NID candidates differ on use of irrigation-ditch trails
If you like hiking alongside western Nevada County’s irrigation ditches, you’re on the same page as Sterling Honea, Ron Mathis and Nancy Weber.
Or, if you view ditch-side hikers as trespassers who ought to find a public trail on which to walk, you’ll probably prefer Al Scheinert or John Drew.
That was one of the clear differences that emerged Tuesday night at a KVMR-FM election forum in Grass Valley for five candidates seeking two seats on the Nevada Irrigation District board of directors.
Chicago Park area voters will choose between Drew and Mathis, who seek the Division II seat vacated by retiring, longtime NID director Ernie Bierwagen.
Drew said even if there is a public right-of-way along the ditches, it was created by “chronic trespassing.”
“It came about as the result of trespass,” said Drew. He thinks NID should have to pay property owners to buy a right-of-way along the ditches.
Mathis said, “I am in favor of the ditches. They are a very favorable aspect of Nevada County.
“NID does not have a right one way or another to close the trail or open the trail. They need to stay out of the business of who has access and who does not,” he said.
Incumbent Weber faces challengers Honea and Scheinert for Division I, the Nevada City area.
NID has proposed draining water from the Lower Cascade Canal on Banner Mountain and putting all of the ditch’s flow through a 4-foot-diameter pipeline.
“If you want water (left in the Lower Cascade), you’re going to have to pay for it,” said Scheinert.
“It’s a wonderful idea that people can use these … (ditch-side) maintenance roads as trails. That’s nice, but there are trails all over this county.”
Honea said, “These trails that people use should be preserved at all costs.” He also cited the successful lawsuit by the group Friends of the Trails, which created public access trails along a section of Rattlesnake ditch near Brunswick Road.
Weber also favored keeping the ditches open for hiking, saying NID doesn’t provide treated water for Banner Mountain residents who pay NID taxes, and the Lower Cascade trail helps make up for that.
“I think NID needs to change its mission statement to include recreation,” she said.
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