Trails are not income producers

By November 2, 2010

EDITOR: I see the trails group is again misleading the residents and businesses of El Dorado County.

A quote from the trails group: “Trails boost the economy! The American River Parkway reports $360 million in economic benefits.”

From the American River Parkway (ARP): The American River Parkway generates and estimated $364,218,973 annually for the local Sacramento economy (American River Parkway: Financial Needs Study Update, the Dangermond Group, 2006)
The study is what the ARP uses to make the claim of $360 million in revenue generation. This same report breaks down which type of ARP users make up that claim and how much dollar value they are worth. The trail users are one of the lowest per person contributor on the list of ARP users and the largest area of cost to maintain. The ARP has other venues such as fishing, swimming, & boating, to name a few, that make up the rest of that reported $360 million of which the El Dorado Trail Corridor cannot match.

The ARP maintenance budget is $2.3 million in fiscal year 2009-10. This funds the maintenance staff that cleans restrooms, maintains the trails, picks up litter and empty garbage cans, responds to dumping and vandalism, makes repairs to fencing, provides fire breaks, and other tasks that protect the parkway, its visitors and resources. This budget also funds all utility costs, toilet paper, garbage can liners, mowers, tractors and power tools, etc. all per ARP’s Website information.

This same study shows that operation of the ARP is still a negative cost to the county and requires “augmentation” of funds going out 10 years, per the study. This study recommends assessments to the residents and districts or all costs will be ultimately borne by the general fund.

Also from the ARP information Website, “What about potential increased litigation costs for those who get injured on the Parkway with less maintenance? Answer: The County is self-insured, and Regional Parks pays into this self insurance fund. Any increase in claims will be factored into future charges for the department.”

The trail group would not be taking this misinformation path to secure bike trails only if it weren’t from some self-imposed thought that rail use will eliminate the use of a bike trail along the corridor. The rail proponents have no problem with a bike trail along side of the rail. The rail use is not going to cost El Dorado County any funds, none, zero. The rail use will end up saving money on the maintenance, fire breaks, and security for both El Dorado County and other trail users as it has been for the past ten years through the railroad volunteers.

I do wish to see a trail alongside the rail. I do wish to see a rail use of the corridor. I don’t like misinformation tactics used when both the bike trail and the rail use would complement each other and would eventually keep maintenance costs of the bike trail lower to the residents and businesses of El Dorado County with having a full rail use.

Pollock Pines

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