New parking areas for cars, trucks and horse trailers, plus picnic shelters, informational kiosks, restrooms and more than 7 miles of new trails will be added along a 6-mile stretch of the Yuba River over the next two years, thanks to a grant from the California Natural Resources Agency.
The $312,217 grant was awarded to the Bear Yuba Land Trust to develop multi-use public recreation amenities for the 2,700-acre Rice’s Crossing Preserve.
“We’re thrilled to be awarded this important grant that will allow us to create public-access features that were envisioned when we acquired the property,” Marty Coleman-Hunt, the Bear Yuba Land Trust’s executive director, said in a written statement.
Rice’s Crossing Preserve, acquired by the land trust in 2014, includes the north fork and main stem of the Yuba River. It is located in both Nevada and Yuba counties, between Bullards Bar Reservoir and South Yuba State Park at Bridgeport and Englebright Reservoir.
The funding will be used to enhance outdoor recreation along the Yuba River corridor, according to a land trust news release. Activities such as mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, kayaking and birding are expected to boost the tourism economy in the region.
The project is intended to make about 1,500 acres of the preserve more available to the public for recreational use. Providing additional river access, land trust officials said, will help relieve crowding at the nearby South Yuba River State Park at Bridgeport.
In 2014, the Bear Yuba Land Trust received $3.25 million in Proposition 84 funds through the California Natural Resources Agency’s River Parkway Program, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Caltrans’ Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, to purchase the river property and permanently protect it from development.
The project will focus on the south and north public entrance points of the preserve, near and along the Yuba River. The improvements will add to the existing Yuba Rim Trail, which opened to the public in 2015. Above the confluence of the Middle Yuba River and North Yuba River, the trail offers views of snow-capped peaks in winter and a moderately challenging hike, land trust representatives said.
In April, at the southern end, French Bar at Rice’s Crossing opened to the public for the first time in nearly a century, offering opportunities to view wildlife such as bears fishing for trout, soaring eagles and otters playing in the river.