[Russell Towle's journal]
Meadow Vista Trails Association
[North Fork Trails blogpost, September 24, 2003:Last night I gve a talk to the Meadow Vista Trails Association (MVTA), in the back room of Mountain Mike's pizzeria. The largely equestrian audience was interested to hear about the old trails in the Placer high country, and the gradual loss of these trails to logging, subdivisions, gates, and so on. They were very well informed, and most seemed to know of the 1953 Placer County Board of Supervisors' ordinance, in which sixty-odd historic trails were declared to be "County roads" so as to secure continued public access.
It all went off well, though if I had a video projector to show pictures and maps it would have been even better.
I learned that some members of MVTA have been GPS-ing trails in that area and supplying maps to Placer County, so that, possibly, in the course of future land subdivision and issuance of building permits, the County will be in a position to protect such-and-such trail. For who can really blame the County when it allows an old trail to be blocked, if the County never knew it existed?
We of the NFARA have discussed doing this same thing. It is such a good idea, to develop a database of mapped trails, and provide the information to Placer County, Tahoe National Forest, and the BLM. I have supplied Placer County with GPSed maps of the Canyon Creek and Green Valley trails, but so much more could be done!
Ron Gould and I have been making minute examinations of various old maps, and correlating the old trails depicted therein with the modern USGS 7.5-minute topographic maps. The old maps are full of errors, large and small. Somewhat strangely, our modern USGS maps have plenty of errors too; for instance, some of the trails shown down in Green Valley on the Dutch Flat quadrangle never existed.
Ron recently discovered 1928 and 1939 Tahoe National Forest maps showing quite a few trails which no longer appear on modern maps. The trail from Gold Run to Iowa Hill by way of Fords Bar crossed the North Fork on a bridge, labeled "Warner Bridge" on the 1939 map. Ron asked me what I knew of that. Yesterday, while leafing through my own "Dutch Flat Chronicles," I found the very legal notice, published in the "Dutch Flat Forum" newspaper in 1875(?), in which one J.E. Warner applied to the Placer County BOS for permission to operate a toll bridge at Fords Bar.
Hence Warner Bridge on the 1939 TNF map! The bridge is long gone. Curiously, this map shows the Blue Wing Trail, on the Iowa Hill side of the North Fork at Warner Bridge, as a road! 'Twas never.
Unfortunately, the Gold Run terminus of this historic trail has a brand-new subdivision plunked right atop it, and public access there has ended.
Gold Run and the North Fork American W&SR
[North Fork Trails blogpost, September 24, 2003For years I have been wondering why the BLM allows mining claims on its lands in the Gold Run Diggings. Recently I have tried once again to discover the basis for this BLM policy. For, there is a special northward extension of the North Fork American W&SR corridor; and lands within the W&SR corridor ought to be closed to mineral entry.
In 1978 Congress added the North Fork American River to our national Wild & Scenic River system. The relevant part of this legislation reads as follows:
(21) AMERICAN, CALIFORNIA. — The North Fork from a point 0.3 mile above Heath Springs downstream to a point approximately 1,000 feet upstream of the Colfax-Iowa Hill Bridge, including the Gold Run Addition Area, as generally depicted on the map entitled, "Proposed Boundary Maps" contained in Appendix I of the document dated January 1978 and entitled, "A Proposal: North Fork American Wild and Scenic River" published by the United States Forest Service, Department of Agriculture; to be designated as a wild river and to be administered by agencies of the Departments of Interior and Agriculture as agreed upon by the Secretaries of such Departments or as directed by the President.Why did Congress create the special Addition? Because the Diggings are wild, they are beautiful, they are historic, and there are two trails—the Canyon Creek and Pickering Bar trails—which give access to the North Fork American itself. Congress recognized that the Gold Run Diggings constitute a kind of "portal" to the North Fork American.
Now, it happens that in the more southern part of the Gold Run Diggings, there is very much BLM land. These BLM lands are just those which lie within the so-called "Gold Run Addition" as mentioned in the legislation, above. Yet the Folsom BLM has, over all the time it has managed the lands at Gold Run, and in particular, since 1978, considered that these BLM lands within the Addition are open to "mineral entry," i.e., to mining claims.
A careful examination of the "big" Tahoe National Forest map will reveal that all these BLM lands in the Diggings are marked as within the W&SR corridor. Ordinarily, the W&SR corridor is considered to extend only one-quarter mile from the center of the river. Yet Congress wanted to extend the corridor to the north at Gold Run, and created the special Addition.
Ordinarily, all public lands within any river's W&SR corridor are immediately "withdrawn from mineral entry," that is, closed to any further mining claims. I believe it is also typical for there to be an off-highway-vehicle (OHV) closure on all public lands within the W&SR corridor. This a natural consequence of managing a river to be a Wild & Scenic River.
Yet at Gold Run, BLM lands remain open to mineral entry and to OHVs.
This has led to significant adverse impacts upon BLM lands at Gold Run. For instance, one claimant, apparently, used his key to the BLM gate at the end of Garrett Road to bring a backhoe and dump truck into the Diggings and remove large quantitites of petrified wood. The pieces weighed in the 200-300 pound range, but included the very last petrified log of any size exposed at the surface, around fifteen feet long and two to three feet in diameter. This happened just a few years ago.
These impacts include blading out roads wider with a bulldozer, creating new roads, and making many "test pits" to justify the existence of a valid mining claim. In fact, so far as I have been able to discover, it was these mining claimants who placed the gate at the end of Garrett Road. They, the claimants, actually made the very policy which excludes the rest of us from driving in to the head of the Pickering Bar Trail.
Now, in this last case, I reluctantly go along with the adverse impact. The gate reduces vehicular access to a wild and beautiful area I like to hike in. That makes it nicer for hiking. Also, there had been problems with squatters down that road, before the gate went in.
Nevertheless, I oppose leaving these lands within the special Gold Run Addition open to mining claims. And I still do not understand the basis for this BLM policy. I am told that the "master plats" or master maps upon which the BLM relies do not show the Addition as within the W&SR corridor. Why not?
For, after all, Congress itself wrote
"... including the Gold Run Addition Area, as generally depicted on the map entitled, 'Proposed Boundary Maps' contained in Appendix I of the document dated January 1978 and entitled, 'A Proposal: North Fork American Wild and Scenic River' published by the United States Forest Service ... ."
The TNF map reflects the extended corridor as depicted in the 1978 "Proposed Boundary Maps." The BLM master plats do not. Why? I still do not understand.
Everything within the Gold Run Addition ought to be closed to mineral entry and closed to OHV use.
Deane Swickard, Area Manager of Folsom BLM, tells me that in 2004 a new management plan will be developed for the entire Folsom Resource Area. There will be opportunity for public comment. Perhaps at that time we can exert influence to exclude the BLM lands at Gold Run from mineral entry and OHV use.