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San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust
Nonprofit Organization 501(C)(3)
Tax ID # 33-0700417                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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Nature Park on the Drawing Board

Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:34 am

The dreams of turning a portion of the failed Eagle Ridge development on Grass Valley Road into a nature park drew one step closer to fruition with the drawing up of a conceptual plan.

The San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust engaged landscape architect Scott Peterson to work on a conceptual design. Peterson and Peter Jorris, executive director of the Land Trust, presented this initial plan to the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District board for its consideration at the June meeting.

The two entities had entered into a memorandum of understanding to create a wildland nature park on the property, which the Land Trust had acquired following the development’s failure.

The first order of business, Jorris told the Rec and Park board, “is to reclaim the area in a way that will contain erosion. We look forward to utilizing the area for recreation under the auspices of Rec and Park.”

As Peterson took the board and General Manager Karen Reams through the drawing he had created, he noted “this is an informal discussion.” He and Jorris wanted to give the Rec and Park district an opportunity to offer their input on the amenities.

The asphalt road already in place at what is being called The Ridge is the “central spine of the development,” Peterson said. He noted the block wall visible from Grass Valley Road will have to stay in place to retain the hillside.

“Erosion is a big issue” on this property, Peterson noted. But he said it will be possible to remove other retaining walls that had been erected. “We will recapture the land with vegetation,” he said.

As for the other roadways throughout the acreage, Peterson said they will try to grind them down and make them more of a “human pathway.” There will be a network of trails off those.

The kiosk currently in place at the entrance is in the way, Peterson said, so his plans call for its removal. He sees instead an entry structure folks will drive under, with boulders on either side. The asphalt to the right of the entry will stay in place for parking.

The initial design calls for a dog park with separate areas for use by small and large dogs. It would be fenced in so the dogs can roam freely.

When Director Jason Bill asked about the number of acres in the dog park, the answer was 8.5 acres for large dogs and half that for the small ones.

Later in the discussion, Chair Rick Craig expressed surprise at the size of the dog park.

“The first people we heard from,” said Peterson, “were dog owners. There is nowhere in Lake Arrowhead for them to let their dogs roam.”

But the dog park plans may have to be modified, Peterson said, to allow for the wildlife corridor that exists in the area. The Land Trust got input from wildlife biologists, indicating the wildlife needs to cross Grass Valley Road to get into the continuation of their corridor.

An interpretive trail, Jorris said, would be a good addition to the park if financially feasible. “For a community within a national forest, very few people know their trees,” he said, “or the dynamics of our ecosystem.”

Jorris would like to see a loop trail established so people can get out onto the property and “get a feel of what’s there.” There is also talk of a nature center being built in the future; an existing foundation would be the logical site for it, Jorris said.

Peterson’s main concerns when he first visited the property included drainage, runoff and erosion, all of which, he said, need to be addressed.

“We can’t change the grading but we can improve it,” he said.

Jorris said they are operating under the storm water pollution prevention plan that went with the original project. “Lahontan (Regional Water Quality Control Board) has said so long as we maintain procedures, we’re OK. If we propose to disturb more than one acre—which we will—we will have to go back with a new plan.”

Peterson has already met with the county and has been assigned a planner for the nature park project. “The county loves this,” he said.

Jorris noted the Land Trust has submitted an application for a community forest program grant, the purpose of which is to acquire private forest land that could be threatened by development.

“That seems to fit this situation like a glove,” he said.

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