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Overland Emigrant Trail workshops to be held

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

After the Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted to reaffirm public interest in the various disconnected easements that traverse through three South County neighborhoods, more work needed to be done to bring the prospect of a trail into actuality.

The first step will begin next Tuesday, Oct. 29, as the initial meeting of the Overland Emigrant Trail Workshop will be held at the Higgins Lions Community Center, according to a news release issued by Nevada County Assistant Planner Larkyn Feiler.

The working group will potentially consist of property owners, trail planners and developers and prospective trail users.

The goal of the meeting is to “build consensus and work collaboratively to assist planning staff in implementing the board’s direction,” the release states.

The August decision of the board to reaffirm interest in a 6-mile segment of the historic Overland Emigrant Trail punctuated years of controversy.

The stretch of trail runs through Sunshine Valley, Lodestar and Golden Oaks — all subdivisions that were built in the 1970s.

Opponents to a trail being built through the subdivisions claim the easements that protect public trail rights are disjointed and would not be able to form a consistent network.

Proponents said the public has a right to access the easements and a trail should be opened immediately.

The working group will be tasked with determining whether to restrict trail access to pedestrians, thereby forbidding equestrian uses.

Sunshine Valley’s easement allows pedestrian use only, while Lodestar’s has a broader recreational use and Golden Oaks’ allows for horseback riding.

The only access point is off Dog Bar Road, which abuts Sunshine Valley, meaning equestrians would theoretically have to walk their horses through the first segment of the trail, while being able to ride on the other segments.

Other concerns include a proper trailhead with adequate parking, trail connectivity and how to handle structures that have been illegally built by property owners in vicinity to the trail.

Nevada County, unlike most of the 58 counties in California, does not maintain a parks and recreation department, meaning a third party — such as the Bear Yuba Land Trust — would have to step in and fund the studies, design and construction of the trail, along with crafting an agreement for its maintenance.

Those issues will be tackled starting next Tuesday.

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