For many Nevada County residents, outdoor recreation is like oxygen. It is essential and it is the reason many of us choose to live here. Similarly, many of us put down roots here, away from larger cities, because we’re drawn to the beauty that is right in our backyards, the privacy that rural living offers, and to escape the noise and friction that often come with more people. And yet, at times, these two priorities come into conflict.

In late September 2021, District 5 Supervisor Hardy Bullock and County of Nevada staff, including Community Development Agency Director Trisha Tillotson, hosted the Hirschdale Listening Session. This public meeting sought to gather community input and identify stakeholders on recreation access and property rights conflicts that flared up along the Truckee River in the Hirschdale area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased use of private property to access the Truckee River and adjacent trails led to a significant increase in trash and human waste, illegal camping and campfires, and other nuisances. In response, landowners have installed gates and taken other measures to prevent trespassing and protect their property. However, the result was that some recreationalists, including bicyclists, whitewater rafters, fly fishers, and kayakers, lost access to an area they cherish and have used for decades.

The County has formed a stakeholder working group to develop potential solutions that take the interests of everyone involved into consideration. The working group consists of representatives from several recreational groups and landowners in the impacted area. They will be developing suggestions for short-term and long-term recreation access while protecting private property rights, reducing trash, fire threats, and loitering/trespassing.  These suggestions will also help inform the development of a recreation master plan for Nevada County, including opportunities for formal public input and comment by all.

The working group’s efforts are expected to be completed in early 2022, after which their suggestions, including both short-term solutions for 2022 and longer-term solutions, will be made public.

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