Dirt bike activity stirs a ruckus in Cascade Shores
January 6, 2009
Fed up with what they say is the noise, drugs and dirt bike riding in their neighborhood in recent months, a handful of Cascade Shores residents will hold a meeting Wednesday to address the problem.
Those organizing the gathering say the closure of federal and private land in the nearby Greenhorn Creek watershed last year has driven rowdies into their neck of the woods. Law enforcement officials said Monday they are listening to the neighbors’ concerns, although they have not seen an increase in reports of vandalism or drug abuse, and suspect the riders may be locals.
At the time the Greenhorn Creek area was closed, members of respectable motorcycle groups warned the closure of public lands would encourage illegal riding in other areas. Members also have said a few reckless individuals do not represent the majority of off-road riders.
Nonetheless, Cascade Shores residents say they are fed up.
“They’re riding bikes at excessive speeds, sometimes on one wheel. They’re coming in here in droves since Greenhorn closed,” said Skip Hatton, a 25-year resident of the
Banner Mountain subdivision east of Nevada City.
At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, representatives from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and District 1 Supervisor Nate Beason will face the issue during a meeting of the Cascade Shores Homeowners Association.
The meeting will be held at the community’s firehouse on Pasquale Road next to the Cascade Shores General Store.
Law enforcement officials and Beason will listen to concerns and help educate the public on what is legally permitted to ride on county roadways.
“Education is our first priority. We want to educate the community and find a happy medium for everyone,” said sheriff’s Cpl. Mark Hollitz.
Cascade Shores is perched at the edge of a hydraulic mining area locals have used as an outdoor recreation area for decades.
For the inexperienced trail rider, every turn presents a confusing array of old mining roads that cross private, public and county property lines.
“Every time you drive a hundred feet, you have to pull out a map and figure out where you are,” Hollitz said.
Hatton lives near what locals call “the diggins” near Lost Mine Lake on Gas Canyon Road.
“That is an incredibly big chunk of land out there,” Hollitz said.
Several complaints have come through the sheriff’s office, but he disagreed with characterizing the activity as “anarchy” and said the office has not seen a spike in reports of drug activity, trespassing or vandalism in the region.
“There is an issue with some people riding motorcycles on county-maintained roads,” Hollitz said.
Hatton alleges that a group of seven to 20 people ranging in ages from 18 to their late 20s regularly ride motorcycles and “rock crawlers” on a 61⁄2 acre private site where they have been given permission to ride.
Hatton also alleges the riders cross the property lines, smoke marijuana and hunt illegally.
“It seems lawless right now,” Hatton said. “We’d really like to have our neighborhood back.”
Last year, federal, county and private agencies and groups stepped up patrols and closed some areas of the Greenhorn Creek river bed and “The Narrows,” a popular party place where it was not uncommon to find 100 people gathered, even during a snowy weekend.
The closures were done to stop illegal dumping, trespassing on private properties, erosion and damage to archaeological sites.
Hansen Bros. owns a rock quarry and processing plant in one of the popular areas off You Bet Road. Tired of vandalism and general nuisance issues, the gravel company with the help of the sheriff’s office posted no trespassing signs this summer, Hollitz said.
Rangers from the Tahoe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management were also out in force issuing citations for no helmets and improper registration of motorcycles and four- wheel drive vehicles, Hollitz said.
“It’s kind of been a community effort to restore the Greenhorn Area” to a place of natural beauty, business and recreation, said Hollitz.
Since then, calls for service to the Greenhorn Creek area have dropped off by as much as 90 percent, Hollitz estimated.
“Greenhorn has come a long way,” he said.
In addition, off-road riding clubs have been heavily involved in the rerouting of legal OHV trails in the Tahoe National Forest.
While some riders have drifted to places like Chalk Bluff, Dutch Flat, Bear Valley and Steep Hollow, they have not seen the 100-person parties of the past.
It remains a mystery where the majority of former Greenhorn devotees have gone.
“I’m not sure where (the Greenhorn Creek crowds) went. It seems they’re not raising havoc in this county,” Hollitz said.
He suspected the Gas Canyon riders may be area residents, and not from among the outsiders who formerly flocked to Greenhorn Creek.
To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4231.