What will happen with the seven miles of Bear River purchased by NID for the dam, now that the dam is dead?

Convert the seven miles of dam lands that NID owns to a Open Space. The publicly owned lands now need to be repurposed.

The land transfers from NID must support ecosystem values like: 

  • Green Space that enriches riparian and forest health,
  • Fire ecosystem management, 
  • Fisheries and wildlife habitat,
  • Watershed ecological education, and 
  • Scenic and recreational values that enrich our highest and best social, economic and environmental values. 

Our communities will prosper built on those principles. 

Below is the map showing the near term opportunity to expand our public land access in the heart of our foothill community. The map shows the dam lands, with an expanded explanation of future options. 

Bear River - Rollins Reservoir to Combie

The map shows the seven miles of river at stake, from Rollins Reservoir to Combie Reservoir. The Bear River Fishing Access (formerly Bear River Campground) is at the heart of this river reach. Accessible 6 minutes off Interstate 80 by either Milk Ranch Road from Colfax or Plum Tree Road from the Canyon Way exit, this park has been operated for decades by Placer County and is much used and loved by thousands of people from Placer and beyond every year.

Downstream of Bear River Public Access is Dog Bar Bridge, which has been a favorite recreational destination accessible from Weimar/Applegate/Meadow Vista and Lake of the Pines (LOP) on the Nevada County side. Decades ago there was even a campground on Dog Bar. The reach of river between the park and Dog Bar bridge is a favorite of kayakers, rafters and inner tubers every spring and early summer, as it is a gentle yet thrilling float through gorgeous Bear River canyonlands (photo at top of this page is taken just upstream of the Dog Bar Bridge).

Even further downstream, the river is can be reached on Combie Road from Meadow Vista or Rutherford Road from LOP via Magnolia on the Nevada County side. Unfortunately, NID and the Teichert quarry operations have prevented access to this part of the river. And the Peaceful Valley road access is likewise blocked by private owners and NID.

Way upstream above Bear River park and below Hwy 174 is the historic Ben Taylor crossing, which was the old stage crossing from Grass Valley/Nevada City to the railroad in Colfax. NID now owns the old Hansen quarry on the Nevada County side at the end of Dog Bar Road, but that access is blocked by NID. And the access from Ben Taylor Road on the Placer County side is likewise blocked by NID and private ownership.

Imagine for a moment if this seven miles was managed for scenic, recreational and wildlife benefits, with ready access all along the way. What are the benefits to the community, to the river and to the earth, if these lands remained in public ownership and were managed for social, economic, and environmental values? Are you ready? Let’s do this together!

And, if you want to really dream big, the future of the Bear River is NOT just about the future of the NID post-Centennial Dam property disposition or the Bear River Campground future. Relax, sit back, and take a tour of what the possible futures are for the whole Bear River watershed. Visit BearPARC’s Future Vision page.