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YubaNet file photo from the 2013 Tyler Fire.

NEVADA CITY, Calif. August 2, 2016 – The Yuba Fire, currently held in check by firefighters, has revealed a worrisome problem in the Yuba river canyon. Numerous extinguished campfires and fire rings were found by crews hiking in to the fire.

The checkerboard ownership in the canyon has long been used by irresponsible campers as an excuse to have their campfires in the canyon. State Parks and BLM own the majority of the land between Purdon and Edwards Crossing on the South Yuba Trail. On BLM land, you may camp, with a valid camp permit, for up to fourteen days. No camping is allowed on State Parks land, it is day use only.

No camp fires allowed anywhere

Now in the fifth year of a drought, fire danger is extremely high. Therefore, even BLM has issued fire restrictions: Open fires are not allowed outside of posted, developed campgrounds and recreation sites, even with a campfire permit.  Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, pressurized liquid fuel or jellied petroleum may be used outside of developed campgrounds and recreation areas.  Campfire permits are required.  Permits are available at BLM, Forest Service and Cal Fire offices.

A CAL FIRE prevention officer accessing the fire educated some campers that had a fire roaring around 11 am, clearly oblivious to the posted signs.

Daily foot patrols are urgently needed

The absence of regular patrols in the canyon has led to several fires over the years. While all agencies are short-staffed, a rotation of law enforcement officers could be set up and jointly patrol public lands.

With the bulk of the fire season still ahead of us, the risk a fire in the canyon poses is too great to be left unaddressed. The mutual aid system has proven its efficiency when it comes to fighting fires, could a similar system prevent a catastrophic fire?

Cell phone use

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Locals regularly report getting into arguments with campers. Do not confront campers, report them and the exact location of their fire. While cell phones rarely work in river canyons, you can still use the GPS function to get a precise location. Open the map app of your choice and drop a pin at the location. An exact location, be that for a fire or a medical emergency, will shorten response time for firefighters and medics. So will parking in permissible spots, instead of blocking the roadway.

Camping rules

Edwards Crossing – NO overnight camping. Overnight parking OK.  The area between a ¼ mile downstream and a ½ mile upstream from Edwards Crossing is a high-density recreation area – DAY USE ONLY.

Purdon Crossing – NO overnight camping. Overnight parking OK in two designated parking spaces for no more than 7 days.  Approximately 1 mile from Purdon Crossing to China Dam is a high-density recreation area – DAY USE ONLY.

19 replies on “Yuba Fire reveals a systemic problem in the river canyon: campfires”

  1. Why is overnight parking allowed at the Edwards and Purdon crossing sites? This type of access is just begging for campers to head down to the river and start campfires and leave trash. These sites are overused and in my opinion abused.

  2. Who made your cellphone? Because I’ve never seen one that worked without data signal to determine your location. I have a shiny, new, $700 samsung smartphone, and it thinks i’m in another STATE right now due to lack of signal.

    1. Do you have a map app like Google maps? They work based on GPS, not on cell tower signals.

      1. No actually they don’t you need a cell signal for maps to work had he had his maps open prior to driving down there and had the map downloaded already then yes no problem, but your “idea” on how the maps app works is incorrect.

        1. Ridgetop, please use your real name when posting. Second, it depends on your phone and the app used. But any somewhat newish phone with a decent app does not require to preload.

  3. It isn’t just between Purdon and Edwards. We live on a ridge above Jones Bar and our nephew last year found a long-inhabited structure, campfire usage, deer frames, and over a ton of junk (hauled out by SYRCL during their cleanup), and numerous extinguished campfires, about every 10-15 feet along the Yuba below the Independence Trail on the western end. Cal Fire was out at night a month ago w/ a report of a campfire spotted down there and I have seen at least one from our house at night last year. It’s an ongoing, serious issue, and we have a hard time understanding why State Parks won’t lock the gate at the top of Jones Bar if they don’t have the manpower to patrol. So, please extend any talk of patrols to the Jones Bar Road parking area, and up and down stream from there. Thank you.

  4. I think each crossing could benefit with a Live in River Host program . I’m weekly having a situation where private property owners and tenents think its safe to have a fire? Please alert and awaken one another that the calm of NO FIres , is a mindful prayer to the whole Northwest, Not just my immediate judgment…

  5. Thank you so much for this article. I see evidence of campfires as well dangerous parking blocking emergency vehicle access multiple times a week near Purdon Crossing and, clearly, it happens elsewhere on the river as well. We need solutions.

  6. Ditto the “Why allow overnight parking?” There is parking in the South Yuba Campground 1.5 miles above Edwards. I reported a roaring campfire 2 days ago 100yds upstream of the bridge! Better signage is needed. Tougher enforcement of no camping regs. The fire today probably cost at least a year’s worth of patrolling.

    There seems to be higher law enforcement prescence, especially from the State Park.

  7. There have been overnight campers with tents and fires at jones bar on July 30 and 31 ( seen in the morning
    No signage re fire Prohibition. I agree with closing the gate during high fire danger

  8. I’m not a huge drone fan, especially drones that get in the way of emergency providers. They should look into the use of drones to sniff out campfires.

  9. Dear Yuba Net,

    You’ve started a useful discussion and public alert. Do you have time for a full-scale investigation of what the overall situation is from Bridgeport to Edwards – clearly there are lots of observations of illegal camping and fires – and possible agency solutions? Thank you very much.

    Carol again

    1. It appears a more in-depth story is in order, yes. That’s part of our job 🙂

  10. Thank you for your loving care of the river. I live in the Bat Area and have been going to the Yuba for day trips for close to 20 years. My friends and I are exceedingly careful to never leave a shred of garbage behind, we never bring dogs, never ignite fires, never pollute the water, never bring glass containers or alcohol, never feed the wildlife. We pick up any garbage we encounter, park on designated spots and are cortageous with everyone we encounter. It breaks my heart to read about the carelessness of other visitors and hope we can help raise awareness to preserve the natural integrity of this lovely corner of planet

  11. Pascale and neighbors,

    There is a dangerous problem occurring at Edwards crossing. Any given weekend there are 150-200 cars of river goers. They park from the hairpin turn on the paved side, up to the water trough on the dirt side of the bridge on North Bloomfield rd. A few years ago the neighbors met with the county road officials to discuss the problem. It was becoming increasingly difficult to pass through. “No parking signs” were put up so that passage through could be maintained. River goers actively ignore these signs. Any given weekend and frequently during the week cars will be parked in such a way that Emergency vehicles, trucks and sometimes passenger cars cannot get through. Sometimes I will see tickets on cars. So far to my knowledge no one has been towed. The no parking signs are haphazardly enforced. Neighbors frequently ask people to respect the no parking signs are often met with belligerence. Neighbors often call dispatch to report bad parking that restricts access and seem to be met with annoyance.

    Edwards crossing is on North Bloomfield road. It eventually ends up near Bowman Lake. It connects to GrizzlyHill road, North Columbia, the town of North Bloomfield, Graniteville, and even Cruzon grade. North Bloomfield road is the main thoroughfare to town for many people, both residential and recreational. The immediate area above Edward has homes, campgrounds, Malakoff Diggins, and miles of trails. It is used by hikers, bicyclists, and sadly, atv users.

    The problems of overuse of Edwards are many. Paramount, is restricted access for emergency vehicles. Secondly, folks linger on bridge and in road, and treat the public road as a pedestrian pathway. Thirdly, I often I see several cars on the four ton limit bridge… We also see overnight use and campfires. Neighbors have squelched fires and chided campers. Then of course there is the added pollution, threat to aquatic life, compacted earth, dog poop and more.

    There needs to be active and aggressive enforcement. Maybe after the events of this last week the state, BLM, sheriff, county road department, CHP and even the media will become more actively involved.

  12. Why is overnight parking allowed if no overnight camping is allowed period? The most dangerous place for a fire to start is at the bottom of these Canyons. There should never be overnight parking or camping allowed these days.

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