NEVADA CITY, Calif. April 3, 2020 – On March 26, 2020, California State Parks announced it was temporarily closing vehicle access to some state parks to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), including the local South Yuba, Empire Mine and Donner Memorial parks. What happened since then is best described as a free for all, park anywhere scenario. Cars blocking gates, parked along the roadside but over the fog line, private driveways and neighboring streets clogged by vehicles. Independence Trail, near the South Yuba, has been especially impacted.
State Parks Superintendent Matt Green understands the desire to go outside and use the local parks. However, protecting the health of his staff and the first responders is paramount to him. “We still have contact with numerous members of the public each day on the trails, we still conduct medical rescues and searches.” Throughout these past two weeks, usage at all parks has skyrocketed.
Green was very concerned about cars parked along Hwy 49 and also on Pleasant Valley Road towards Bridgeport. The stretch of Hwy 49 between Nevada City and the South Yuba going towards North San Juan experienced a slew of near-misses with cars parked over the fog line.
Caltrans, who owns the right of way, agreed to help with barriers and signs last week, but the signs were ignored by the majority of park users. Drivers continued to park in unsafe locations and even blocked access for emergency vehicles. Green was reluctant to have his officers write citations, “If you are out of work now, the last thing you need is a ticket or have your car towed.”
K Rails in place at Independence Trail now
Parking along the access to Independence Trail rapidly became a safety issue. Asking people to respect the rules didn’t work, now concrete barriers are in place. Green collaborated with Caltrans and today K rails were installed.
“I’m thankful to the local Caltrans office for their help, their work will protect drivers on Hwy 49,” Green said.
Hopefully people will get the message and park safely. Cars can be towed if parked illegally and it’s a long walk to get cell phone reception.