Final EIR for Martis Valley Trail certified amid worries
The Union news service
TRUCKEE — Trail alignment, user conflicts and safety remain areas of concern from some residents and property owners regarding the proposed Martis Valley Trail that proponents say will offer environmental benefits and additional recreational opportunities to both locals and visitors.
The Northstar Community Service District board of directors, the lead agency for the project, approved the trail’s Final Environmental Impact Report at a public meeting Oct. 17 at Truckee Town Hall.
No “significant” changes were made to the Draft EIR in creating the Final EIR, with revisions mainly consisting of adding or eliminating information for clarification or background purposes, correcting typos and updating dates, said Katherine Waugh, senior project manager for Dudek — formerly known as North Fork — the company that created the EIR, at the meeting.
Many of the document’s “master responses” to common concerns on the trail’s environmental impact were either “less than significant” or they could be “adequately mitigated to less than significant levels.”
The meeting was well-attended, and many residents and property owners voiced both praise and concern for the project, including Truckee resident Ann Penfield.
“It seems like a lot of the comments in the EIR, they’re just saying, ‘Well, yeah, this exists, but we don’t feel it’s significant,’” she said. “Who sets the bar on where the significance comes into play? … That’s just an issue that I have with how the EIR is done.”
Cathy Spence-Wells, principal of Dudek, responded: “The whole part of this CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) process is to evaluate significant adverse effects on the physical environment, and significant can mean a whole lot of different things depending on the resource topic.
“For instance, there are very specific requirements under the law if it’s a cultural resource. The law tells us that (if) you’re going to impact it in a certain way, that’s a significant effect. But it’s not so simple for everything else.”
Additional project approvals by Placer County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies are needed before trail construction can begin, said Nancy Ives, president of the NCSD board, in a follow-up interview.
It “may be possible” to start construction as early as next summer, Ives said, depending on actions taken by the NCSD Board, funding, easements and other permit approvals.
The 386-page final EIR was released on Oct. 9 and can be viewed at http://www.northstarcsd.org.
Margaret Moran is a reporter with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union.
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