Trails are the key to rebuilding rural communities

Where I Stand  by Tim Rhode

  Let’s get our community on TRAC for some serious economic growth.

  Are you sick of seeing our community slowly die? Doesn’t it sadden you to see our good friends and neighbors lose their homes and jobs, forcing them to move out of Plumas and Sierra counties? Now we see Bank of America in Portola has folded up and we may possibly be losing our hospital. Is there anything that can be done to help stem the tide and turn things around so our friends and neighbors can have employment, pride and hope for their future?

  A group of concerned locals has come together and has an idea that could help turn around our hurting rural area. We are calling our group TRAC — Trails for Recreation and Community. We are hoping you can get behind us with your support. Our idea is centered on getting more outdoor recreational trails built around Plumas and Sierra counties.

  We are most fortunate to be the home of the Sierra Buttes Trails Stewardship, which is well-known to be an organization of world-class multipurpose trail builders. Their recently built Mills Peak Trail down to Graeagle is gaining a reputation nationwide as an extremely well-built and scenic trail. They have been working with the Beckwourth Ranger District on their ideas and are proposing a master plan that identifies key recreational opportunity areas in which to build a network of trails all around our communities.

  These trails could serve a number of users (bicyclists, hikers, horse riders) and be tied directly to the communities within the area. TRAC intends to help ensure the Sierra Buttes trails plan gets implemented slowly, over time, by working with the Beckwourth Ranger District and other agencies for environmental approvals.

  TRAC has studied the effects of building multipurpose trails in other communities similar to Plumas County like Oakridge, Ore.; Fruita, Colo.; and Moab, Utah. The best model was Oakridge. If you do nothing else, watch this video:

  Oakridge was where our area is now — our logging, mining and railroad jobs have mostly gone away, as had theirs. Imagine Portola with 14 new businesses over three years. That is what has happened in Oakridge over the last three years! They are experiencing a renaissance, and so can we, by building these trails. Check out the trails at

  This trails network will help change the reputation and culture of our community, and all of this only enhances the other outdoor amenities we (and our guests) enjoy, like golf, fishing and winter sports. It also makes our community more enticing for young people to live here, and this all ties in with the PSREC/chamber of commerce’s Rec and Tech efforts.

  So, here’s how you can help. Please check out our website at We have a number of ways there that you can be a part of turning around our community and making it something special we can all be proud of. It’s time for us to get on TRAC! For more information on TRAC and how you can help, contact Tim Rhode at Also, come see our presentation at the Portola City Council on Wednesday, July 10, at 7 p.m.

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