South Yuba plan flows smoothly |

South Yuba plan flows smoothly

Mix together private property rights and issues concerning the South Yuba River in Nevada County, and the result is usually combustible debate fueled by ideology.

So, considering that private land was the topic Tuesday night at the 12th meeting of the South Yuba River Comprehensive Management Plan, things were surprisingly genial between the approximately 20 people in the L.O.V.E. building at Condon Park.

While the final management plan – which still has about 18 months to go before completion – won’t implement any rules on private property abutting the river, private landowners in the river corridor are key stakeholders in the process.

The management plan is aimed at public lands owned by the state, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in the 39-mile stretch of river between Lake Spaulding and Point Defiance at Englebright Reservoir. But instead of having the agencies craft a plan, individuals from the community are doing it, said John Scull of the BLM.

But public access to areas on the river sometimes causes conflict with adjacent private land owners regarding trespassing, littering, fire threats and liability issues.

“We’re trying to identify in general terms how private property should be dealt with,” said Pat Davison. “I think the process has been useful. There are differences, but the goal is to find some common ground.”

Although the ground rules guiding the plan discourage advocacy groups from being involved in the process, government agencies urge members of different groups to attend as individuals. Like Davison – field director for the California Association of Business, Property, and Resource Owners – members of other groups such as the South Yuba River Citizens League are attending the meetings.

“We put those titles to the side and work on things we’re supposed to be doing,” Davison said.

Another crucial benchmark in the process was the consensus reached Jan. 6 on the plan’s final vision statement for the river, Scull said. The vision statement covers a broad range of issues, from ecosystem protection and recreation to respecting private property rights and balancing competing uses in the river corridor.

“It was an amazing thing,” Scull said. “We had some hard core environmentalists and landowners approve it. And we had a good mix of people.”

The next management plan meeting will be Feb. 3,and will again discuss private property issues. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

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