NID talks trails at Scotts Flat reservoir | TheUnion.com

NID talks trails at Scotts Flat reservoir

NID installed a fence at the Scotts Flat spillway last summer due to safety concerns, a move that sparked controversy. The gate remains open for now, with NID working to build a new trail in the fall.

An unpopular decision last summer by Nevada Irrigation District to fence off the spillway at Scotts Flat reservoir is leading to the creation of a new recreational opportunity.

NID eventually reopened the spillway gate, but warned that public access from one side of the lake to the other will only be temporary due to safety concerns.

The district now is in the process of creating a new trail across Deer Creek below Scotts Flat, and has developed several alternatives that were presented to the public Tuesday. Many of those in attendance were members of local trail and bicycle groups, who expressed a desire to collaborate with NID on building the trail.

"There are certainly a lot of concerns and a lot of ideas floating around out there," NID Assistant General Manager Greg Jones said. "I wanted to continue the conversation."

Jones said NID staff had been whittling down suggestions made last fall, as to how hikers and bikers could get from the north side of the reservoir to the south side without going over the spillway and the dam structure itself. Since January, he said, staff members have been surveying the area, walking the potential trails and looking at which options were feasible.

"The idea was to go out there and truth-test it," he said.

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Three options are currently on the table, all of which start at the bottom of the dam road from Pasquale Road, at the start of the spillway. All of the options being considered encroach on one piece of private property, but the owner has been open to the idea of granting an easement, Jones said.

Each option is a little over a mile long and each has bridge options to span Deer Creek, he added.

"There's a whole lot of concern (from neighbors) about opening up this section that traditionally no one knows much about," Jones said. "It's a pretty interesting spot."

A new trail in the area could potentially bring hundreds of people a day, he said, adding, "That's what happens when you put a trail somewhere."

Jones cautioned that NID staff were not trail-building experts, and wanted input on which trail might cost the least, cause the least environmental harm and provide the best ease of access for potential users.

The audience in attendance made several suggestions, including extending the trail to Pasquale Road. A "field trip" is being planned for stakeholders in the near future to walk the proposed trail system.

The proposed timeline calls for making a decision on a trail option by the end of August, with design starting in September and the permit process getting under way in October.

"Back in December, the thought was the work would be done in the fall," Jones said. "If all the stars align, with acceptance by the board and design specs, with costing, CEQA and permitting, with all the groups working together, maybe in October of next year, we have a nice system out there … Let's put a milestone out there and push for it."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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