Dianna Suarez: Public access to Bear River threatened
Have you ever been to Combie Reservoir? I haven’t, because Combie Reservoir is not accessible to the public.
It was once a river where the indigenous people lived, prayed and buried their dead. It was once a river where the public could access the water. Now it is a private reservoir created by the Nevada Irrigation District with public money.
Only those people who belong to a private homeowners association, can enjoy the reservoir, but the rest of us are cut off. Upstream at Rollins Reservoir, private concessionaires charge admission and fees to use the reservoir.
Between Rollins and Combie reservoirs there are only six miles left of the Bear River. We the people have free access to this beautiful river and flowing water from public campgrounds, beaches, fishing areas, Dog Bar Bridge crossing, trails and private homes. Some people kayak, tube or raft from the public access on Milk Ranch Road down river to the Dog Bar Bridge. Many people pan and sluice for gold, hike, fish and swim along this river. The Bear River Campgrounds offer free access on land owned in the public trust by the state of California, and managed by Placer County Parks for the public interest.
This access to public lands and water is a right that we the people hold.
This right to access these public lands and the Bear River is threatened by Nevada Irrigation District, based in Nevada County. We have no representation on their elected board and no ability to influence their agenda. Our rights will be taken away from the many for the few if Nevada Irrigation District is successful in their third attempt to build yet another dam on our Bear River.
Centennial Reservoir, called the Parker Dam proposal since 1926, would flood lands between Combie Reservoir and Rollins Reservoir. There would be no river left! The last of the local indigenous people’s sacred sites, burials and cultural sites would be wiped out. There would be no more rafting, tubing, fishing, gold panning or public access to our lands and water. The Bear River Campgrounds and Dog Bar crossing, the last public access in our area to the Bear River will be gone.
Will we stand aside and allow this further taking of our access to public lands and clean water? If we the people stand together, we can change this terrible plan.
What can you do? Go to http://www.savebearriver.com/ and sign our petition, like us on Facebook at Save Bear River or No Centennial Dam.
There will be another Bear River Celebration at the Group Campground on Plum Tree Road near the town of Colfax on the Bear River on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9. For more information, visit http://www.savebearriver.com.
If we stand together, we can make a better plan for everyone.
Dianna Suarez lives in Colfax.
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