April 16, 2009 - In the process of flagging the route for the new South Fork American River Trail (from Cronan Ranch to the newly acquired trailhead at Salmon Falls) the American River Conservancy and its partner the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") ran into a significant and unexpected obstacle. Dead center on the trail corridor immediately above Surprise Rapid and at a particularly narrow choke point, was a significant population of federally-listed rare plants, including Stebbin's morning glory (Calystegia stebbinsii) which is federally listed as endangered. Moving the trail route to the south would place the trail over very steep and dangerous ground. Moving the trail to the north was equally difficult due to private ownership. After serious consultation with the resource agencies there was only one reasonable solution. Purchase a 40 acre portion of the adjoining 160 acre parcel and reroute the trail outside of rare plant habitat, away from steep canyon terrain and back into gently- sloped oak woodland.
Over the past two months the Conservancy has been in negotiation with the private land owner and happily a purchase agreement has been reached. The upside is the Conservancy will receive an easement lease that will allow construction across this privately held (and to-be-acquired) parcel, in concert with trail construction on adjoining public lands over the next few months (May and June, 2009). The downside is the Conservancy is required to raise the balance of purchase funding ($400,000) by the end of this year. Our contractual closing date is December 15, 2009.
The Conservancy will be pulling out all the stops to raise funds from public agencies and private foundations for this purchase but times are hard and grant funding is challenging at best. The Coloma-Lotus Community will once again sponsor TrailFest on Monday evening, June 8th and proceeds from this event (historically around $25,000) will go toward this trail project.
We have come a long ways in the past 20 years towards the completion of this river canyon protection and public trail project. The end is in sight and the American River Conservancy is completely committed to seeing this trail completed and enjoyed by hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers alike.
If you have any ability to help the Conservancy again in completing this trail project, please make a donation and/or contact the staff of the American River Conservancy. Trail construction questions can be addressed to Lauren Fety or Alan Ehrgott at (530) 295-2190. Donations or bequests in support of the trail project can be addressed to David Morrill or Julie Andert at (530) 621-1224.
Thank you again very much for all of your past support of the American River Conservancy. It is what has brought us this far over the past 20 years.
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