Nevada City addresses problems along Miners Trail | TheUnion.com

Nevada City addresses problems along Miners Trail

It's easy to find details about Nevada City's many publicly-accessible trails with a quick search on the internet.

But the Miners Trail, which opened in 1992 and follows Deer Creek beside the Highway 20/49 off-ramp that leads into downtown Nevada City, is conspicuously missing from most local trail guides.

The trail has become increasingly popular among people looking for a discreet place to drink alcohol, loiter, and camp illegally near downtown Nevada City. The evidence lies in plain sight: littered bottles, cans and trash is consistently found along the trail, according to a presentation at Wednesday's city council meeting.

"It's a complex issue," said Council Member Reinette Senum. "There's homeless, there's a variety of people. It's a party place, and it's where young people go to hang out and do things they'd get in trouble for otherwise."

A group of volunteers, including representatives from the Nevada City Rotary Club, that helps maintain the Miners Trail, told City Manager Mark Prestwich in early 2017 that the area was rife with problems, including fire risks, environmental hazards and public safety concerns, according to a staff report.

The California Department of Transportation, which also maintains portions of the trail, reported recurring expenses associated with fence repair, litter and associated impacts, the report states.

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In response, Prestwich, along with volunteer Jim Morris, initiated a "Miners Trail Task Force" to assess the issues and consider possible solutions. The task force included volunteers and representatives from the Nevada City Police Department, public works, city engineering, Caltrans, California Highway Patrol and the Nevada City Rotary Club.

Morris and Walt Stickel, past president of the Nevada City Rotary Club, joined Prestwich in presenting the task force's findings to city council Wednesday. They recommended a handful of both short-term and long-term solutions to help improve conditions along the trail.

In the short term, the task force recommended that the city install cameras and lighting, enhance frequency of day and evening police patrols, install signage to deter vandalism and loitering, and alter the slope of the trail to deter camping. They also recommended continuing cleanups, which occur every other day, lead by the city's public works department and volunteers.

In the long term, the task force recommended the city move forward with its plan to construct a path that would tie the Miners Trail in with the proposed Clark Street parking lot — part of the city's "ParkEasy" parking expansion strategy that also includes installation of the Maybert Bridge, donated to the city after it was removed from the town of Washington in 2014. But it could take upwards of three years before that project is complete, according to Prestwich.

"When you have more people actively using the trail, it helps to deter problems," Prestwich said.

"We need to do something," said Vice Mayor Duane Strawser. "I'm not sure what the answer is, but this looks like at least a good starting point — baby steps."

City council unanimously approved the task force's recommendations.

"Our trails are invaluable to Nevada City," said Council Member David Parker.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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