sold to Marc Halcon, an unmarried man on August 31, 2005, by Michael A. Dolan and Diane E. Dolan (Doc: 2005-0755176):
|| (19150 High Glen Rd, Alpine)
|| 38.52 acres
|| Zone: AG-Preserve.
|| Use: Mobile Home
|| Value: $682,000
|| (Glen Lonely Truck Trail, Alpine)
|| 40 acres
|| Zone: AG-Preserve
|| Use: non-irrigated 11-40
|| Value: $400,000
|| (19150 High Glen, Alpine)
|| 40 acres
|| Zone: AG
|| Use: AG-Preserve-Contract
|| Value: $28, 311
|| (Lawson Valley Rd)
|| 38.82 acres
|| Zone AG
|| Use: Non-irrigated 11-40
|| Value: $304,000
- All of these properties were transferred via quit claim from Marc Halcon to Covert Canyon, LLC on January 1, 2006 (Doc: 2006-00011728).
- Covert Canyon, LLC, belongs to Marc Halcon.
- American Shooting Center, also owned and operated by Halcon, leased the Covert Canyon LLC properties in 2005 (sorry missed the exact date) (Doc: 2005-0755180).
- One of the documents in the loan package is called “Hazardous Substances Certification and Indemnity.” Halcon agrees that there will be no hazardous materials on the property (Doc: 2005-0755179). Did he have his fingers crossed when he signed this?
- Down at good ole DPLU, Project Processing ran all the APNs, Covert Canyon LLC, and Marc Halcon through their system. There is no application/project/permits for the Covert Canyon LLC properties, except a permit for some minor grading and a domestic well (applicant John R. West) on APN 521-130-05-00.
How did this project get up and running without any County oversight?
- He bought the property from Dolan as described above. The airstrip was pre-existing.
- He asked the county what was required to operate the site as a shooting range. They said they weren't sure, but he should ask the Sheriff.
- Halcon asked the Sheriff and was told that if he catered only to law enforcement and military (not the general public) then his location looked safe and he needed nothing else.
- The County gave him a laundry list of requirements, one of them was a grading plan and permit.
- Halcon admits that he erred when he did not get the required grading permits.
- In January or February, 2007, the county investigated Halcon's neighbor. At that time, they notified Halcon that he would have to put an "X" on the airstrip to mark it as non-operational. Halcon did this. It seems they didn't have a problem with his "grading" at that time. At this point, the County was aware of the situation at Covert Canyon.
- Raymond Lutz received an unsolicited email about Covert Canyon, as follows:
To Whom It May Concern:
The overwhelming attention which Black Water is receiving regarding its training facility in Potrero has actually allowed another entity to continue down the same exact path as Black Water, but without any public notice whatsoever. Oddly enough this other facility’s name is ‘Covert Canyon’, located in Alpine, and can be found on a very recently constructed website at www.covertcanyon.com. Details:
1. Covert Canyon is owned and operated by Mark Halcon, who is also the owner of American Shooting Center off the I-15 in Kearny Mesa.
2. Mark Halcon and Eric Prince (owner of Blackwater) are both personally very wealthy and are using their money to build private armies.
3. Like Prince, Halcon owns a number of subsidiary security companies. Some time ago Halcon specifically bought ‘International Training Unit’ (ITU) to run contractors (mercenaries?) overseas. Recently he purchased another east coast-based contractor company called the ‘Recce Group’ (www.reccegroup.com) to expand his operations to compete with Black Water. An article on Halcon was actually posted to Sign On San Diego
.Com on June 3, 2004 titled, “Private Body Guards are Essential in Iraq.” It can be found at http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040603/news_1n3guard.html
4. A while ago Black Water actually made Halcon an offer to buy Covert Canyon and Halcon said no.
5. Because of Covert Canyon’s relatively remote location (not unlike Potrero), Halcon decided to develop his training facility without going through any of the county development process – the same process which is plaguing Black Water. As an example, check out the Alpine’s Planning Group website at www.alpineplanninggroup.org. There is not one single mention of American Shooting Center, Covert Canyon, or Mark Halcon in any of the planning group’s meeting minutes between 2003 and 2007.
6. Recently several residents in Alpine have started complaining about the gunshot noise coming from Covert Canyon.
I send this information to you not as an attempt to take the heat off Black Water but so that people understand that there are apparently other entities out there who are on the same exact path and are getting away with it by hiding in Black Water’s shadow.
- I asked Halcon if Blackwater had approached him regarding Covert Canyon, and he said they had. The word through Jerry Vendeweghe of Dennis Hollingsworth 's office, is that Blackwater denies offering to purchase Covert Canyon.
- Halcon says once he rebuffed Blackwater, they started the Potrero project.
- The name "Eric Trumbly" in the email above, is probably a bogus name. But it is interesting that the writer of the email somehow knew about the discussions between Blackwater and Halcon. It seems only an associate of Blackwater would know this, and they struggled to cover their tracks with the use of "Black Water" and "Eric Prince" instead of Blackwater and Erik Prince.
- After public outcry, the County first said they knew nothing about it, then had to back up and say they knew about this for months.
Articles and Media:
- Shooting range owner cuts ties to Blackwater -- Anne Krueger, Union Tribune, 2008-04-29
- Canyon shooting range gains planners' OK; concerns remain -- Anne Krueger, Union Tribune, 2008-01-26
- Paramilitary Training Camps Forum -- Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, 2007-08-12 Presentations by Wind Zero, Covert Canyon, and about Blackwater, discussion following.
- Covert Canyon Video Tour -- Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, 2007-06-05 Covert Canyon
- Stop Blackwater Presentation -- Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, 2007-06-01
- County Ceases Canyon’s Covert Operation -- Miriam Raftery, East County Californian, 2007-05-31 Covert Canyon's owner has been linked to Blackwater.
- Owner: Site being targeted -- Anne Krueger, Union Tribune, 2007-05-26 He says Covert Canyon has been wrongly tied to Blackwater's plans
- Backcountry Revitalization meeting -- Raymond Lutz, Citizens Oversight, 2007-05-18 Dianne Jacob admits to private meeting with Blackwater and Duncan Hunter in May, 2006