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Local trails topic of public meeting

Delaine Fragnoli
Managing Editor

What kinds of recreational trails would you like to see available in the American Valley? That’s the question the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is asking as it unveils a bold plan for motorized and non-motorized recreation.

The group, along with partner Plumas National Forest, hosts a meeting Monday, March 12, at 7:15 p.m. in the Quincy library.

The proposal has two parts. The first is a roughly 20-mile system of trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers in an area known locally as South Park. It’s bounded on the north by Spanish Creek and the Cascade Trail, on the west by Highway 70, on the south by Chandler Road and on the east by Oakland Camp Road. Most of the trails are on a south-facing slope — thus the name. The southern exposure means the trails are accessible most of the year.

A system of user-created trails already exists. The SBTS plan is to improve, re-route where necessary and connect the various routes so that the Forest Service can adopt them as an official trail system.

That official status means the system can be promoted to attract visitors and boost the tourism economy.

“We anticipate that the designated trail opportunities for both motorized and non-motorized experiences will be of benefit to both the local Plumas County residents as well as bring in visitors that will help stimulate the local economy,” said Mt. Hough District Ranger Michael Donald.

The second part of the plan includes a motorized trail system (non-motorized users can still use these trails) across the slopes of Mount Hough and Grizzly Ridge.

The SBTS proposes to link existing roads and trails with 24.8 miles of singletrack and 2.8 miles of quad trail.

The work will be funded by two Plumas County Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) grants. SBTS is seeking funding for an additional 18 miles of totally new trail.

The proposed South Park–Mount Hough system grew out of negotiations between motorized users, represented by the Sierra Access Coalition (SAC), and non-motorized users.

The RAC originally recommended funding SBTS to develop South Park as a non-motorized system. The project got stalled during the Travel Management Plan process, which looked at motorized use on the Plumas National Forest.

Rather than let the project fall victim to that larger process, and potential litigation, Donald brokered an agreement whereby the motorized users agreed to forego access to South Park in exchange for motorized trails on Mount Hough. That agreement resulted in a second RAC proposal to develop motorized trails on Hough.

“One depends on the other,” Donald wrote to the RAC. “It is a venue for a variety of trail users to work together on both projects and gain understanding of each others’ concerns.”

“If the Plumas NF can offer users these two types of opportunities, it would increase tourism to our area and benefit the local economy,” Corky Lazzarino, executive director of SAC, wrote to the committee. SAC pledged 40 volunteer days to help with the project.

“This is an opportunity to unite the Quincy trail community,” said Greg Williams, executive director of SBTS.

The agreement marked the first time the RAC considered a motorized trail project.

Next week’s meeting is an opportunity for the general public to see the proposed systems and to give feedback. The Forest Service will initiate its own public input process at a later date.

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