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Hikers, bicyclists upset over Granite Bay parking closure

Twin Rocks, Boulder Road barricade to block free access to Folsom Lake SRA
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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A group of outdoor recreation enthusiasts is upset over a barricade that will block one of the last remaining parking areas that provides free access to Folsom Lake State Recreation Area in Granite Bay. According to Ted Jackson, representative of California State Parks Gold Fields District, construction is expected to begin next month on a steel guard rail at the corner of Twin Rocks and Boulder roads. The cost of what Jackson describes as a “relatively small project” is estimated around $20,000, according to a statement released by California State Parks. Bill Rose, a Loomis resident, gathered more than 600 signatures on a petition to protest the barricade in an attempt to facilitate some kind of public discussion on the issue. “The petition simply was to see if I could force state parks to hold a forum where we could look for some other solution, some kind of compromise or negotiation,” Rose said. Rose is one of many outdoor enthusiasts who uses the informal parking area – which is really a dirt shoulder on the side of the roadway – regularly to access the trails in the park for mountain biking, running, hiking and horseback riding. According to Jackson, the decision to barricade the road shoulder came after several complaints from homeowners in the area about impacts from people, mostly bicyclists and equestrians, which include speeding on the narrow road, congestion, excessive noise, litter and public urination. “The area in question was never intended to be a free parking and staging area for the park and there are no facilities located in this area to support the increased level of activity and use,” Jackson said. Loomis resident George Palma has been using the Twin Rocks access point with his family for several years and signed Rose’s petition to stop the barricade. “I am not sure what the motivation is for the Twin Rocks closure,” Palma said. “If it is to force park users to pay a fee, then why not place a kiosk and collect fees? If the problem is with the local property owners’ complaints, a few enforcement efforts would probably have the desired effect. To eliminate such a wonderful resource to satisfy the demands of a handful of property owners seems to be overkill.” Jackson said the bottom line is the guard rail project will prevent parking at the location, but access to the park by pedestrian, horse or bike at that site will still be possible. “I certainly understand park users’ concerns over losing what has unintentionally become a free access point to Folsom Lake,” Jackson said. “However, in these difficult times, I would hope avid park users would rally around the idea of paying appropriate fees for the use of their state parks.” The state park system is under increased pressure to rely on park user support since the recent failure of Proposition 21, Jackson said, and Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to release a list of state parks later this year that will be closed or placed in caretaker status due to the current state fiscal crisis. Rose said he feels State Parks is merely reacting to a few special interest groups whose complaints are largely unsubstantiated and exaggerated. He said that while he has witnessed an increase of illegal trail building on the property, much of the blame has incorrectly been pointed toward the mountain bike community. “Ninety-nine percent of the guys that ride bikes go out there to get their workout in after they’re done with work and go home to their families,” Rose said. “You don’t normally carry a shovel or rake and the tools to construct trails with you.” Rose said he and those who signed his petition feel State Parks should hold a public review and mitigation period to allow the opportunity for public input on this issue. “Where’s my opportunity as a tax-paying citizen to get in and find a way to negotiate or come up with a solution that everybody can live with and is fair?” he said. Jackson said State Parks garnered enough support for the project after meeting with local homeowners, groups associated with the mountain bike community, hiking and equestrian groups and people that use the area. “Whether or not we would hold a public forum to discuss it is at our discretion and we chose to meet with key stakeholder groups, which we felt kind of accomplished the same thing,” Jackson said. Jackson said the project is supported by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Placer County Department of Public Works, South Placer Fire District, Lakeview Hills Homeowner’s Association, Folsom Lake Mounted Assistance Trail Patrol and Loomis Basin Horseman’s Association. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com