A Reno to Rim Trail reality?
Nevada Appeal News Service
April 29, 2008, 4:01 AM
The avid hiking and cycling population in Incline Village, Crystal Bay and the entire Northern Nevada community has for years wondered if a Reno to Tahoe hiking trail was feasible.
Around this time next year, those citizens may get a positive answer.
A tentative date is set for mid-summer 2009 to begin work on a 15-mile hiking trail that would connect at the Tahoe Rim Trail, near the base of the Mt. Rose summit, run north through the Carson Range and end at Hunter Creek, just south of Reno, said Mark Kimbrough, executive director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and a Carson City resident.
“Right now, it’s the best case scenario, to start by mid-summer of next year,” Kimbrough said. “There’s plenty of things that could snag it along the way, but it’s the tentative date to start construction.
“But I will say that if it’s not started by 2010, it would be flabbergasting.”
If the entire proposal works, hikers also would be able to hike on a non-stop trail that spans Relay Peak, Houghton Peak and the Mt. Rose summit, Kimbrough said.
According to previous reports, talks of the “Reno to Rim Trail” got louder around this time last year, when then-TRTA associate director Erin Casey said the project was in its infant stages, in which association members were beginning to assess if the trail is feasible.
Those assessments have been made, Kimbrough said, and the association feels it has a winner in a proposed trail from Reno to Tahoe.
“As soon as the snow melts, we’re going to be out there, the ‘ologists’ will be out there, hitting the proposed route and doing the environmental assessments,” Kimbrough said. “There’s been a whole lot of work gone into this proposed route. It looks pretty good. If everything comes together, you’re going to be able to hike from Reno up to Tahoe.”
TRTA recently received a $247,750 grant from the Nevada Division of State Lands, as part of the Round 5 Question One bond requests the division received.
According to the Nevada Division of State Lands Web site, the Conservation and Resource Protection Grant Program became known as the Question One Program after Nevadans approved 2002 Conservation Bill, which authorized the state of Nevada to issue general obligation bonds for various projects, in an amount not to exceed $200 million.
One of those projects approved late last summer was the Reno to Rim Trail idea, said Kevin Hill, the Question One bond coordinator for the Nevada Division of State Lands.
“What happens, as Nevada and the development pressures of Nevada continues to grow, approving open space and recreation trails become more important, and recreation trails are part of Question One bonds,” Hill said. “This project has gotten a lot of community support, and TRTA has had a very good history of great trails.”
Kimbrough said TRTA will use the $274,000 grant to hire the private contractors to do environmental assessments on the proposed trail over the summer.
Once summer is over and all the assessments are made, the next step is for those assessors to present their findings to the U.S. Forest Service, which would determine if any areas of the proposed trail violate forest service law.
Even if the Forest Service sees problems, it shouldn’t cause too many snags in the planning process, Kimbrough said.
“The proposed trail is designed in a way that if you find something, where it gets in the way of trees or plants, you can simply move the trail around the problem area,” he said.
After the Forest Service phase, which Kimbrough said he anticipates to take place next winter, the project moves forward to a public forum phase, if the forest service OKs the project.
Public hearings to garner feedback and weigh citizen concern would take place throughout the first half of 2009.
“We’d have public hearings in Incline and probably in Reno, too, so we can address all the concerns,” Kimbrough said.
Hill said he sees the Reno to Rim Trail as a positive project for Northern Nevada.
“When you look at the size of Washoe County, there’s a lot of emphasis on getting outside, to go to parks and camps and go hiking,” Hill said. “I think Nevada voters would really support a project like this.”
After the public forums, Kimbrough said TRTA and the Forest Service would work together to compile a large document, detailing the project’s entire scope, including completing necessary National Environmental Policy Act information, to ensure the project is environmentally-sound, as well.
From there, the tentative goal is to finish the paper work by mid-summer and begin construction, Kimbrough said.