Douglas County trail system stirs up controversy |

Douglas County trail system stirs up controversy

Draft trail maps in Douglas County should be scrapped and the process started over again, two Carson Valley ranchers urged parks and recreation officials.

But several Lake Tahoe Basin residents who attended the information meeting at Kahle Community Center on Wednesday night said they were pleased with the mapping so far and encouraged more work on connecting trails and trailheads to several vistas above and around the lake.

From Topaz Lake to Lake Tahoe and the Pine Nut Mountains, Carson River Valley and the Sierra Nevada, the trails plan identifies trailheads and links to provide the safest routes for outdoor off-road opportunities.

County officials reiterated at the public meeting that the initial trail map proposal is merely a wish list drawn up by several people who attended at a handful of meetings and by trail interest groups.

Mimi Moss, county planning and economic development manager, called the proposed trails plan “a dream map” where citizens last year were asked to put known trails on the map, regardless of property lines.

South Shore resident Charles Nelson told the recreation commission that he wants to see more, not fewer trails in the Tahoe region and Carson Valley, including along both forks of the Carson River.

“At least get it on the master plan,” Nelson said.

Identified are trails that run from Stateline to Glenbrook and Zephyr Cove. Some of the access, especially near Glenbrook, runs through private property.

“There’re existing trails from Glenbrook to Spooner, but you run into a fence,” said Nelson, an avid Tahoe hiker.

Others, like recreation commissioners Doug Smith and Dave Brady, said there are some Tahoe trails they know about that didn’t make the map.

Trail advocate Mary Bennington said involvement of the Lake Tahoe trail systems was minimal, but there was enough input from known users to map out some existing trails.

Proposed trails along the Carson River as well as trails that go through private property have become a point of contention among ranchers and property owners who have spoken vehemently against the county’s effort to map trails.

The idea is to gather public input on the proposed lines and debate which ones are worthwhile and which should be scrapped, Moss said.

“I’d like to commend Douglas County for this. The philosophy behind it is great,” South Shore resident Dave Hamilton said.

Skeptics to the plan argued that the county ought to start over again.

Carson Valley resident J.B. Lekumberry called the plan “a magic brush” that spreads out over more than 400 pieces of private property. He argued the county should scrap the “dream map” start over and sketch out maps that don’t go through private property.

Carson Valley ranchers Kathy and Doug Hone concurred, adding they do see where there is room for compromise, but that trails advocates and ranchers need to work together.

A trail system down the Carson River, would not be wise because of the potential for flooding, Doug Hone said.

“When the east fork jumps the west fork (as it did in the 1997 flood) there wouldn’t be a trail left,” Hone said. “We just need to figure out what is doable and come up with some compromises.”

Bennington, who spoke on behalf of the Washoe tribe, said the tribe is opposed to any hard surfaces that would interfere with irrigation or would restrict the river’s natural course.

The Douglas County Planning Commission will host a public hearing and workshop on the trails plan at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the county administration building, 1616 8th St. in Minden.

— Jeff Munson can be reached at

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