Offroading roadblock at Greenhorn Creek |

Offroading roadblock at Greenhorn Creek

Reasons to close or leave open the Greenhorn Creek recreational area to off-highway vehicles are apparent as soon as you enter the rugged canyon.

Walls rise sharply on either side of the creek, which is littered with crossings and any number of places to pull off and snap some picturesque views of the Sierra Nevada.

Unfortunately you don’t have to look hard to see what else litters the area, which lies off Banner Mountain southeast of Nevada City. Discarded beer bottles, husks of abandoned vehicles and spent shotgun shells all are part of the reason the U.S. Forest Service wants the area closed.

The Forest Service and offroad enthusiasts are debating a plan that could go into effect this summer, effectively shutting down the area to OHVs.

The proposal to close the area has been on the table since 2008, said Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman Ann Westling. A study looking at motorized travel recommended the area be shut down to cross-country travel due to a variety of safety and upkeep issues in the area.

“There are so many different issues in that area,” Westling said. “There are concerns with people starting fires, shooting and dumping vehicles.”

The plan will punish off-roaders who are responsible stewards of the environment, said Jacquelyne Theisen, founder of the Friends of Greenhorn, a group of OHV enthusiasts who intend to keep the area open.

“There have been trails running through that property since at least 1947,” Theisen said. “If it closes, then we’re left with only two other trails in the area to wheel around in (Fordyce in Cisco Grove and Gold Valley near the Plumas County line). Greenhorn is the only one we can play in year-round.”

How to effectively close the area off to OHV owners is also a question, Theisen said, as fences cannot be erected along the creek bed. Westling said exactly how the Forest Service would shut the area off hasn’t been determined.

Traffic through Greenhorn would still be permitted on county and Forest Service roads, Westling said, but off-road travel wouldn’t be allowed.

The Forest Service would be willing to come to the table with the Friends of Greenhorn after the area is closed if the group could assemble the private property owners and representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, which owns property in the area, Westling said. At that point, the parties could discuss the issues and find a solution to possibly re-open the property.

Rick Esterley, a Buckeye Road resident with recreational property bordering the area, said he opposes its closure.

“It’s a beautiful area and well-suited for the type of use that’s been there for over many decades,” Esterley said. “We understand there’s sometimes irresponsible people in the area, but we try to police our own and stop that sort of activity.”

A public comment period on the decision is open until April 12. If the Forest Service decides to accept the report on the area and shut it to off-roaders, that decision will come sometime this summer.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

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