A master plan for Deer Creek Hills Preserve, near Rancho Murieta, is under consideration by the Board of Supervisors. The 4,000-acre property is owned by the county, the state and the nonprofit Sacramento Valley Conservancy.

Sacramento supervisors delay action on Deer Creek Hills Preserve

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2011 - 6:57 am

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors held off on a development plan for a 4,000-acre nature preserve just north of Rancho Murieta because of concerns about traffic.

Some neighbors of the Deer Creek Hills Preserve are worried about the possibility of closing Latrobe Road, which leads into the property. Some neighbors are also worried about hikers, equestrians and other park users disturbing their property, despite the park's 300-foot buffer zone.

The board was asked Tuesday to approve the master plan for the property owned by the county, the state and the Sacramento Valley Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that manages the property.

Government agencies and the conservancy bought the property nearly 10 years ago for more than $11 million. The conservancy has been operating the preserve for several years, allowing the public to use it for hiking, horse riding and mountain biking.

County officials call the land pristine, with rolling hills and oak forests. Cattle have grazed the land for years – and continue to do so under an agreement with a rancher who helps fund management of the preserve.

The conservancy allows visitors only when volunteers are able to accompany them. About 1,300 people have used the preserve this year.

The conservancy's executive director, Aimee Rutledge, said she would like more people to be able to use the preserve.

The master plan calls for more trails, along with picnic and camping facilities.

Supervisor Don Nottoli cited opposition to the possibility of closing part of Latrobe Road, including complaints about the proposal from the Consumes Community Planning Advisory Committee.

The master plan says road closure is only a possibility in the future.

Rutledge said it might need to be considered because a lot of people drive into the preserve and leave trash, shoot guns and create other problems.

"Pretty much everything but dead bodies has been dumped up there," she said.

County officials will meet with Rutledge to address how any future proposal to close Latrobe Road might be addressed, as well as how to address any future complaints that neighbors might have about activity on the preserve. Supervisors expect to take up the issue again Oct. 25.

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