Alpine organization sues to open trail to Pleasant Valley
July 13, 2010
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A lawsuit challenging private landowners’ barring of access to Alpine County’s Pleasant Valley has been filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of the Friends of Hope Valley.
Claiming that the valley south of Grover Hot Springs was a public access point before landowners gated it in 1999, attorneys for the group have filed to have the trail reopened.
“This case represents a clear violation of the public’s right to have access to trails where there is a long history of use by the public,” said attorney Matthew Zinn of the San Francisco law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger. The law firm of Kerr & Wagstaffe has also been engaged by the Friends of Hope Valley.
The group is seeking past trail users to appear as witnesses in the case.
The Friends of Hope Valley said they worked to persuade the Dressler family to voluntarily reopen access to the Pleasant Valley trails for public use, but despite years of attempts to find a resolution, this gateway to public lands remains closed.
According to Zinn, any land in California that was open to public access for five continuous years before 1972, can’t be closed to the public.
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“The public’s right to access public trails, even where they pass through otherwise private land, is firmly established in California state law,” he said. “There is ample evidence demonstrating many decades of public use of the trails, according to the Friends of Hope Valley.”