February 7 (1984, 2005, 2006)

2/7/84   Morning. The amazing, sunny weather continues. It has not inspired me to stay inside. On the contrary...

Kelley and I made a third ski trip together to the Mt. Rose area.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

BLM Planning Process
[North Fork Trails blog post, February 7, 2005:
http://northforktrails.blogspot.com/2005/02/blm-planning-process.html ]
The Folsom Area Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is [at the time, 2005] engaged in revising its management plan. Below please find a letter to [John Scull] with regard to this plan, in which I used a "comment form" devised by the BLM.

I hope all of you will send similar letters (emails). The BLM needs to hear from us! Please copy me if possible.
Dear Mr. Scull,

I have heard that Folsom BLM will be forming a new Resource Management Plan for the lands it administers. I wish to make some comments and suggestions, in this email, and will use your "Comment Form" as a template. I understand that I should limit myself to one topic per Comment Form; so here is one topic.

I also wish to be added to your mailing list.

Here then, are my comments:

Topic/Issue: North Fork American River
Watershed: American

I think the BLM ought to:

The BLM ought to protect the wildness, beauty, and public access to the North Fork American Wild & Scenic River, including the entire canyon and canyon rim. Use land acquisition as a principal tool. That is, continue the BLM's past efforts to purchase private inholdings in the North Fork canyon, but expand the scope of these efforts, and increase the pace of the acquisitions.

In particular, in 1978 Congress created the Gold Run Addition (GRA) to the NF W&SR. The BLM was ordered to pursue land acquisitions in the GRA. No lands have been purchased. Private lands within the GRA are currently for sale, making some 250 acres, part of 800 acres which extend through the Diggings, north, to I-80.
  • The BLM ought to buy all 800 acres for sale at Gold Run.
  • The BLM ought to close BLM lands in and around the GRA to mineral entry and quiet all existing claims. That would include the 800 acres mentioned above.
  • The BLM ought to post an OHV closure on the GRA.
  • The BLM ought to restore public access, if only by foot, horse, and bicycle, to the Fords Bar Trail at Gold Run.
  • The BLM ought to restore public access to the Paleobotanist Trail, near Garrett Road, within the GRA.
  • The BLM ought to seek to acquire every private parcel on both canyon rims, from Lovers Leap on the east to (at least) Secret Canyon on the west, to protect the viewshed, maintain open space, and preserve public access to old trails and scenic overlooks.
  • The BLM ought to acquire private inholdings on the Blue Wing Trail, northeast of Iowa Hill.
  • The BLM ought to employ a full-time resident Ranger at Gold Run.
  • The BLM ought to perform a Wilderness Study on the North Fork canyon from Green Valley on the east to Fords Bar on the west, and seek Wilderness designation.
  • The BLM ought to close the Truro Mine Road to motorized access. This road could be used as a mountain bike trail.
  • The BLM ought to restore public access to the Roach Hill Road, through to Giant Gap Ridge, if only by foot, horse, and bicycle.

The North Fork American River is quite rarely wild and beautiful, and should stay that way for the enjoyment of future generations. Already a W&SR, it could well become a National Park. Folsom BLM has done some wonderful things to preserve the North Fork, and should do more. It was frankly realized in the W&SR studies of the 1970s that the North Fork is in a rapidly growing area, and that special care would be needed to preserve the viewshed and protect public access. What was true then is only so much more true now, with millions and millions more people in California. There was urgency then, there should be even more urgency, now. Public access to our historic trails is a critical part of the future of the North Fork. Scenic values are exceptional and irreplaceable. Wild lands and open spaces are of great importance to our quality of life in California.

Russell Towle
P.O. Box 141
Dutch Flat, CA 95714

Thanks for your consideration of these matters.

Russell Towle

Visit to Canyon Creek
[North Fork Trails blogpost, February 7, 2006:
Hi all,

Late this morning, on impulse, I threw somethings in my pack and drove to the Canyon Creek Trail in the Gold Run Diggings. The little bridge across the creek is gone, ripped away in the flood event of the beginning of the year. It should be replaced, and The Inimitable Julie, as well as Catherine O'Riley, have advocated immediate action.

So, one of the things in my pack was my 25-foot tape measure. I recalled the old bridge as about twelve feet long; but my recollections have become suspect, and it seemed good to measure the chasm once again.

When building a bridge one seeks a narrow crossing-point. Then the bridge will be as short as possible. Hence, in terrain like this, one seeks an "inner gorge," a place of exposed bedrock where the channel has narrowed.

This is just the case at the Canyon Creek bridge site. Except during floods, the creek is confined within rock walls six feet apart.

However, the old bridge, built in 1998, was not twelve, but a little less than fourteen feet long, I determined once I arrived. It had been made using two 2X6 joists, with 2X6 blocking a foot long nailed between them every 32 inches, and a deck of three 2X6s laid lengthwise, parallel to the joists, attached to both blocking and joists using deck screws. One end was trapped rigidly within a gap in the bedrock, the other end rested on sloping smooth rock; gravity held it in place; had it been anchored, there is a chance it might have survived this last flood. For it was a sturdy little thing. No railing; that spooked a number of people.

It was a glorious day, incredibly warm. Canyon Creek was loud, boisterous, surging clear green water with long stretches of frothing white rapids. I had hoped to jump the creek and continue down the trail, but no, it is still too high.

So I walked around and looked at the bridge site from many angles. Of course one wants a bridge which stands high enough not to be ripped out every ten years. But the higher one places the bridge deck, the longer the bridge becomes.

I determined that by raising the level of the bridge about five to six feet, its length would grow to slightly over 20 feet.

Some homemade, arched, glue-laminated beams might serve. Then, blocking as before, and a bridge deck as before. But now the bridge would stand fifteen feet above the creek, not eight feet, and a railing would become essential, and the bridge deck must be widened to at least two feet.

I saw that bobcats, or a bobcat, had been frequenting the area, pooping here there and everywhere on the water-carved and polished bedrock.

The rock here seems to be some metamorphosed volcanic mudflows and ashflows (perhaps; it would take a real petrologist with a microscope to be sure). The original strata are now tipped up near vertical. The rock seems quite siliceous and takes a high polish; it is various light colors, greys and tans, and makes a kind of fairyland of sculptured rock blades, rounded under the grinding impacts of a thousand floods. There are gigantic bolts and iron pins sprouting from the rocks, which once anchored the broad sluice boxes of the Canyon Creek Placer Mine, in the 1870s and early 1880s.

The wooden sluice boxes were lined with narrow-gauge railroad track running lengthwise, and many pieces of this "sluice iron" are now embedded in the boulder-bars along the creek. Some have been bent into giant horseshoes six feet across, by some rending flood of years gone by. Some have been worn into threads of iron--or could it be steel?--during their time in the sluice boxes.

So the sluice iron itself is rather sculptural in character. Only rarely are the pieces of worn railroad track straight.

I have always thought that a bridge might be made from this sluice iron. I have all kids of ideas about making trusses and so on. A welding torch, a drill, some half-inch bolts and so on, and voila!

But my ideas usually involve long pieces of almost-straight sluice iron. Twenty feet long, say. And there really aren't any of those. There are quite a few, though, over ten feet in length.

After an hour or so I strolled back up the trail. What a beautiful creek, what a beautiful day.

1 comment:

  1. Probably as part of the management plan the BLM did close the Truro Mine Road and have closed the GRA to OHVs.