New Parkways Grants for Tribute Trail and Yuba River Acquisition Projects

NEVADA CITY, 28 November 2012 – The Sierra Fund has won two new grants for the next phases of the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, while the Bear Yuba Land Trust has received funding to acquire a key property on the Middle Yuba.

New swimming holes, fishing areas, easy hiking trails, rugged wilderness trails, equestrian staging area, mountain biking adventures will soon be opened for public use in our community.  California Secretary of Natural Resources, John Laird and the California Water Resources Agency publicly announced today approved funding for new trails, open space and recreation lands on Deer Creek and the Middle Yuba River, in a ceremony in Sacramento today.

Local conservation groups are working together to create additional recreation amenities and conservation lands to the community. Bear Yuba Land Trust, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, has been approved to receive $1.9 million for the acquisition of the 2,706-acre Rice’s Crossing on the Middle Yuba River.  Additionally, The Sierra Fund has been approved for funding in the amount of $1.3 million for the expansion of the Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City.  These awards combined total $3.2 million, approximately 10% of all the funds granted through this program to the whole state of California.

Funding awarded to Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) for the acquisition of the Rice’s Crossing property will be matched by a previous award of $1 million in Sierra Nevada Conservancy funding awarded to The Sierra Fund in 2007 and $350,000 in Caltrans’ Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program funding awarded to The Trust for Public Land in 2009.  In total $3.25 million has been committed to the acquisition of this property.

“The Yuba River is one of the Sierra’s true treasures, and it helps the state achieve its water supply, quality and reliability goals,” said Sierra Nevada Conservancy Executive Officer Jim Branham.  “We are proud to contribute $1 million to a project that protects this asset and creates more public enjoyment and recreational access to the river and its adjoining wildlife area.”

The Rice’s Crossing property is comprised of 2,706 acres spanning both sides of the Middle Yuba River and bounded by New Bullard’s Bar Reservoir to the North and an Army Corps of Engineers day use area and the South Yuba River State Park and Englebright Reservoir on the south.  BYLT will lead construction of 15-20 miles of multi-use trails that will ultimately connect to existing trail networks within the South Yuba River State Park, Tahoe National Forest, the Bullard’s Bar Trail System, and Plumas National Forest.  Trail development and public access is expected to become available within 2-3 years of the completed property acquisition.

Efforts to acquire and protect the Rice’s Crossing Property have been underway for over a decade with many national and local groups participating.  Following its acquisition by The Trust for Public Land, the property will be conveyed to Bear Yuba Land Trust for long-term stewardship.

“We thank them all for their tireless work and thoughtful contributions to making this a success.  Many groups have worked with us to secure this funding, including The Trust for Public Land, The Sierra Fund, South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), Gold Country Trails Council and Bicyclists of Nevada County (BONC),” said Marty Coleman-Hunt, executive director for BYLT.  “Hikers and river visitors to the South Yuba River State Park are now forced to stop at the Rice’s Crossing property line because of a locked fence.  Opening this stretch of the Yuba River to the public will provide connectivity to, and thereby enhance the use of, adjacent state and federal managed lands.”

BYLT’s ownership and management of the Rice’s Crossing property will improve and permanently protect the region’s biodiversity, watershed health, and habitat for a range of resident, migratory, threatened and endangered species.  The project will re-establish wildlife corridors and restore an important mid-elevation transition zone of the Yuba River to facilitate future habitat restoration efforts for salmon and native trout.

“This property knits together more than 8,500 acres of protected open space and contains six miles of the Yuba River,” said Markley Bavinger, Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land.  “The Trust for Public Land has been working with members of this community to protect this magnificent property for many years; this funding from the River Parkways Grant Program is really a dream come true for many river, wildlife and recreation enthusiasts.”

The Sierra Fund has been approved for funding in the amount of $563,000 for the expansion of the Deer Creek Tribute Trail including a new bridge spanning the Creek, matching funds for the bridge received earlier by American Rivers for this project.  This new bridge will be built on land owned by Nevada City just downstream from town.   Deer Creek Tribute Trail memorializes the early contributions of native Nisenan and Chinese people to the history of this place. The trail along Little Deer Creek connects downtown Nevada City  along the canyon of Deer Creek west of town to a beautiful plaza at Stocking Flat on Deer Creek with a Chinese Bridge across Deer Creek to a forested loop trail.

In addition, The Sierra Fund received funding in the amount of $739,000 to acquire additional land that borders Nevada City along Deer Creek.  This land will be given to Nevada City as open space and natural habitat.

“The Sierra Fund will continue to work with the many partners that have helped build the Tribute Trail to develop these new project elements.  We are grateful to the people of California for this generous and visionary gift to our community,” noted Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin of The Sierra Fund.

The California Natural Resources Agency today announced over $34 million in funding for 33 proposed river parkway projects statewide. These projects will create recreation opportunities for families, restore fish and wildlife habitat, provide flood management, and enhance California’s river parkways.  The grants will be used to acquire, restore, protect and develop areas along rivers, streams and creeks to conserve natural resources and improve public access. In total, the grants will fund more than 31 miles of trails and more than 7,500 acres of wildlife habitat restoration and land acquisition.

“Our river parkway grants help communities connect children with nature, promote public health by providing families with greater outdoor recreational opportunities, and protect the rivers that provide us with clean water,” said Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “The river parkways program is a great example of local agencies working together with the state to create increasingly sustainable communities in California.”

In 2006, California voters passed Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act, which authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to benefit river parkway projects.  The California River Parkways Program, a competitive grant program administered by the secretary for natural resources, awards funds to public agencies and non-profit organizations to develop river parkways in their communities.

All proposed projects awarded funding must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Funding for proposed project implementation is contingent upon satisfactory evidence of compliance with CEQA. To be approved by lead agency decision makers, the proposed projects may change as a result of the CEQA process. However, any changes to the proposed projects must continue to meet all the objectives of the River Parkways Program and be consistent with the intent cited in the original applications.