Hidden Falls expansion invades rural PlacerBy: Ty Rowe
Many in Placer County, from Granite Bay to the foothills, live in open, less densely populated areas. Those of us that do, know we are very fortunate and treasure our rural property and lifestyle. Is it this rural lifestyle and property, that we believe is being threatened. The Placer County Parks Commission is proposing a huge Hidden Falls Regional Park expansion. The purchase of a 50-acre parcel, zoned ag/residential on Bell Road in rural North Auburn would be the site of a large parking lot and trailhead. It will accommodate 100 vehicles and 40 horse trailer rigs and be open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year.
With the project’s urban recreation focus there would be bike rentals, commercial concessions and horse boarding facilities ... all this right in the middle of a quiet, safe, rural neighborhood. This grandiose plan by the county will shatter a serene agricultural community and end cattle grazing over several thousand acres.
“Protect Rural Placer,” a grassroots organization of neighbors across Placer County, is dedicated to protecting and preserving rural Placer County. We believe this proposed access and expansion of Hidden Falls Regional Park (HFRP) is detrimental to the environment, agriculture, traffic, fire safety, and the residents’ personal rights to keep their homes and property secure and safe.
You may have heard about the fiasco of traffic, illegal parking, trespassing, crime, and violation of privacy out on Mears Road, the entrance road to HFRP. Once a secluded, safe, rural neighborhood, it has suffered horrific consequences. Yet, the county is determined to move forward and do this to another rural neighborhood. The proposed parking lot at 5345 Bell Road will be accessed by Bell, Cramer and Lone Star Road. These are narrow, winding, hilly roads with blind corners and no shoulder. Cramer Road is so narrow it doesn’t even a have center line. These roads are far below adequate to handle the increased traffic of hundreds of vehicles, truck and trailer rigs and cyclists heading to and from the parking lot on Bell. Highway 49 between Lone Star and Cramer Road is already called “Blood Alley” due to the multiple accidents and fatalities.
With hundreds of cyclists, equestrians, and hikers visiting the park daily, and accessing trails that cross over “Big Hill,” the danger of wildfires will dramatically increase. There is also the likelihood of hikers camping overnight as well as the homeless setting up camps off the trail. All of this increases the risk of illegal trespassing, crime and wildfires for the hundreds of residents in rural North Auburn/Lincoln, that are within or surround the park’s trail network.
This project not only comes at a high cost to the North Auburn/Lincoln residents and agriculture, but also to the taxpayer. Though the majority of the people that currently use HFRP are from outside Placer County, we the Placer County taxpayers will foot the bill to purchase the 50 acres ($1,120,000) and pay for all the infrastructure of improving roads, tree removal, wells, septic system, construction of a parking lot, $2 million bridges across Racoon Creek, access roads, park facilities, trail building, staff, ongoing expenses and the cost for additional emergency responders that will be necessary. The County estimates the cost at $18 million!
Please go to ProtectRuraiPiacer.com to learn more about the HFRP access and expansion project and how you can join us in protecting and preserving rural Placer County. We urge you to sign the online petition, like us on Facebook, get involved, and voice your concerns to your supervisors.
Ty Rowe is a member of Protect Rural Placer and lives in Lincoln.