Land purchase to connect Yuba River trails |

Land purchase to connect Yuba River trails

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

Photo for The Union by John Hart

New swimming holes, fishing areas, winding hiking trails, rugged mountain biking paths and scenic vistas will be rendered available to the public as the Bear Yuba Land Trust revealed plans to acquire a pivotal piece of property that will connect the Middle Yuba River to the South Yuba River.

In a ceremony in Sacramento today, California Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird will announce the awarding of a $1.9 million grant to the Bear Yuba Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land.

The sum will be used to purchase a 2,706-acre parcel called Rice's Crossing, said Marty Coleman-Hunt, executive director of Bear Yuba Land Trust.

The Rice's Crossing property spans both sides of the Middle Yuba River and is bounded by New Bullard's Bar Reservoir to the north and South Yuba River State Park to the south.

Upon completion of the land acquisition, the land trust will focus on constructing 15-20 miles of multi-use trails that will provide connection points to existing trail networks within South Yuba River State Park, Tahoe National Forest, the Bullard's Bar Trail System and Plumas National Forest.

Public access to the trail system is estimated to be made available two to three years after the completed land acquisition.

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"Hikers and river visitors to the South Yuba River State Park are now forced to stop at the Rice's Crossing property line because of a locked fence," Coleman-Hunt said. "Opening this stretch of the Yuba River to the public will provide connectivity to and, thereby, enhance the use of adjacent state and federal managed lands."

The land trust and its partners have been working to secure the property for the public for more than a decade, Coleman-Hunt said.

The land trust initially secured a $1 million grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in 2007, then followed up by obtaining a $350,000 grant from Caltrans via the Trust for Public Land in 2009.

After the grant is procured from the California Water Resources Agency today, more than $3.25 million will be committed toward purchase of the Rice's Crossing, Coleman-Hunt said.

"This property knits together more than 8,500 acres of protected open space and contains six miles of the Yuba River," said Markley Bavinger, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. "The Trust for Public Land has been working with members of this community to protect this magnificent property for many years; this funding from the River Parkways Grant Program is really a dream come true for many river, wildlife and recreation enthusiasts."

Funding for the Deer Creek Tribute Trail will also be announced at the ceremony. That trail's expansion includes the construction of a bridge built on land owned by Nevada City just downstream from town.

The Sierra Fund, a nonprofit based in Nevada City, procured $1.3 million for expansion of the trail.

"The Sierra Fund will continue to work with the many partners that have helped build the Tribute Trail to develop these new project elements," said Izzy Martin, CEO of the Sierra Fund.

The natural resources agency will announce more than $34 million in funding for 33 proposed river parkway projects statewide at Wednesday's ceremony, Coleman-Hunt said. In total, the grants will fund more than 31 miles of trails and more than 7,500 acres of wildlife habitat restoration and land acquisition.

"Our river parkway grants help communities connect children with nature, promote public health by providing families with greater outdoor recreational opportunities and protect the rivers that provide us with clean water," said Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call (530) 477-4239.

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