Action needed - Fremont Weir State Wildlife Area access issue

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Andrew Fulks

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Mar 28, 2016, 12:38:22 AM3/28/16
to Yolohikers
Fellow hikers, birdwatchers, hunters, bikers, and outdoors enthusiasts,

Imagine the reaction if the public was suddenly locked out of the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area, or you went to the American River Parkway, only to see a 'No Trespassing' sign....For a year now, a private landowner has been blocking access to the Fremont Weir State Wildlife Area, (http://tuleyome.org/index.php/fremont-weir-state-wildlife-area) first by intimidation, and now by a gate across a publicly-funded levee, blocking a publicly-funded and maintained parking lot, that the public had been using for decades until last year.  The public has effectively been blocked from access to the west side of the 1,400-acre public wildlife area.
The issue is complex, and those who want to learn more can see an article link below.

We are working to fix this access problem, by appealing to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors to take the lead on the public's behalf to get a western access restored to our public lands.

On April 5th, the Yolo Board of Supervisors (BOS) will be getting a staff update on the access situation.  We are asking for emails to the Board of Supervisors, asking them to act on the citizen's behalf to restore access.  Please forward this information on to other users you may know, that want the access back.  The more letters, the better, in particular people from Woodland or West Sacramento.  
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Actions we want:

April 5th, the Yolo BOS will get a staff update on the Fremont Weir.  We want the Yolo BOS to do the following:

1.  Take the lead in working to re-open the west side access to the state wildlife area.
2.  Work on getting the State to act to re-open access.  Set a timeline for State action.
3.  If the State is unwilling or unsuccessful in getting resolution, the County needs to take direct action.
4.  That action could include condemnation of the road and the previously-public parking area, or alternatively, asserting an existing County right of way on Road 16 (which hugs the oxbow south of the old parking area), over the west-side levee, and working with CDFW and DWR on a new gravel lot within the bypass.

What we need:

1. People to contact the BOS individually, to express support for the BOS taking the lead on getting a west-side access re-opened.
2.  Send an email supporting the BOS taking the lead, and swift resolution of the issue of west-side access, to both the BOS as well as to clerkof...@yolocounty.org so the email is included in the Board packet.  You can find your board member's contact at their webpage at http://www.yolocounty.org/general-government/board-of-supervisors.

3.  Attend the April 5th BOS meeting in Woodland, 625 Court Street, Board Chambers, 9am, to express support for the BOS taking the lead on the citizen's behalf in re-establishing access to the State Wildlife Area.
4.  Contact Board of Supervisors that you know personally, contact friends that use the wildlife area (dog walkers, hunters, birdwatchers, hikers), and have them attend the April 5th meeting and write emails to the clerk of the board at the address above.

Background:
This article at the link below has all the background on the complexity of the issue.  The short version when communicating to the County is that an error was made when the property that provided access was sold. The public has been using the access for decades to get to the 1,400-acre wildlife area, the parking lot and all the signs and fences were paid for by the public, and that this access is a critical part of the quality of life for County residents, in particular Woodland, but also Davis and West Sacramento.  In addition, the eastern access is insufficient in terms of proximity and feasibility of both parking and road condition.  The east side is an important access, but we must have the western access re-opened.

Recently, cars that were parked outside the new (publicly-funded) gate that prevents access to the old parking area have been vandalized.  We have three reports to the County so far, plus one additional report we have heard about.  

The public, through virtue of decades of use, likely have a prescriptive right to use this access.  However, that right is difficult and costly to perfect.  Condemnation or an alternative access on Road 16 south of the oxbow, are the only viable alternatives to regain public access to public lands.  Help get your access restored!
Please write the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, before April 1st!
 
Andrew Fulks
President, Tuleyome
Protecting the wild heritage and agricultural heritage of the Northern Inner Coast Range and the Western Sacramento Valley for existing and future generations.
Visit the Yolohiker web site for trail maps, hikes, and outings in the Putah and Cache creek watersheds.
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