Print Page

News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 451  

Crowd attends dedication of important trail segment

A long-awaited trail along the South Fork American River is now open.

The 25-mile multi-recreational South Fork American River Trail was dedicated Sept. 30 with completion of the final 8 1/2-mile segment from Cronan Ranch to Salmon Falls.
About 70 people attended the ceremony to hear remarks by representatives of the American River Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, California Resources Agency and California Wildllife Conservation Board. (text continues below)

Smiling man and woman hold large scissors after cutting a red ribbon strung between the handrails of a bridge
Cutting the ribbon on the Acorn Creek bridge, to dedicate the trail (from left): Alan Ehrgott, American River Conservancy executive director; John P. Donnelly, California Wildlife Conservation Board executive director; Penny Humphreys, ARC Board of Director chair; and Bill Haigh, BLM Mother Lode Field Office manager; cut the ribbon on the Acorn Creek bridge to dedicate the trail.

A line of people wait to cross a footbridge
A line of expentant hikers waits for the ribbon cutting.

Alan Ehrgott, ARC executive director, said a road bulldozed down a canyon to the river 20 years ago served as a wake-up call to the need to protect the river. Since then, ARC and BLM have worked together to protect the spectacular and pristine river canyon from the impacts of subdivision and development.  The South Fork American River conservation initiative was launched in 1990 to protect native fisheries, wildlife habitat and the high quality of water flowing to Sacramento and 22 million water consumers downstream. 

A man holds a microphone and speaks at a podium
Alan Ehrgott gives the history of the trail in remarks at the dedication.
A man holds a microphone and speaks from a podium
Bill Haigh speaks of the importance of acquiring certain land to protect natural resources and provide recreation.

The new trail will help create a constituency of river lovers as hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians will be able to use the trail, he said.

Bill Haigh, BLM Mother Lode Field Office manager, said community leaders in Sacramento had the foresight 50 years ago to create the landmark Lower American River Parkway.

The population in the foothills is growing and agencies need to set aside special areas to protect resources and provide recreation.

“Fifty years from now, we hope this trail will be as much of a landmark as the Lower American River Parkway is to Sacramento,” he said.

Bryan Cash, deputy assistant secretary for bonds and grants, California Natural Resources Agency, said America is suffering from an epidemic of obesity and related diseases like diabetes. Providing areas for recreation and access to nature can help people improve their health and connect with the natural world, helping both psychologically and physically. Studies have found connecting with nature shifts people’s focus from self to others, he said.

The South Fork American River Trail is perched immediately above Folsom Lake and the greater Sacramento region.  The trail has three access points:  Magnolia Ranch (Coloma), Cronan Ranch (Pilot Hill) and Salmon Falls (newly built bridge at Acorn Creek in El Dorado Hills).  It is the most popular river for whitewater boating in the western United States. 
The canyon hosts 117 bird species including bald eagle and osprey as well as black bear, bobcat, river otter, rainbow trout and salmon.  The trail represents the foothills’ various healthy ecosystems including grasslands, oak woodland, chaparral and riparian habitats.  Hikers, fisherman, bird watchers, mountain bikers and equestrians will travel through pine and oak landscapes to river side and scenic overlooks of the lower South Fork American River Gorge.

Visitors stand on the bridge and look at the view down the creekbed
Visitors pause on the newly-dedicated bridge, to look at the view down the creekbed...

Hikers climb a hill among low brush
 ... and hike on up the trail.

- David Christy, BLM Central California District, 10/1/10

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 451

Last updated: 10-06-2010