"How do you lose a 50-mile national recreation trail of such high regional and national value that in 1975 the Placer County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution acknowledging the trail’s national significance and endorsed the proposed federal designation? How do you lose a trail that the Bureau of Reclamation, even during its headlong rush to build the Auburn dam, made provisions to preserve the continuous trail in the proposed dam area by supporting the federal recognition and making the extra effort to locate the trail around the dam construction site? How do you lose a trail route that has been in use for the past 45 years and is heavily used to this day?
How can a 50-mile continuous national recreation trail be lost? By failure of our public land managers to place any value in it, by cryptically referring to it in bits and pieces in official documents, general plans and maps so that it lapses into bureaucratic obscurity and thus information generated for public review is incomplete, by changes in land manager personnel who have no record to draw from, by deciding that it is inconvenient and claiming it has no recognized status and thus doesn’t exist so that new projects may be imposed on it. What was once a continuous trail now becomes broken and lost. That is what is happening to the 50 mile “Western States Pioneer Express National Recreation Trail” (WSPE NRT) from Beal’s Point to Foresthill.
This issue came up for me when it was stated that there was a gap in the trail system between the north end of the 20-mile Pioneer Express Trail (PET) (a California historic landmark No. 585 designated in 1954) in Folsom State Recreation Area and the south end of the Western States Trail (WST) located at the Auburn Staging Area in Auburn State Recreation Area. This gap is essentially the Auburn dam site area. Auburn Recreation District’s (ARD) proposed bike park is located in this gap and thus it was claimed the well-used trail that goes through the bike park had no official recognition.
This came a quite a surprise to those of us who had been enjoying the trail for many years. Especially so once the record for the trail was researched and reviewed. Thankfully, after much effort, ARD and State Parks did not cut this important section of the trail off but preserved it by shifting it away from bike park features.
The “Western States Pioneer Express National Recreation Trail” (WSPE NRT) was designated in October 1975. It is a 50-mile trail from Beal’s Point in Folsom SRA and continues through the so called gap to Auburn SRA and on to Foresthill. The Auburn Journal covered the ceremony on Dec. 12, 1975. This rare continuous trail is being lost due to bureaucratic omissions that have continued for years. It only takes small cuts to a major artery to cause significant destruction. I don’t want the potential loss of this continuous trail to happen again.
I am requesting that as part of the proposed Auburn State Recreation Area General Plan process, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) land managers for our public lands do the following:
• Identify the existence of the Western States Pioneer Express National Recreation Trail, its full name, mileage and start and stop locations in any maps, brochures and/or environmental documents and upcoming management plans.
• State Parks update the national recreation trail website, with volunteer help
• State Parks work with volunteers to further ID/decal the whole trail, and reroute it where necessary.
Right now these Bureau of Reclamation dam project lands are in limbo. If the dam gets de-authorized, the area around Auburn will be subject to numerous new uses. While the trail and new uses may not necessarily be mutually exclusive, site evaluations must honor the existence of this national recreation trail.
We can’t let planning for these new uses ignore this trail otherwise the integrity of the 50-mile Western States Pioneer Express National Recreation Trail portion of our fabulous 100-plus-mile trail system in the area will get cut up, dismissed and destroyed.
So, calling all trail enthusiasts! Please take pictures of all the WSPE NRT decals you can find and let ASRA and Bureau of Reclamation know that the proposed Auburn State Recreation General Plan must recognize the existence this trail and review it fully so it can be preserved, relocated as necessary, respected and valued once again."
Patricia Gibbs is a Loomis resident.
To see the original article and photos in the Auburn Journal, CLICK HERE.