Bear River Campground will remain open this summer

By: Tom Durkin
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After meeting stiff resistance from Weimar-Applegate-Colfax Municipal Advisory Council members, the Placer County Parks and Grounds Division announced Wednesday it will not close the Bear River Campground to overnight camping this summer. Due to county budget cuts, county Parks Administrator John Ramirez had last month suggested converting the campground to day use only. However, the council unanimously refused to endorse the idea and asked Ramirez to return with an alternative plan. On Wednesday night, Ramirez told the advisory council that his department had found a way to keep the campground open for overnight camping, but he cautioned that there would be a reduced level of service in maintaining the popular recreation area. Council members Lynn Tausch and Richard Taliaferro both said they had spoken with people who were willing to volunteer to help the county keep the park clean. Ramirez said the county is willing give it a try this summer to see how it works out – provided there are no other budget cuts. In addition to lowered maintenance services, Ramirez had expressed concern that budget cuts have reduced the county’s ability to provide public safety patrols at night. The campground has a reputation of campers holding wild parties that require law enforcement intervention. At last month’s council meeting, Lt. John Arrabit, commander of the Gold Run CHP station, said he would include the campground in patrol assignments to help Placer County Sheriff’s deputies keep an eye on the area. In other business, Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery and her assistant Robert Haswell informed the council they were working with the county Public Works Division to persuade Caltrans to reopen an emergency-only exit ramp on eastbound I-80 just east of Colfax. The exit is needed to reduce response time to the Cape Horn area. Because construction is scheduled on the roadway this summer, this is the ideal time to convince Caltrans to reopen the exit ramp. “We’re willing to push it up to the level [of Caltrans bureaucracy] where we get to yes,” Montgomery pledged. She stressed, however, that the ramp would be locked and accessible only for emergency vehicles. Finally, council members voted to change the start of the meeting from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was also decided to hold quarterly meetings in the Applegate or Weimar area. While the location has yet to be decided, the council will meet at an alternative site in June, September, December and March. The hope is to attract more citizen participation. At Wednesday’s session, only one member of the public attended.