The Placer County Planning Commission welcomed comments from the public Thursday evening regarding the Hidden Falls Regional Park Trails Expansion project.
No decisions were made during the meeting. Lisa Carnahan, senior planner for the Placer County Department of Public Works, Parks Division, shared a brief overview of the project’s aspects and history.
According to Carnahan, the county has a conditional use permit for the existing Hidden Falls Regional Park and will be requesting a modification of the use permit to expand to the trail system. In addition to adding parking and expanding the trail network from 30 miles to 60 miles, the project would also add supporting facilities such as fencing, emergency and maintenance access roads, bathrooms, picnic areas, wells, viewing platforms, drinking fountains, benches, kiosks and signage, equestrian amenities, bridges and stream crossing and animal-proof trash and recycle receptacles.
Carnahan also shared how the county has mitigated some community concerns received before the meeting, including increased traffic and traffic safety, land use and fire safety.
A traffic analysis showed local roadways have the capacity to safely handle the additional traffic generated by the expansion project, Carnahan said. Cramer Road showed a safety impact, however, the installation and upgrade of traffic control devices would reduce the impact to less than significant. Additionally, safety impact at the Twilight Ride entrance would be mitigated through a tapered entrance and a left-turn lane. Carnahan also said Caltrans’ project to add roundabouts on Lone Star and Lorenson roads and a center median would lessen the anticipated traffic and collisions on Cramer Road.
According to Carnahan, there will be no change in the zoning, and it will remain as farm zoning with the project. Cattle ranching and grazing will also continue.
“Ever since the western portion of Hidden Falls was opened in 2013, we had cattle out there with people and haven’t had any problems out there,” Carnahan said. “We want to work with the ranchers and come up with great solutions so that both the public and the cattle ranchers can work together out there.”
The county has spent more than $2 million to reduce fire risks at the regional park. According to Carnahan, three landing zones for helicopters, 120 acres of shaded fuel breaks and a 12,000-gallon water tank with a fire hydrant are in the park to mitigate fire risks.
“We are very happy to say that since 2006 when the park originally opened, we’ve never had a fire started by the patrons,” Carnahan said. “While we’re not resting on our laurels, by any means, we continue to look at fire very seriously.”
Carnahan said the county will also look at implementing park closures during extreme fire weather days this summer. Additionally, the county has been working with Placer County Fire and Cal Fire for the new areas to ensure each parking area would have a helicopter landing zone, a 12,000-gallon water tank and fire turnarounds.
Following Carnahan’s presentation, the planning commission listened to comments provided by the public. At least 43 reservations to comment had been made by the time the meeting started, and many were against the expansion.
Comments ranged from supporting or opposing the project, requesting the commission to reconsider mitigation approaches for traffic, habitat and agricultural impacts or asking the commission to consider the approval of e-bike use within the regional park.
“Our members fully support the overall findings of the DSEIR as being less than significant, including wildfire, and support ... the Hidden Falls Trails Expansion, including 30 miles of trails, three additional parking areas and other park amenities as proposed,” Jeff Foltz, member of the Gold Country Trails Council, said.
“My concerns about the Hidden Falls Expansion are that any money spent there takes away from other parts of Placer County,” Linda Adams, a Roseville resident, said. “I know here in Roseville and in Granite Bay especially, there are parks and recreation areas that have been promised for years and nothing has come of those so I’m very concerned about a large amount of funds going to one project. ... Another concern is that we do not know the cost of the Hidden Falls Expansion. It would be nice to know what the cost of that project will run so we know how much will be taken away from other Placer County projects.”
The public comment period lasted more than two hours, allowing community members to call in to share input regarding the expansion project.
“Holding an evening session, I think, was really valuable for the comments,” Nathan Herzog, planning commission member, said. “We heard the public, we heard the issues that were shared today. We appreciate your involvement and participation, and want to make every effort so that you get a voice here.”
Public comment regarding the project will continue to be accepted until 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 20. After comments have been received, commenters will receive a formal response to their comments through a CD copy or a link to the final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report.
There will be municipal advisory meetings, as the public health directive regarding COVID-19 allows, during the summer and fall, followed by a Parks Commission meeting, according to Carnahan. The project will then be presented to the Board of Supervisors in the fall.
To see the complete original article in the Gold Country Media, CLICK HERE.