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Yuba Goldfields ready for recreation

The Union Staff
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The Yuba Goldfields are finally open for recreation, and now visitors can find out where they are allowed to go.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday that a federal map is available that shows public recreation areas inside the roughly 10,000-acre Goldfields, a strange landscape of gravel and rock left behind by hydraulic gold mining along the Yuba River, halfway between Grass Valley and Marysville.

“The map shows it’s about half private and half public,” said BLM area manager Deane Swickard.



The BLM has about 1,100 acres inside the Goldfields, Swickard said. Another 2,500 to 3,000 acres is Army Corps of Engineers’ land.

Currently, the Army Corps’ land isn’t open for recreation.




Most of that land is leased for gravel and mining operations, and “the people who own the leases run people off. But we don’t have any (law enforcement personnel) out there,” said Jim Taylor, spokesman for the Army Corps’ Sacramento District.

“We’re really not in a position to say it’s open to public use. We just don’t have the resources to manage it,” Taylor said.

But that could change.

“The good news for the public is … we’re in the process of trying to transfer the land to the BLM,” he said. “With any luck, in the next year or so, we can transfer it.”

BLM has grand plans for the Goldfields, which are dotted with dozens of ponds left behind by gold dredging. The ponds hold trout and bass and attract waterfowl and other birds.

“What I see in my mind’s eye … is a large recreational landscape where people can come out and get in a canoe and paddle through a series of aquatic trails,” Swickard said.

Ultimately, he envisions a “topography of islands and peninsulas” linked together by hiking and boating “trails.” He’d also like to see the area re-vegetated with cottonwoods and other native plants. The 5,000 acres of public land allow hiking, boating, hunting and fishing, he said.

“Access is going to be improved over time; this is just a start,” he said.

Gravel mining could be used as a tool to restore and re-contour the landscape and link the ponds together, he said. BLM plans to soon start selling piles of gravel left behind by mining activity, Swickard said.

— Hammonton Road starts just below the Parks Bar Bridge, which crosses Highway 20 at the Yuba River. For a copy of the map that shows the Goldfields’ public access area, or for more information, contact BLM’s Folsom field office at 63 Natoma Street, Folsom 95630; or call (916) 985-4474. The map also is on the agency’s Web site at


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