The North State's Awe-Inspiring Public Lands
● By Christy Milan
By Christy Milan
THE SUNLIGHT SPARKLED among the green foliage as we hiked down the path. Trees appeared on each side, stretching their limbs to the sky. The hiking trail passed through meadows, forests and streams, providing breathtaking beauty. We were not disappointed as we came around a bend to find the mountains displaying themselves against the blue sky, including majestic Mt. Shasta rising up out of the landscape. The hike was relaxing, yet invigorating.
National forests present ample opportunities to play in our own backyard. Living in the land of the free, we, the American public, own these lands. We are shareholders of mountains, streams, rivers, deserts and wilderness areas. Conservation of the land ensures that other generations will be provided the same opportunity to appreciate and enjoy public lands. Four systems take care of America’s federal public lands: The National Forest System at 36,155,817 acres, Bureau of Land Management at 8,752,349 acres, the National Wildlife Refuge System at 20,702,488 acres and the National Park System at 43,890,368 acres. All land systems include wilderness, and they have similar missions in regards to conservation and preservation for all to appreciate and enjoy.
Living in the North State comes with many perks, including its natural beauty. Easily accessible activities include camping, fishing, hunting, boating, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, off-highway vehicles, mountain biking, hiking, photography, birding, wildlife viewing and climbing. Activities continue with all types of winter sports including skiing, snowmobile riding and cross country skiing. Our public lands offer several cultural heritage sites along with stunning natural landscapes. The wild lands provide inspiration to explore and create your own adventure.
Local awe-inspiring public areas include the Sacramento River Bend Natural Area, Reading Island Recreational Site, Sacramento River Trail, Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle Area, Fort Sage Off-Highway Vehicle Area, Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, Jelly’s Ferry River Access, Shasta Campground, Girard Ridge Rental Lookout, Contara/Ney Springs Wildlife Area, Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail, Clear Creek Preserve, Hornbeck Trail, the Sacramento Ditch Trail, Battle Creek Wildlife Area and Old Shasta.
Some areas offer interpretive displays, guided hikes, salmon viewing and historical locations and artifacts. For example, the Hornbeck Trail runs the path of the historic mining railroad along the banks of the Sacramento River. The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail follows the Southern Pacific Railroad along Susanville River, winding through the canyon with 12 bridges and trestles. In the fall, the leaves change colors, and their beauty appeared in Rails-To-Trails Conservancy’s 1997 “Fall Foliage on the Web” rail-trails guide. Many areas have riparian forests, marshes and oak woodlands all with stories of history waiting to be discovered.
The Shasta Land Trust was founded in 1998 and has protected nearly 25,000 acres of farm land, open-space and wildlife habitat in the North State. The trust works with landowners, communities, partners and donors to conserve local lands. "Only with the guidance of Shasta Land Trust could the 80-mile Great Shasta Rail Trail become a reality," says April Gray of the Great Shasta Trail Rail Trail.
Executive Director Paul Vienneau adds, "Through 16 new projects over the next three years, the Shasta Land Trust will play a significant role in conserving thousands of acres of land that will be open to public access. Our public land is vital to who we are as residents of Shasta County. We fish, hike, and hunt on these lands and it has been and always will be what makes our home special."
Public lands are essential to the health and vibrancy of our local communities. They are the perfect place to get outside and play in your own backyard. Please follow the guidelines for the area and remember to practice the “leave no trace” policy. •
Whiskeytown Hike, History & Beach Party
Saturday, July 21, 8am to 2 pm
Hosted by Jennifer and Jason Snider and Aaron Hatch
Hike to Kennedy-era historical site, beach party,
barbecue on the shores of Whiskey Creek
Tickets $45; go to www.shastalandtrust.org