Cascade Canal Trail to open after Nevada County court agreement
Attorneys on both sides of the Cascade Canal Trail lawsuit stood before the Nevada County judge, prepared for trial over public use of the Nevada City path.
Then, on Wednesday, they said a little more time was needed in hopes they could reach an agreement.
A day later the attorneys returned before Superior Court Judge Robert Tice-Raskin with an agreement that ended an 18-month legal action and will reopen the trail to the public.
“We’re delighted with the outcome,” said Susan Sanders, a board member of Friends of Banner Mountain, which filed the suit against Jonathan and Jacy Davis. “This is what we’d hoped for — public access to a trail that has been used by the public for over 50 years, for generations.”
Users of the trail discovered around May 2017 that a gate was blocking access to the Cascade Canal Trail at Gracie Road, near Banner Lava Cap Road. A letter informed hikers that “disrespectful trail users” led the Davis’ to block the trail.
Friends of Banner Mountain filed suit in September 2017.
The agreement calls for the installation by Tuesday of a 13-by-19 inch sign on a modified version of the Gracie Road gate, which will remain unlocked. The sign will state: “Cascade Canal Trail. Open to the public. Please stay on the trail and respect landowners’ privacy. The landowner requests that the first 800 feet of the trail be used only during daylight hours.”
The trail is on a public easement that runs through private property. The first 800 feet runs through the Davis’ land.
The agreement calls for the removal of a second gate in the northeast part of the property.
“I think it was a good resolution,” said attorney Craig Diamond, who represents the Davises. “The interests of both parties were addressed and I think reasonably compromised.”
According to Diamond, a conversation was needed about the trail’s use and the privacy concerns of his clients. That conversation is reflected in the agreement reached Thursday.
Diamond emphasized that the easement allowing access to the trail existed before his clients were born.
John Bilheimer, an attorney for Friends of Banner Mountain, said a state law enacted in 1972 stopped the use of public easements across private land for recreational purposes. However, the Cascade Canal Trail has been used since before that law’s creation, and that recreational easement remains intact.
“We’re really pleased with the result,” Bilheimer said. “We think it’s important public trails are kept accessible to Nevada County.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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