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Trail of trash

Pedestrians who choose to take a morning walk along Miner’s Trail in Nevada City are met with the soothing sound of Deer Creek rushing over granite boulders – as well as graffiti-decorated benches and mountains of rank garbage buzzing with flies.

It’s not the only place graffiti has shown up in Nevada City. Someone has scrawled vulgar drawings and words with black marker across a baby changing table in the new public restroom located in the Robinson Plaza on Union Street, erected with much fanfare at a “bathroom raising” in May.

“We watch that and take care of it. It spreads like disease,” said City Manager Gene Albaugh when he was notified by The Union of the graffiti on Miner’s Trail.



It was the first complaint the city received, he said. Director of Public Works Verne Taylor did not return phone calls.

Just who is responsible for maintaining the short community trail running beneath the highway overpass is a hazy line and appears to have been overlooked at the height of summer tourist season.




“It’s an ongoing issue,” said John van der Veen, a chemist who serves as the secretary and treasurer of the board for Friends of Deer Creek.

At least one trash can with “NC” stamped on the side sits on the trail.

The Nevada City Rotary Club built the trail 15 years ago, but it has been at least four years since the group maintained it, according to the club’s president, Bob Buhlis.

“When the Rotary put it in, it was nice for a while. Then it deteriorated,” van der Veen said.

Friends of Deer Creek regularly monitors the creek’s water quality and is working with the city to build a public trail that will stretch 8 miles along the river beginning from Pioneer Park.

“Hopefully when we get the whole trail system, (vandalism and littering) will diminish,” van der Veen said.

Each year the trail is one of several sites in the county targeted during the South Yuba River Citizens League’s annual September cleanup.

Used by the area’s homeless and “townie” population, the sheltered area under the highway overpass shows signs of use in a way it was not originally designed for.

“I think people go down there and get stoned and drink a beer,” said Owen Lindsay, who just moved into a home on the corner of Cabin and Pine streets, one of the access points to the trail.

Under the shelter of the highway, a row of flattened cardboard boxes atop the dirt serve as temporary beds.

A trash can and two plastic garbage bags overflow with smelly fast food cartons and empty cases of cheap beer.

Empty glass hard liquor bottles, cigarette butts and human waste litter the trail. The concrete pillars holding up the highway scream spray paint obscenities and graphic drawings.

At its Sept. 8 meeting the Nevada City Rotary Club will address the issue of maintaining the trail, said president Bob Buhlis, who said he doesn’t walk the trail.

Rotary club members have suggested scheduling a work day next April for the trail. Club members will go down and inspect the trail and when the time comes will work with public volunteers and the city, he said.

“That is our responsibility and we have been discussing a work day. I don’t think it can wait that long,” Buhlis said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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