Why those hills are golden and rollin’, not covered by Mc Mansions

Posted August 4, 2008 by Malina

As you float down the South Fork, you notice the whitewater, the rocks, the sunbathers on the beach…but hopefully you also notice the broader beauty of the canyon.  The families of wild ducks, tawny deer, soaring vultures, chattering chickadees.  The hillsides of the Coloma-Lotus Valley rise low and wide above the South Fork, dotted with majestic oak trees and carpeted in golden grass–the classic scenery of the Gold Rush, cattle drives, and rural Northern California.  The reason these hills still exist in their wild form–or at least a significant part of the reason–is due to the efforts of the American River Conservancy.  This local organiziation (they’re based in an historic building in Coloma) works hard all year long to preserve open space in this area, balancing the need for wilderness and nature, and human recreation. 

For instance, if you’ve rafted the Lower section of the South Fork American River, you might have eaten lunch at Cronan Ranch.  This property was a part of the original Bacchi family ranch holdings.  The Conservancy bought a 1414 acre parcel of it, which is now administered by the BLM.  Rafters like us aren’t the only beneficiaries–hikers, walkers, and horse-riders also get to use its 12 miles of trails for recreational use.

Another big-profile purchase was over 200 acres on Mt. Murphy.  Rising above the State Park in Coloma, and easily visable from many places in the valley and by rafters on the Upper section of the South Fork, Mt. Murphy is one of the major landmarks for our community.  The ARC’s purchase ensures that in the future we will all continue to enjoy the spectacular spring poppies on the Mt’s river-facing slopes without having to look past the glare of yet another housing or retail development.


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