Wednesday Feb 01 2012
Bear River trail proposed
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
Sierra Vista Center seeks input on hiking needs
Hiking trails along the Bear River should be easier to find soon. And if trail proponents get their way, there may someday be even more places for locals to hike. The Sierra Vista Community Center in Colfax plans to inventory and map existing trails, as well as identify the need for more trails. In late February, the center will print a map of existing and planned trails. To gather public comments, a forum on the need for future trails will be held at the community center from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 11. Attendees will be provided lunch, and in the afternoon hiking groups will be organized to explore trails and trail opportunities. The proposed trail plan will be included as part of negotiations currently underway by Pacific Gas and Electric and the Nevada Irrigation District in the two agencies’ relicensing application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for power generation facilities along the Bear River. According to Otis Wollan, of Colfax, re-licensing requirements include recreation in the form of trails and recreational access to the river. Public input will help determine what trails are improved and developed from the Bear River area at its headwaters in Bear Valley, located northeast of Emigrant Gap in the Sierra, to Rollins Lake Reservoir near Colfax, and ending at Combie Reservoir near Meadow Vista. “This is the last opportunity to have input into the FERC relicensing of PG&E,” Wollan said. “There will be a trails component to their licensing, which (will be in effect) over the next 30 to 50 years.” Wollan said the trails need to be included into the plan within the next 60 days. “They’ve been working on this plan for five years, and they’ve finally gotten around to the trails component. Whenever there’s a meeting happening with NID and PG&E, we need to have a very solid record of usage and also the desire,” he said. The plan needs to take into consideration future usage by a growing population, Wollan said. “What do we need? What should we have during the course of this (30- to 50-year) license?” David Wright, an area architect who was a founder of the Nevada County Land Trust, now known as the Bear Yuba Land Trust, conceived the idea for the Bear River Trail Parkway. According to Wright, when PG&E filed for bankruptcy a decade ago, the courts instructed the utility company to divest itself of watershed lands they did not need. To help it direct where the land should be donated, the Stewardship Council was created to preserve open space. Wright had access to maps from the Stewardship Council showing how much land was being divested by PG&E. “The fact that most of the other land along the Bear River, particularly the Placer County side, is either BLM, Tahoe National Forest or PG&E, I thought ‘Wow this could make a wonderful park,’” Wright said. Wright also realized that the 20 miles from Highway 20 to the Rollins Lake Reserve had very little public access because it was wild. “Then I saw a video of a helicopter flight over the river that PG&E had made – from that came the idea that I proposed to the Land Trust, that this would make a wonderful parkway,” Wright said. Lorilei Hammer, of Colfax, is a local hiker who sees the need for the Bear River Parkway. “I would like it to go in because currently to go hiking you either have to head down the American River corridor or the South Yuba corridor,” Hammer said. “And we have the beautiful Bear River right here and it would be able to access and hike in that canyon.” Sierra Vista will hold a second forum, which will also include lunch and a hike, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 25, at the center, located at 55 School St. The Feb. 11 forum kicks off the winter/spring Sierra Vista Saturday Classes Series, which drew hundreds of local citizens to classes, lectures and programs last fall. The series continues Feb. 25, March 3, 17 and 31, and April 14 and 21. Classes will include organic gardening, retirement investing, stress reduction, primitive ceramics, drawing, and wills, trusts, and advanced directives. For more information, call 346-8726.