Public meetings allow residents to have their say on trailhead | RecordCourier.com

Public meetings allow residents to have their say on trailhead

by Merrie Leininger

Critics and supporters of the Luther Canyon trailhead project will have their say during the next couple of weeks in a series of public meetings.

The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are holding “public scoping” meetings to get public comment for environmental assessment reports.

The trailhead, which is off Foothill Road near the California border, is the only access to federal land between the border and Carson City.

The two acres of land were purchased from Chuck Paya with $57,000 raised by the American Land Conservancy and $40,000 from the Forest Service. The trailhead accesses miles of horse and walking trails on Job’s Peak.

Ame Hellman of the American Land Conservancy said the hikers and riders have been parking off Foothill Road and walking and leading horses across the road to the trail.

“We got a grant to start building a trailhead because there were some concerns about parking trailers across the street,” Hellman said.

The National Recreation Trails Act Grant provided $8,300 for the construction, but between $5,000-$8,000 more is needed, she said. She said many people have already approached her about donating their equipment and time to help build the trailhead.

Mike McQueen, a planner for the BLM, said the meetings have to be held before construction can start on what will essentially be a parking lot and a few informational kiosks.

“Some people look at it as an asset, some people look at it as a detriment,” McQueen said. “The controversy there is land owners are concerned with the proximity of trails to their houses and the public use of those trails. The intent of the meetings is to give people an opportunity to express their concerns about construction of the trailhead and also to let those who support this to express those feelings.”

Hellman said she believes people who in the past were not in favor of the transfer of the land, have changed their minds.

“Since the acquisition, people are starting to feel it’s a good thing,” she said. “I’ve done some research and found that neighboring property increases in value from 20 to 40 percent if it is next to a forest or trails.”

Debbi Posnien, who lives with her husband Kim right next door to the trailhead, said they originally had concerns about the land being overtaken by people and animals who wouldn’t respect it.

“We were very upset because we were afraid of what was going to happen,” Posnien said. “It hasn’t been bad. People are really enjoying it – they are bringing dogs and horses and hiking – and we’re not against that at all. We just want people to enjoy it, but not ruin it.”

The Posniens were also concerned about people destroying the plant life, littering and increased fire danger.

“There are also Indian graves at the top of the mountain and we worried about respect being taken away from them with people just stepping over them, and that has happened,” she said. “That’s history. That’s Gardnerville from the very beginning.”

Forest Service representatives were not available for comment.

The meetings are planned for Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the Genoa Town Hall from 4 p.m.-8 p.m., and Tuesday, March 2 at Carson Valley Middle School from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.