Monday, March 8, 2021

 8 March 2021

I’m back with good news to report!  Jonathan Keehn, Josie Crawford and I recently met with other members of the Wolf Creek Trail Phase II Project Development Team.  The purpose of the Zoom gathering was to view and discuss options regarding a draft preliminary alignment for the continuation of the Wolf Creek Trail.  Project manager Derek Hitchcock, other members of his team from Surf 2 Snow, Grass Valley city engineer Bjorn Jones, Bill Haire from the land trust, and several CalTrans representatives filled out the team.

Using the 2006 Conceptual Plan as a starting point, we acknowledged from the get go that much of it is unrealistic and problematic due to engineering, right-of-way, and COST obstacles.  Our agreed upon goal is to come up with a preferred alignment that is realistic, buildable, and affordable.  Having CalTrans actively at the table helps greatly in that regard.

As part of the process we submitted written comments detailing our preferences, which were echoed by the BYLT.   The Project Development Team will meet again in June to finalize the draft, then embark upon a series of public outreach meetings and presentations, with the final product hopefully wrapped up by January or February.  

In the meantime an active volunteer effort in trail building continues on the Daspah Seyo Trail.  This is the lower dirt extension of the Wolf Creek Trail that runs closer to the creek below the existing paved trail.  We recently met with Bjorn Jones to design a bridge over Little Wolf Creek at the confluence with the main stem.  This section will be completed this year for sure! And behind the scenes we are moving forward on both the Berriman Ranch and Newmont connections to the Trail.  We can expect positive developments soon in regards to both of those additions to our system.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

 22 September 2020

Good forward movement from the BYLT Trails Planning Committee!  The entire group has a dozen or so participants.  In the most recent meeting we broke out into three smaller groups - an impressive Zoom feat in and of itself - each of which will focus on a particular area and then report back to the whole.

The three groups are Nevada City/Pioneer, Litton, and Wolf Creek.  Long time board member Terry Hundemer heads up the NC section, Bill Haire the Litton, and Erin Tarr the Wolf Creek project.  Members of the committee could join whichever sub-group they wished.  The Wolf Creek group is comprised of Erin, Shaun Clarke, and myself.

Each group will endeavor to expand their section in multi-directions, fill in some gaps, and ultimately connect the whole darn thing.  For example the Litton group seeks to extend over to Condon Park and up to the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, while including both the Yuba River Charter School and 7-Hills School.

I am thrilled that the Wolf Creek group has just three members, making it easier to move forward.  Our agenda includes the following:

Continue working with the city on the dirt path alternative to the paved Wolf Creek Trail, including placing a bridge over the confluence of the main creek and Little Wolf.  The city is actively involved in this.  Signage will describe the alternative as the Daspah Seyo Trail.

Erin will contact the local manager of the Newmont Mine property.  We hope to have a site meeting soon to discuss the bridge over to that property from Daspah Seyo, a new trail downstream on the conservation easement the BYLT already has, with connections from there up to the North Star House and back across the creek to the Berriman Ranch Trail.

I’ll be checking in with the city of Grass Valley on the status of the Berriman development and also the soon to be trotted out Newmont development. 

I’ll also be checking in with Derek Hitchcock to see how his project is progressing.

Shaun will do some research on the possibilities of connecting the Berriman or main trail with Empire Mine State Park. 

Any further developments on any of this and more will be written about right here!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

 11 August 2020

After a bit of a pause I am pleased to share a few positive developments.  But first I must say that walking remains an integral part of our regimen in the era of Covid, and how great it is to see how popular the Wolf Creek Trail has become.  Besides taking a few strolls there, every time I pass by the Mining Museum the trailhead parking lot is FULL!

That BYLT Trails Planning Committee meeting I mentioned in the previous post was delayed and then canceled - until last week when I participated in the inaugural via Zoom.  I was impressed with the group and the manner in which Erin Tarr and Erika Seward hosted.  I see great value in the group and believe it will serve as a catalyst to move trail awareness and trail connectivity forward, including of course the Wolf Creek Trail.

Speaking of that, funding for the Phase II Design, Engineering, and Permitting Project has been awarded to Surf to Snow, an environmental design and consulting firm based in San Ramon.  If you are thinking “why San Ramon?” worry not.  The project manager is Derek Hitchcock who grew up around here and is the son of long time friend of all rivers and creeks Ralph Hitchcock.  Derek’s team includes several other prominent locals.  

We at the WCCA will be paying very close attention to Derek’s project, which for now has a projected end date of June 30, 2021.  The purpose of the project is just as it sounds - to investigate specific design and engineering concerns - and research permitting requirements necessary to extend the trail from Glenn Jones Park up to the corner of Idaho-Maryland and Sutton.  This is indeed a major development with the City of Grass Valley fully behind it.

I’ll be sharing progress of the Trails Committee and this project as things progress!

Friday, January 3, 2020

3 January 2020

As we enter the twenties, there are a number of reasons for optimism regarding the Wolf Creek Trail.  First, trails and trail connections remain an integral part of the soon to be published Wolf Creek Strategic Plan.  To help move things along I am pleased to be joining the Bear Yuba Land Trust Trails Committee.  The next meeting is in February. 

Second, the city has put out and received a bonafide proposal for a preliminary study of the possible routes and engineering issues for Phase II of the Wolf Creek Trail.  We are hopeful the contract (to be funded by a grant through CalTrans) will be awarded soon.  Expect to hear all about it in this log.

Third, the city staff and council remain committed to the trail.  The new Berriman Ranch development will include trails along the creek with connections to shopping areas and the brand new existing trail (see previous log).  The possibility of a couple of small pocket parks will also be explored. 

Stay Tuned!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Wolf Creek Trail

1 October 2019

Check out the new Wolf Creek Trail!

On a recent morning Sally and I took a stroll on the new trail.  It begins from the parking lot of the Mining Museum on Allison Ranch Road.  You descend on freshly laid black-top, do a zig, a zag, a loop, and head downstream through Glenn Jones Park. The first thing you see is an unobstructed view of Wolf Creek gushing merrily out from the culvert under Hwy 20.  You head through the park close to the creek and directly across from the museum, which is definitely worth a look.

Proceeding downstream you quickly come to the wastewater treatment plant, blocked by a chain link fence.  This used to be the end of the line. From here the trail veers left up a slope along the perimeter of the plant and behind GV Animal Control.  When you emerge at the entrance to the plant just walk to the right and continue downstream along the fence.  Once past the plant there is an upper and lower option, as well as the chance to venture along a dirt trail at the water’s edge.  It is down that dirt track where students from Grass Valley Charter School continue to act as trail stewards, and assist the Wolf Creek Community Alliance (WCCA) in regular monitoring of the quality and quantity of the water.  The dirt path ends at the confluence with Little Wolf Creek which comes down from Empire Mine State Park. This is a lovely spot and could eventually be developed into a picnic area.

The main trail turns upslope again and emerges from the mixed conifer and hardwood forest at the infamous sinkhole.  A spur switchbacks up to Freeman Lane and the main trail continues downstream.  Soon one is right above the creek in a steep heavily wooded area.  Almost imperceptibly at first, the sound of the creek grows louder and louder and soon commands your attention.  Stop for a moment.  You are now in the deepest part of the Wolf Creek canyon and will remain so the rest of the way.  We mused about starting in a park, followed by an urban area with accompanying sights, sounds, and smells - and had now entered a place that was surprising wild.  We found this to be an intriguing part of the whole experience.  Toward the end you pass by a steep stairway up to the Wolf Creek Lodge, and end up on switchbacks leading to River Otter Lane.  We returned the same way, about a two mile round trip.   

The trail is well engineered, designed for multiple use, and accessible via wheelchair.  The eight foot wide blacktop makes the trail an ideal winter walk as you could stay out of the mud!  It’s a great place to go with a friend or two, and for dogs on a leash.  The trailhead is about 3/4 of a mile from downtown, and easily walkable down the Mill Street sidewalk - which adds another mile and a half to the round trip.

Many thanks to the city, the WCCA, and Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) for making this happen.  In a strange twist of fate we must also give a nod to the massive sinkhole that sprang from the overburdened culvert on Little Wolf Creek.  That mess led city officials deep into the canyon. They found two things - a beautiful spot remarkably close to town and major homeless encampments.  With resolve the city jumped on the opportunity to move forward on the trail that had been talked about for decades.  More on the homeless connection to area creeks another time.

So where do we go from here?  The city appears to be committed to continuing the trail all the way through downtown and up to the Loma Rica development.  There are plans to continue downstream to the Berriman Ranch subdivision.  There’s a potential spur up to the North Star House.  Expect to read more about each of these possibilities and more in the coming months.  Good to be back!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

16 March 2016

Been awhile so here’s a brief update.  Albeit slowly things are just beginning to move forward again, just as spring buds emerge from our wonderfully wet winter!

At the invitation of Keith Davies of the Greater GV Chamber of Commerce, I spoke for five minutes at their most recent board meeting to let them know about the involvement of the BYLT.  Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt continues to build key relationships with city personnel.  She and her staff are preparing for a presentation to the City Council about the Parkway in June.  Hopefully I can leverage my meeting with the Chamber into public awareness contacts with other civic groups in the coming months.  I was well received and Howard Levine added a few encouraging words to my remarks.  Thanks Keith.

Speaking of public awareness, on April 21 and 22 (Earth Day) once again the lower parking lot at the Holiday Inn Express will witness the creek coming into the light of day via the 3rd Annual Wolf Creek Chalk Art Project.  As in prior years I am helping to coordinate this project with Jennifer Scott and Alex Ezzell.  Participating artists are two fourth grade classes from the Grass Valley Charter School and art students from Bitney College Prep High School.  Thanks as always to General Manager Sean Gilleran.  Come by and check it out!

Don Pelton is in communication with NCTV about having the 2014 film “A Creek Runs Through It,” available for viewing via their website.  And of course it remains available on You Tube.

Key components remain the potential acquisition of the corner lot at Idaho-Maryland and Sutton, and the commencement of the new wastewater treatment plant and connecting trail downstream of Glen Jones Park by Newmont Mine.  And of course the BYLT presentation to the Council prepares the way for the first potential action by the City Council since adoption of the Conceptual Plan in 2006.  STAY TUNED!

I’ll keep plugging away and will attend the next meeting of the Bear River Watershed Group on the sixth of April.  At that meeting stakeholders will create collaborative goals and objectives for the Restoration Plan, based on issues identified in the Disturbance Inventory put together at the last meeting.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stewards Log 9 July 2015

Happy July!  And happy developments, incremental as they are.  (Who said this was going to happen overnight anyway!)  For nearly two years I have been sharing information and updates about the Parkway with Marty Coleman-Hunt, Executive Director of the Bear Yuba Land Trust.  As you might expect she is very busy with all the pots she stirs already.  Nevertheless, as she learned more about the potential for a trail and pocket parks along Wolf Creek, she took it upon herself to bring some of her board and staff on board, and meet with GV City Councilman Howard Levine and City Manager Bob Richardson.

The city folks have responded in a positive manner and now seem poised to move forward - albeit in slow and deliberate baby steps.  Jane, Jonathan, and I met with Marty, Bill Haire, and two board members in May.  In June I led Marty, staffer Laura Peterson, and board member Michael Smiley on a walking and driving tour of several key sections of the Conceptual Plan, and possible alternate routes.  They in turn showed me the area thru which portions of the Larimer Trail (downstream of the Mining Museum) is poised to be built by Newmont.

The Land Trust people are enthusiastic to help move this project forward - touting it to the city as the beginning stages of a comprehensive trail system with links key areas of town, and additional trails and/or links upstream, down, and in-between.  Going forward Marty will be the point person in this effort.  At present she is working to get Howard and Bob out on a similar tour of the potential trails.  I will continue to work with Marty and her people in whatever capacity I can, as well as continue my efforts to show the film to groups around town.  I have a couple of feelers out in that regard.

It is also my pleasure to represent WCCA (and advocate for Wolf Creek) as one of many stakeholders in the Bear Watershed Group.  The BWG is charged with coming up with a Restoration Plan for the entirety of the Bear River Watershed. There have been two meetings thus far, with funding funneled through SSI for four more bimonthly gatherings.  To date the group has identified key components to a comprehensive disturbance inventory.  These will be prioritized at the September meeting, which will result in a monitoring and data collection program, that would in turn drive and provide additional data to help form the restoration plan itself.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

I close with a notion recently put forward by Benjamin Hale, Associate Professor of Environmental Philosophy at the University of Colorado.  We all understand what trespassing is.  As the Parkway comes to light the Land Trust, the WCCA, and the City of Grass Valley agree that no trespass, taking, or disturbance of any parcels of private property will take place without legal agreement from the owners in the form of a trail or conservation easement.  That’s a given.

But can it also be construed that roads, fences, parking lots, homes, and businesses that are allowed to exist along the creek without proper setback and bank protection; along with any toxic or illegal discharge or pumping is in effect “trespassing?”  Trespassing against all of us and the integrity and possibly legal standing of the creek that is as yet unrecognized as such but is in essence part of the Grass Valley Commons?