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Parking ticket hike on the way: Increased fee part of larger recreation plan

Nevada County has puzzle pieces spread across the board when it comes to recreation.

The piece people might notice most will be parking fines when they leap from $38 to $162 in mid-August.

That’s just one part of a multi-pronged approach that’s linked to a $450,000 Outdoor Visitor Safety Fund Grant program. Money is allocated to programs including the South Yuba River Citizens League’s river ambassador initiative and Bear Yuba Land Trust’s trail keeper program, among others.

Funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Recreation, the last couple of years, especially with COVID, we have had significant impacts at all of our major river crossings and trail heads,” said Trisha Tillotson, director of the Community Development Agency.

That’s led to the need for more recreation infrastructure.

For example, the $16,705 for the river ambassador program will enable SYRCL to have ambassadors at more crossings over more days. Ambassadors talk to visitors about bringing glass to the river, fires and parking in illegal areas.

“We have found that to be very helpful,” Tillotson said.

Another aspect of the larger plan — supervisors on Tuesday held a first reading for a parking fine hike from $38 to $162 on Dog Bar, Pleasant Valley and Soda Springs roads, as well as additional parking prohibitions on Boreal Ridge, Donner Lake, Maybert, Relief Hill and Washington roads, along with Coyote Street. Language in the county code was amended to clearly specify prohibited parking areas, and more signs will be added.

All areas, except Coyote Street, are near trailheads and river crossings, Tillotson said.

“It’s all about safety and emergency access,” said Supervisor and Chairwoman Sue Hoek in a statement. “Minutes count when a swimming accident or a fire happens in the river canyon. We first saw this at our river crossings, but we’ve begun to see the same issues around emergency access across the county as recreational tourism has increased. At the river, we’ve increased our no parking signage and collaborated to increase patrols with our partners, but illegal parking has continued to be an issue that we need to do something about.”

The supervisors are expected to vote on the fee change July 12. It will become effective 30 days later.

In addition to the grant money and parking changes, officials are planning a recreation and resiliency master plan. The county has no parks and doesn’t administer park programs, and has never had a master plan. This plan will identify the county’s river crossings and trailheads.

Proposals for the plan are due July 14, and the county hopes to award a contract by Sept. 13. It’s expected to take a year to complete.

The process will include many public meetings and focus groups.

“This master plan will really help the county’s role in recreation,” Tillotson said.

Alan Riquelmy is the managing editor of The Union. He can be reached at ariquelmy@theunion.com

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