Thursday, May 12, 2005

Trails and Things

Terry Davis of the Sierra Club informs me that Placer County is *not* giving up on the Confluence-Ponderosa trail, but rather, plans to perform an EIR/EIS on the project, and then carry it forward.


It may be that another lawsuit will be required to stop this ill-conceived trail.

Today I met with Acting District Ranger Jan Cutts and Recreation Officer Ed Moore of the American River (Foresthill) Ranger District, and we talked about trails issues, and OHV issues, in Tahoe National Forest (TNF).

We spent some time out by Iron Point at the Euchre Bar Trail (EBT) trailhead. In the short time we were there, one party of hikers arrived and headed down the trail, and another came up from the river--evidence that this is indeed a popular trail.

Ron Gould had instructed me to ask, why is there no OHV-closure sign at the top of the EBT? I was surprised to learn that no formal closure exists on this north side of the canyon. Such a closure arises from a Forest Order, and a Forest Order was issued for trails leading to the North Fork from the Foresthill side of the canyon some years ago. This Order was made because a large area with a large complex of trails was set aside for OHV use on the Foresthill Divide, and with so many OHVs attracted to the area, and the North Fork being a Wild & Scenic River, it was felt necessary to effect a closure on that side of the canyon.

Hence the OHV closure signs one sees on the EBT at Elliott Ranch Road, and on the Italian Bar, Mumford Bar, Beacroft, and Sailor Flat trails. I believe there are also such signs on the Green Valley Trail, and the washed-out trail from near Wabena Point to Palisade Creek.

So far as the EBT at Iron Point, a new Forest Order would be required to effect an OHV closure there. Since there is a Forest-wide TNF OHV study happening right now, due for completion and resulting decisions in 2007 or 2008, we might look towards a Forest Order closing the EBT to OHVs at Iron Point then.

I was favorably impressed with Acting District Ranger Jan Cutts, who has a background in archeology among other things down in the Inyo National Forest.

We also visited the interesting Casa Loma prehistoric occupation site, which manages to combine unusual significance from an archeological standpoint (since it shows some signs of great age, possibly Martis Culture, pre-bow-and-arrow-age), with an almost incredible destruction and disruption of the site. Both the Martis people and the more modern Nisenan Maidu favored sunny spots with great views. If therefore one can combine a year-around spring with a meadow with southwestern exposure, well, in this part of the Sierra you have an Indian village site, or at the least, some kind of seasonal camp.

Often these old village sites were claimed as homesteads by white settlers, who, in order to "prove" their claim, planted orchards. In Grass Valley, if one sees an ancient, decrepit pear orchard in a sunny meadow, one sees an Indian site. It is much the same here in Placer County.

Back in the early 1970s I made a half-systematic exploration of Maidu village sites in the Grass Valley area. A few sites had remarkable views, sometimes extending across the Sacramento Valley to Mt. St. Helena, in the Coast Range. At other places the village views included the Sutter Buttes, those magical mountains which figured in Maidu myths, the cave-ridden place where the souls of the deceased stopped, on their paths to the Afterworld.

Ed Moore suggested that those of us interested in the Euchre Bar Trail might get involved in TNF's Adopt A Trail program, and perform some of the minor maintenance which is needed, such as constructing water bars, and trimming vegetation back. I myself like working on trails.

When I learn more about this I will let you know.

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