Nisenan Elders Tour at Rice’s Crossing |

Nisenan Elders Tour at Rice’s Crossing

Laura Petersen
Special to The Union

Shelly Covert's family has close ties to the Yuba River.

Covert is the secretary of the Nisenan-Nevada City Rancheria and members of her family helped build the Colegate Powerhouse and Bullard's Bar Dam.

Her grandparents homesteaded 160 acres across from French Bar, property where ancient burning and burial grounds remain today.

During the Gold Rush, local Nisenan known as "Flume Men" helped build and maintain the flumes that carried water to area gold diggings and mines. Later, some of her family tell stories of how they found refuge at the river after running away from the strict Indian Boarding School.

Shelly Covert will be joined by elders of the Nevada City Rancheria for a special history and cultural tour at Bear Yuba Land Trust's Rice's Crossing Preserve at French Bar on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

'Where stories are still alive'

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"Rice's Crossing is where our family had a stage stop and ranch. It's the place where stories that are still alive within the Tribe became part of our memory," said Covert.

"We want visitors to know that we have always had a relationship with this land and that we would like to share the story of that relationship with our local community. We can provide a voice that is missing from the story and is even missing from the history of this place. The Nisenan remain here in our ancient homelands. We are not extinct and we are excited to talk about our cultural history."

Participants of Saturday's trek will learn about grant funding that is enabling the Bear Yuba Land Trust and Nisenan to collaborate on interpretive signs that will tell these stories of the now protected riverfront property's past, present and future.

Located along a six-mile span on both sides of the Yuba River in the counties of Yuba and Nevada, the trust's newest and largest property, Rice's Crossing Preserve comprises 2,707 acres, extending from New Bullard's Bar Reservoir to the north and South Yuba River State Park at Bridgeport and Englebright Reservoir bordering the southern end.

With the protection of Rice's Crossing Preserve comes the promise of exciting recreation opportunities. The trust's Trails Team is working with local volunteers to build miles of new hiking, biking and equestrian trails at the northern and southern ends of this property providing long distance views, river access and picnicking locations.

Rice's Crossing Preserve protects important wildlife corridors and provides opportunities for river restoration that will benefit a variety of riparian species as well as native fish populations. Because of the abundant wildlife including bear, river otters, mountain lion, bobcat, deer, many bird species, etc., dogs are not allowed at French Bar.

Opened to the public in April 2016, French Bar at Rice's Crossing has burst into bloom after a long rainy season. Participants are encouraged to bring a hand lens for a getting a close look at the flowers.

More on tap for Land Trust

Now in its 27th year, the Bear Yuba Land Trust is a community-supported, nonprofit that has conserved more than 12,000 acres in the Bear River and Yuba River watersheds, built more than 35 miles of local trails and gets hundreds of people of all ages into nature as part of year-round trekking and educational programming.

The trust launches its annual trail campaign on May 31 with an Ales for Trails fundraiser at Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Company on Commercial Street in Nevada City. A portion of proceeds from the evening food and beverage sales — 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. — supports local trails. For every pint of Hirschman Hefeweizen sold, $1 will be donated back to the trust for trails. The brew is special for Bear Yuba Land Trust trails campaign and will be on tap through the summer until it's gone.

On June 3, the community will come together for a Celebration of Trails with a morning of guided hikes and outings on local trails and an afternoon festival with music, food, beer, kids activities and booths with trail information, maps, gear and more.

Stay tuned for more treks this summer on Deer Creek Tribute Trail, a twilight bat walk at Black Swan Preserve, a hike to the "real" Zion Hill with Archeologist Hank Meals, a Wilderness Perfume Walk and Backpacking Basics and Campfire Cooking with Mountain Recreation as part of the Fireside Chats series at Inn Town Campground.

Tickets for Nisenan Elders at Rice's Crossing, French Bar: $20 for trust members, $25 non-members. Space is limited. — A portion of proceeds will go to support the Nevada City Rancheria.

Learn more:

Contact Bear Yuba Land Trust Community Engagement Manager Laura Petersen at or 272-5994 x 211.

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