Thursday, August 16, 2012

Solutions journalism sketch: Hirshman's Pond trail issues

I'm one person and there's too #$%^& much to do, most of it far more important than this, but I think it's worth at least laying out what "solutions journalism" coverage of the recent Hirshman's Pond trail issues might look like.

The last Nevada City city council meeting included airing of landowners' grievances on use of the pond part of the trail.  Overall, the trail goes from the trailhead/parking lot at the bottom of Cement Hill Road, west a short distance to Hirshman's Pond, then continues further west to end at Indian Flat/Indian Trail near The Willo steakhouse on 49. From reading The Union, it semed the concerns revolved mainly around people leaving the official trail to travel further around the pond, and their off-trail impact there on wildlife and to some degree also on the landowners.

IMO "solutions journalism" coverage would address (all or some of) the following questions:

Who are the stakeholders? They include landowners, trail users of diverse interests, dogs (if only via their owners), wildlife (or their representatives), the future public. Are there others? 

Have stakeholders been invited to the table? (The day before the city council meeting, I saw no notice posted at the trailhead; though even if there had been, the noticeboard there is not in a spot where a regular user would check regularly.)

Is there a low tech, "20%" solution to address 80% of the concerns?  (Would a short fence with signage ("please turn around, these are our backyards") take care of the major problems?).

Were assurances made, when the trail was envisioned and being planned, and what weight should be given to those assurances?

What are "best practices" for a trail of this type, in an area like ours? (Is there a "pattern language" for trail design?) And -- particularly when a third party is funding the trail -- should our decisions on appropriate trail usage be guided by these best practices?  For example, the handiicapped-accessible section of the trail ends at the pond, but no bench or other seating is provided there; benches have been installed earlier along the trail, just not where (IMO) users will be most wanting to use them.

How could the "happiness index" be applied to balancing diverse trail interests? (I believe one complaint was that dogs were going into the pond;  how would a prohibition affect the satisfaction of water-loving dogs and their owners?)

What other questions should inform the decisionmaking?

1 comment:

SkiTheStars said...

I take my dogs to the Middle Yuba Oregon Creek area after sunset when there is almost no one there. Wish would could find a place available during the day, off leash. May eventually blaze one down the extremely steep hillside behind our property to the Middle Yuba, in the middle of nowhere.