It looks like the Yocha Dehe Nation wants to close the public out of the Yolo County Road 41 (Rumsey to Arbuckle) and keep it for themselves:
Yocha Dehe Nation wants CR-41 for itself
Recreationalists, some locals want to keep road open; Yolo County abandoned road in March
By MELODY STONE
Created: 12/04/2009 02:30:10 AM PST
Gage Hutchens looks down County Road 41, which was abandoned by the county in March and which the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation wants to purchase. Hutchens, who lives along CR-41, said the tribe has taken better care of the land next to the road than the previous owners did. (Melody Stone/Democrat)
Hikers, bikers, and residents of Rumsey are opposing the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation's attempt to privatize County Road 41.
Yocha Dehe wants to protect their land, which abuts the road, and maintain it now that the county has abandoned it.
The issue come before the County Planning Commission Dec. 10 and what they decide goes before the Board of Supervisors.
The tribe states it wants to protect the land from trespassers and vandals, while citizens want to keep the road public and open for pedestrian and some vehicle use.
CR-41 runs from Highway 16 near Rumsey to Arbuckle in Colusa County. A large portion of the road is dirt, and closed in the winter months because the soft clay deteriorates quickly. Every year the county
County Road 41 is mostly dirt after this sign, making vehicle traffic difficult, but many do so anyway, especially in the summer months, which was when the road was in its best shape thanks to county maintenance. The county gave up maintaining the road in March. (Melody Stone/Democrat)
grated the road and reopens it to traffic for the summer months, until March, when the county decided to no longer maintain the road due to budget constraints.
Gage Hutchens lives on the road in question. He's the only house after the road closure.
The property down the road belongs to Yocha DeHe. Hutchens said the previous owners didn't maintain or take good care of the land. Since the tribe purchased the land, it's been better maintained and clear signage indicating private property can be seen all along the road.
Prior to taking action to privatize the road, Yocha Dehe approached the landowners along CR-41. Hutchens said the landowners were all interested in closing the road to vehicle traffic.
Michelle LaPena, an
attorney with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, said pedestrians and cars on the unmaintained road pose a liability to the tribe and the tribe wants to keep its sacred sites safe.
"The tribe's concern is if someone comes on to the property and destorys the cultural sites," LaPena said. "They've had a lot of vandalizing in the past."
Hutchens said he understands both sides: He's Cherokee.
He said the road needs to be maintained. Driving up the road, after a few rains, portions of the road are already worn away and will soon become impassible. Large cracks appear in multiple places up the grade, after a few rains. Hutchens said this summer the road was completely smooth and now it's already showing wear.
"The road is very fragile and has to be maintained on a yearly basis," Hutchens said. "If the county doesn't maintain the road - the road will become impassible."
Rumsey resident Frankie Gonsalves is not happy about the possibly privatization of CR-41. He enjoys taking the historic road in the summer all the way to Arbuckle and would hate to see it closed year-round.
Gonsalves said he would be willing to contribute his own money to a fund to help keep the road open.
LaPena said the tribe understands residents' and hikers' resistance to loosing access to the road. LaPena said many native tribes in California lost many trails when land was taken from them and became privatized; they know the sentimental value land holds and know the feeling of having it taken from them.
"It's ironic that the tribe's (having) trouble protecting their aboriginal land that they've now reclaimed," LaPena said.