Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Big Valley Bluff

Big Valley Bluff is one of the premier scenic overlooks in Placer County, a 3600-foot cliff on the north rim of the North Fork American canyon, east of Emigrant Gap. I wrote the following letter to Forest Supervisor Steve Eubanks of Tahoe National Forest, advocating a road and vehicles closure near the Bluff:

October 28, 2003

Steven Eubanks
Forest Supervisor, Tahoe National Forest
631 Coyote Street
Nevada City, CA 95959

re: Big Valley Bluff

Dear Supervisor Eubanks,

Recently I visited Big Valley Bluff, in the Nevada City Ranger District, a cliff on the north rim of the canyon of the North Fork American River. This is a very remarkable and beautiful place. The views of the North Fork canyon often make me wonder why there is no North Fork American National Park.

The elevation of the storm-swept summit is around 6400 feet. Sparse Jeffrey Pine, Western White Pine and Sugar Pine grow in the summit area, along with the odd stunted Douglas Fir and the somewhat unusual Common Juniper. This juniper is a ground-hugging shrub, and although I have found it on several rocky, sunny cliffs in the North Fork canyon, it is sufficiently uncommon that two friends, connoisseurs of our native plants, had never, over the course of decades, seen it.

I have noticed, in recent years, a great increase in 4WD and OHV activity around Big Valley Bluff. People drive up onto the summit area and have created a number of ad hoc roads. They build large fire rings and scatter beer bottles and other trash. The great beauty of this place, and the rare wildness of the North Fork canyon, suggest that Big Valley Bluff deserves special care.

Hence once again I suggest that a road and vehicle closure be applied to Big Valley Bluff. I believe all vehicular traffic-cars, trucks, SUVs, and OHVs-should be stopped at least one-quarter mile north of the old TNF lookout site. And, since Big Valley Bluff is so highly visible, from such long distances, a parking area should be chosen such that existing tree cover will tend to hide parked vehicles, and reduce or eliminate the sparkle of chrome and windshields.

A certain saddle or pass on the Big Valley Bluff ridge, near the center of the southwest one-quarter of Section 24, T16N R12E, and near the word "Valley" of "Big Valley Bluff" on the USGS 7.5 mnute Duncan Peak quadrangle, might be the best place to effect a vehicle closure, and make a parking area.

Sincerely yours,

Russell Towle

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