New trail looks to connect ‘Lost’ Sierra
The Truckee and Lake Tahoe areas are linked to the history of the greater Sierra Nevada by hundreds of old trails and paths used by early miners, loggers and mail carriers.
That history will be made more available in the future as the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship inches closer to its ambitious plan of connecting 15 northern Sierra towns via a multi-use trail system.
“This is an economic driver,” said Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship Marketing and Strategic Business Consultant Mark Pecotich. “Trails are really a tool for economic resiliency in these communities. There are so many amazing places and so many really neat things to see out there.”
Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is in the early stages of a 10-year process to build the Connected Communities Project, roughly 600 miles of multi-use trails with the aim of linking towns like Greenville, Quincy, Portola, and Truckee with one another. The connection would allow for all dirt travelers, including hikers, mountain bikers, moto riders, equestrians, hunters, and fishermen.
Pecotich said plans also involve programs to drive trail users toward communities’ downtown areas in order to help provide an economic benefit, especially for areas of the “Lost” Sierra impacted by wildfire.
Near Truckee, work is getting underway to build a connection to Loyalton. The “East Zone” of the project consists of roughly 73 miles. The Truckee part of the route will be 10.3 miles in the “East Zone” and will head out toward Boca and Stampede reservoirs.
“Out in the Boca, Stampede area there’s a lot of social trails out there that have just kind of appeared over time,” said Pecotich. “We’re going to decommission some of those things because of erosion issues, watershed protection, and things of that nature. They’re just not built well.”
Pecotich said trail builders and volunteers will begin by walking paths in order to identify watershed concerns, historical sites, and other potential environmental issues.
“This is all boots on the ground, laying out the route of these different segments to connect all these towns,” he said.
A main difference between the 600 miles of trail that will connect Sierra communities between other large trails like the Pacific Crest Trail is the allowance of off-highway vehicles. Pecotich said grants for off-highway travel have been key in getting the project underway.
“We want everybody to be able to enjoy it, but those grant opportunities and OHV funds are pretty important to the success of this program,” he said.
While different segments of users have often clashed in the backcountry, Pecotich said an overwhelming amount of groups and organizations have come together in support of the project.
“We have all these different user types that have all come forward and say we support this,” he said. “It’s remarkable to see how many different organizations, such a broad spectrum, have offered these letters of support for this project because everyone seems to value what we’re trying to do.”
Partners include Sierra Nevada Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, Truckee Donner Land Trust and dozens of others.
“We’re trying to rally folks,” added Pecotich. “There are a number of different trail organizations and volunteer groups that are interested in helping us out. So, we’re trying to get everyone mobilized and get started on this segment of it.”
Cost related to building the trail this year is estimated to be $450,000 and would mostly cover environmental work. Connections between Quincy and Taylorsville will be worked on this summer as well.
Additionally, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is working with communities to create recreation zones, which are intended to be stack-looped systems in communities for non-motorized travel.
“There’s the big 600-mile route, but as part of the planning we’re also being considerate of these local trail systems that these communities have asked for that they want to be non-motorized,” said Pecotich.
The 600-mile route will take users through historic areas.
“We’re going to use those footprints when possible,” said Pecotich. “You’re going to see these amazing old mining sites, and these relics and artifacts that exist out there.”
Pecotich also stressed the importance of leaving cultural heritage sites and artifacts undisturbed, and added that community involvement will be key in the creation of the new trail.
“We would just love people’s support at this point,” he said. “We’ve got events set up, weekend dig days, and so we’ll definitely want to have people from the community out there working side by side with us.”
To donate or volunteer, visit sierratrails.org. The organization will also host its annual Lost and Found Gravel Grinder bike ride on June 4.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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