Residents riled over NID fencing at Scotts Flat spillway
Several county residents say fencing installed by Nevada Irrigation District at Scotts Flat Lake is blocking their only easy access to the other side of the reservoir and nearby trails.
NID installed the fencing at the Scotts Flat spillway this month, closing public access to a popular pathway.
The fence was installed due to “increased public safety concerns in and around the spillway,” NID said in an Aug. 16 news release. Illegal campsites, campfire remains, excessive trash, and vandalism to timber operator equipment, were cited as some of the reasons for closing the spillway access.
“NID has had open access across Scotts Flat spillway for years, and regrets that the actions of the few violators impede the enjoyment of many,” the release states.
Multiple county residents said they were outraged by the closure during a public comment period of Wednesday’s NID board meeting.
“Our quality of life in Nevada County is directly related to our ability to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate our public lands,” said Shaun Clarke, land access manager for Bear Yuba Land Trust. “We strongly encourage NID to reconsider this drastic measure.”
Jeanette Lowe, a Nevada County resident, said blocking public access across the spillway, which also serves as a pathway to connect trails on either side of the reservoir, is “really detrimental to the health of our community.”
Diana Suarez, a Colfax resident, said she was concerned that the district might take a similar approach — denying public access to recreational areas — along the Bear River if it were to build the proposed Centennial Reservoir, which the district said would provide recreational opportunities as a public benefit.
NID announced in a Thursday afternoon news release that, in response to public request, it will temporarily open the gate for access to the Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life Triathlon and will remain open throughout the day Sunday.
“NID owns and operates the Scotts Flat Dam, including the powerhouse, and is subject to dam safety enforcement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Department of the Safety of Dams,” Thursday’s release states. “NID is subject to regulations applicable to protecting the public so that it shall not constitute a danger to life or property.”
The release states the district will hold a special meeting of the Water and Hydroelectric Operations Committee at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 at NID’s Main Business Center for additional input from the community regarding the Scotts Flat gate and fencing.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4231.
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