Trail and watershed project on path to completion | TheUnion.com

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Trail and watershed project on path to completion

An eight-mile trail and watershed restoration project that will link public and private lands and provide locals access to Deer Creek is edging closer to passage – despite some resident concerns.

A trail association is forming for the project, funded by a $912,000 grant awarded by the California Resources Agency last year, said Joanne Hild, executive director of Friends of Deer Creek, the agency leading the project.

“People really don’t know about Deer Creek and its beauty,” Hild said. “It’s a beautiful, spectacular place.”

For the past year, the trail project has been undergoing environmental scrutiny as part of the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act processes. The review is almost complete and Nevada City Council members will vote whether to proceed with the trail on June 11, Hild said.

The trail will connect several existing trail remnants and allow access to a waterfall and little-known areas now choked with poison oak and blackberry bushes.

Last week, 30 people attended a Nevada City Planning Commission meeting to show support and share their reservations about the project.

“People have concerns, of course, about dogs and bicycles,” Hild said

At least one local fly fisherman is worried his favorite secret fishing hole for brown and rainbow trout could be lost.

Residents such as Candace Hansen, who lives within the scope of the proposed trail, said she favors public access to Deer Creek, but has concerns about traffic, parking, signs and the disruption of her neighborhood’s quiet, rural atmosphere.

“The original idea sounded good to me and still does,” Hansen said. “Now there’s talk of building bridges, cutting down trees and making a pretty wide trail. I definitely think it should have more study and greater community input.”

Friends of Deer Creek is working with American Rivers, the Nevada County Land Trust, the federal Bureau of Land Management, and county and city officials. A handful of property owners have granted easements to allow the trail to cross their properties, Hild said.

“We really want the community to build this,” Hild said.

On June 7, in recognition of National Trails Day, volunteers will begin working to clear brush for the trail during an opening ceremony. Building the trail is expected to take two years, Hild said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.