Those of us who live in the West, especially the rural West, tend to take public lands for granted. It seems we have easy access to endless tracts of public land for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, gold panning, rock climbing, mountain biking, birding, four-wheeling or whatever we want to do. Even our big cities are located near gigantic national parks and recreation areas, national forests, state and regional parks and other public lands. Easy access to varied public lands is the reason that many of us choose to live in far Northern California.
Things are different in the eastern half of the United States, where the vast majority of land is privately owned. It’s not that there are no trails or rivers or campgrounds or mountains to climb. There are. But those things may not be so close by or they might lie on private property with limited access. With a few exceptions, the public landscapes of the Midwest, South and East seldom offer the wide open spaces we Westerners enjoy.
All of which is my way of introducing Public Lands Day, which is officially scheduled for this Saturday, September 25. Organizations and government agencies plan to celebrate the day in a number of ways, most of them focused on improving our public lands.
The National Park Service and Friends of Whiskeytown are having the 18th annual “pick up lake litter day” at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. After picking up trash in the morning, volunteers may enjoy a barbecue lunch at Brandy Creek Marina. Volunteers should bring gloves and a water bottle, and register in front of the visitor center at Highway 299 and Kennedy Memorial Drive between 8:30 and 10 a.m. You might also want to stop into the visitors center at some point Saturday, as there is a 15% off sale on bookstore items.
Shasta Land Trust is organizing a trash removal effort on two different stretches of Boulder Creek in north Redding. Again, volunteers will get a barbecue lunch – this one at Water Works Park – in exchange for a morning of cleanup. You need to register with the land trust by Thursday at (530) 241-7886.
For something completely different, head to Lassen Volcanic National Monument. The park service and concessionaire California Guest Services is hosting “Art and Wine of Lassen” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the park’s south entrance. Taste the grape provided by seven local wineries while enjoying art displays and live music.
To confuse things a bit, some agencies are having “public lands day” events next month. The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service, for example, are organizing a volunteer work day at Lake Shasta the morning of October 2. If you’d like to help with brush and weed removal along the Fisherman’s Point Trail, litter cleanup between the dam and Centimudi boat ramp and along Highway 151, and some light maintenance, you’ll need to register in advance by calling the Bureau of Reclamation at (530) 276-2037. Volunteers will get lunch and a T-shirt for their efforts.
Clear Creek Greenway will be the site of a volunteer work effort organized by the Bureau of Land Management, Western Shasta Resource Conservation District and Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve on October 9. Trail maintenance, tree planting and facilities repair are on the agenda, as is a barbecue at the end of the work day. Contact the BLM for more information, (530) 224-2100.
For a full roster of Public Lands Day events, check the website, www.publiclandsday.org.
• I just wrote in praise of our easily accessible public lands, and now I have to write about temporary road closures at Whiskeytown. Shasta Bally Road is closed until September 24. Mill Creek Road from South Shore Drive to the Boulder Creek Trail is scheduled to be closed 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from September 27 through October 6. South Fork Mountain Road is scheduled for closure 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from October 6 through October 15. The closures will accommodate road grading and resurfacing work.
• Much more seriously, a silent vigil in honor of soldiers lost to suicide has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22, on the Diestelhorst Bridge in Redding. Two weeks ago, a thunderstorm forced cancellation of the event. The organizers, Redding Friends Meeting, hope the event raises public awareness of the very high suicide rate among military veterans.
• The 90th Tehama District Fair kicks off at 2 p.m. on Thursday, September 23. One of the first events is swine judging, which you’ve got to see at least once. The fair runs daily through September 26. Check the website for the full schedule, www.tehamadistrictfair.com.
• The City of Redding Public Works Department is making itself available to nonprofit organizations, service clubs and other groups for presentations about major infrastructure projects. If you would like to learn more about transportation projects, bridge construction, wastewater treatment and such, contact the department at (530) 225-4170.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and always packs out what he packs in. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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