by Hank Weston, District IV Supervisor-Nevada County Board of SupervisorsRice’s Crossing land acquisition. In June 2014 the Bear Yuba Land Trust, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, acquired 2,706 acres of pristine lands along a 9-mile stretch of the Middle Yuba River. Bordered by New Bullard’s Bar Reservoir to the north and Englebright Reservoir to the south, the property, known as Rice’s Crossing, was acquired for $3.25 million with a combination of funds from Proposition 84 (the Sierra Nevada Conservancy), the California Natural Resources Agency, and the CalTrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program.
The acquisition and protection of Rice's Crossing will make open space and river access points available along a six mile stretch of the Yuba River, offering miles of outstanding river corridor and river canyon ridge trails for mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking. There will be new trails connecting to public lands in the South Yuba River State Park, Plumas National Forest, New Bullard's Bar Recreation Area and the Tahoe National Forest, including a trail connecting Bullard’s Bar to Lake Englebright.
In addition to public access, the Land Trust acquisition of Rice's Crossing will enable restoration of wildlife corridors and important river fish habitat. Sustainable timber harvests and cattle grazing will play an important role in land stewardship. Furthermore, it will save a pristine area from development, for people to enjoy forever, while protecting our valuable watershed.
An estimated 250,000 people visit and enjoy the Yuba River every year. The new trail network, new access to the river, and magnificent views will increase the recreational opportunities in Nevada County and give us even more bragging rights as one of the most beautiful counties for outdoor recreation in the State.
Thanks to the Bear Yuba Land trust and its partners for their work in opening sections of the landscape to the public. The Rice’s Crossing land acquisition is a huge benefit to the Nevada County community and another reason why the 4th District is the best area of Nevada County.
As we reflect on enjoying and protecting the beautiful landscapes where we live, it is important to remember that fire has been a natural part of our ecosystem for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The relatively recent practice of suppressing that fire cycle to protect our homes and livestock has created an overgrowth of volatile fire fuels that would normally be cleared out by periodic small, relatively cool low-lying fires. Similarly, a lack of proper timber management has created dense, unhealthy forests that are susceptible to pests and catastrophic fires.
A healthy forest and healthy landscape not only protect our most valuable resources, but are important to our economy. Those industries engaged in fuels reduction and forest products infrastructure (sawmills, biomass/co-generation facilities and wood products) all stand to benefit from fuels reduction activities, providing a boost to our economy and maintaining attractive landscapes that draw tourist.
Now that we are in our 4th year of drought, it is more urgent than ever to clear our defensible space. Do it now while the weather is cool and before brush has a chance to turn brown and ignite. Clearing low-lying fire fuels around homes and along roads mimics the work normally done by naturally-occurring fires.
Our new Fire Marshal, George Morris III, has indicated that CAL FIRE is taking a new, aggressive strategy on fire prevention. Part of their strategy will include increasing defensible space inspections around the County. Maintaining defensible space is a requirement of the California Public Resources Code and thus enforceable by fire agencies. If a property owner is found to be in violation, he or she is typically given at least 30 days to bring their property into compliance before a citation is issued. Most property owners who are in violation are unaware of it, and they usually comply with no further complications.
If you are not sure how to make your property fire safe, the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County offers free defensible space education to anyone (though they would welcome a donation if you can afford it). You may call them at 272-1122 for an appointment, or visit their website for more information at http://www.areyoufiresafe.com.
Photo credit: John Hart, The Union newspaper