A major volunteer trail work day is scheduled for this Saturday, May 7, at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. You might call it Don’t Tread on the Salmon Day.
Let me explain.
The Clear Creek Canal Trail runs for more than four miles roughly parallel to Paige Bar Road from just below Clair Hill Whiskeytown Dam to Horse Camp. Because the trail mostly follows an old water ditch, it has a very slight, imperceptible grade – with one major exception. At Orofino Gulch, the trail plunges sharply downhill to Orofino Creek and then back up.
This short section is known not-so-fondly as The Ditch of Death and has eroded badly. In the 15 years that I’ve been a regular user, I’ve seen the combination of use and rain carve the trail two to four feet into the hillsides. All of that soil washed into Orofino Creek, which flows into Clear Creek. Numerous agencies have poured a ton of money and effort into reviving Clear Creek’s salmon and steelhead fishery, and the fish have returned. However, fine sediment can choke a stream and harm spawning grounds.
So Whiskeytown park officials with major assistance from you, dear hiker-mountain biker-trail runner-horseback rider-nature lover, intend to reroute Clear Creek Canal Trail around the Ditch of Death in order to decrease erosion and let the old trail heal.
The new route will be roughly 400 yards long and will snake down to the creek more gently. Bob Boecking, who heads the Redding Mountain Bike club and works on the Whiskeytown crew, has heard from fellow mountain bikers who don’t want to see the trail moved. Advanced riders enjoy the challenge presented by the Ditch of Death’s steep slope, ruts, rocks and roots.
However, Boecking noted, most mountain bikers (including yours truly) have to dismount, as do many horse riders, because the trail is simply too treacherous. Yet the trail is part of the courses for the Lemurian and Whiskeytown Classic mountain bike races, the Whiskeytown Off-Road Duathlon, and the Whiskeytown Chaser endurance horse ride.
“The planned route is going to be a lot more fun to ride than the trail is now,” Boecking said. He likens the project to the one a few years ago that rerouted the Rich Gulch Trail at the infamous “chimney” above Upper Brandy Creek Trail. Mountain bikers called that ride The Chimney (they still do) because shooting down that steep section that had eroded deeply into the hillside was just like dropping down a chimney. However, just about everyone loves the rerouted trail because it’s more fun to traverse and much prettier.
The park’s crew has already cleared the poison oak and other brush at the location of the Clear Creek Canal Trail’s new route. Now, the park is looking for about 100 volunteers to put in the actual trail tread.
Volunteers should plan to arrive at the NEED camp on Paige Bar Road by 8 a.m. on Saturday for coffee, doughnut and a quick training session before heading out for about a half day’s worth of work. Barbecued burgers and dogs will be waiting afterward. You don’t need to register in advance, and you don’t need any special equipment other than work gloves and sturdy shoes. Sunscreen, bug juice and a full water bottle are good ideas. To learn more, call the park headquarters at (530) 242-3400.
• Speaking of Whiskeytown … You might see smoke rising from the eastern edge of the park starting today, May 4, as crews are scheduled to resume prescribed burning east of the park headquarters and in the vicinity of Buck Hollow Trail. That trail and the Salt Creek Loop trail will be closed and traffic might be controlled along Mule Town Road during burning. The fires are intended to improve fire safety by clearing dense pockets of brush and stands of small-diameter trees, according to park Superintended Jim Milestone.
• Getting noticed … The Redding area’s “living streets” movement received nice attention in Streetsblog San Francisco, a popular online news source for alternative transportation advocates and wonks. I must warn you, I was quoted in the story. (I should also note that my comments about downtown were from several years ago. Remember, one of my New Year’s resolutions was not to knock downtown Redding, a resolution I have mostly kept.)
• Lassen access … Highway 89 from Lassen Volcanic National Park’s north entrance is now open for 10 miles to the Devastated Area, where snow remains 6 to 8 feet deep. It will likely be several weeks before the road is open all the way through the park. A late April snow survey found 18.5 feet of snow at Lake Helen, near the pass.
• Ah, youth … Live music, free food, prizes. Kids get all the best stuff, don’t they? YouthFest ’11 is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, May 7, at Library Park in Downtown Redding. Produced by Shasta Union High School District and Hip Shasta, the annual event seeks to promote health and wellness among young people, and to encourage them to participate in community activities. Jennifer Richard at Hip Shasta has details, (530) 225-8528.
• More than an ear … Shasta County Suicide Prevention and Intervention is beginning a training class on Tuesday, May 10, for crisis phone line volunteers. The class runs for four weeks, 5:30 to 8 p.m., on Tuesday and Thursdays. Volunteers will learn to serve as nonjudgmental, unbiased listeners who provide emotional support and referrals to callers in need. To learn more, contact the agency through its website, http://helpshasta.org.
• Hill Country wellness … Shasta County is taking its Healthier Living program for people with chronic medical conditions to Hill Country Health and Wellness Clinic in Round Mountain on six consecutive Tuesdays starting May 10. The program is aimed at helping people manage diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, chronic pain and other conditions. The program is fee. To learn more or to register, call the clinic at (530) 337-6243, ext. 642.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and will work for doughnuts. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at email@example.com.
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