PG&E Ditch Access Discussion

Cedar Ridge Ranch Neighorhood Discussions

Do you think the PG&E trail should be public access?

Poll ended at Mon Aug 18, 2003 5:53 pm

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Total votes : 4

PG&E Ditch Access Discussion

Postby Jay Bunten » Wed Jun 18, 2003 5:25 pm

An article published in the Union Democrat today (June 18, 2003) discussed the public’s right to, and the property owner's right to prevent, access to the trail along side PG&E’s Main Canal. The canal meanderers through many of our Cedar Ridge Ranch properties, mine included.

County Board Chairman, Mark Thornton, requested that both the County Counsel’s office and the Community Development Department research the Trail-access issue and report back.

While my property has a ditch easement, the ditch itself is between the trail and the remainder of my property. The ditch acts a sort of a moat, relieving me of many of the problems other ditch-side property owner have. Then there is still the issue of liability in the event someone is hurt while on my property.

If the court declares a prescriptive easement for the trail, is the county going to assume the liability?

I’m opening this discussion forum to allow you to express your opinion on this matter.
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Ditch Access

Postby jlaforce » Sun Jun 29, 2003 9:16 am

I agree that there are liabilities regarding the ditch. Also, the dog owners who do not leash their dogs cause a hazard to other walkers, joggers, bikers, etc. as well as the property owners. I an a walker on the ditch and at times have been approached by dogs in a potential hazardous way. I still feel that the ditch should be available for public access for walking, jogging, biking, etc. I would like to see the dog owners keep their dogs on a leash. I don't think there have been any lawsuits for people getting hurt on the ditch? Therefore, I vote to keep the ditch open and also to try to get people to obey the leash and safety laws. Also, at times there a people riding motorcycle type vehicles on the ditch, which is also against the rules. Somehow need to enforce the rules on the ditch.
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Postby bobjunger » Wed Jul 09, 2003 8:56 pm

I definitely believe the trail should be open to the public--much like any other park or trail system. Recently a petition was circulating on the trail, but the organizer did not identify themselves with phone or PO Box. Both sides of the paper was full of signatures. To safeguard it, I took it, xeroxed it and plan to return it. But someone else may destroy it. Who is the owner/organizer? There needs to be more organization...a grass roots movement to protect that beautiful walk.
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Ditch Access

Postby Judy LaForce » Thu Jul 10, 2003 8:12 am

I know the originator of the petition. I have notified him of your interest and will get back to you or he will get back to you. I wasn't sure if he wanted me to publish his name. Thanks for your reply.
Judy LaForce

Ditch Blockage or usage?

Postby Brian Ferrell » Thu Jul 10, 2003 12:36 pm

I just wrote a detailed and thorough history that disappeared when I hit the tab key! I'll be brief.

1. We need to (oneday) organize a grassroots effort that adjudicates the people's "prescribed easement" to trespass along the ditch trail. This would require organizing, $, and an attorney.

2. PGE, TUD and the County will not pay heed to anyone's right to pass the ditch unless we do. Right now they tell any landowner that they may pass - or fence - the trail at their option. This is the problem.

3. Two years ago a similar campaign was won in superior and appellate court in Nevada County re: the Rattlesnake Canal. They have 'blazed" the trail for us. We can grassroot organize most of the effort.

4. A dozen of us (mostly along Mt. Eliz Dr.) have written to ask PGE, TUD, and the County if they were in any way involved in permitting the gate structures on the canal. We also asked for their position on gating and on public use. We are waiting for their responses. (As of now, we have a strong sense that there is no change on this lack of policy.)

When responses are in, we will announce a meeting and have a public discussion of the issue, the history, and the options as we see them. From this people may decide to let it alone, or make the effort to get some standing for the trail. We'll see...

An editorial by Brian Ferrell:

People already have earned a prescriptive right to use this trail by virtue of over a hundred years of free and notorious use. By recognizing this right, we can make some open and democratic efforts to see that usage occurs in a reasonable manner, and that property rights get respected.

By continuing to ignore this right, it is possible to lose the trail to those who would fence it and stop all use. An uncertaintity exists regarding liability, user and property rights. As it sits, we could all throw up gates and lose it right now. Boy, would that ever be felony dumb!

PS: Tuolumne County has an indemnity policy for any ditch-side landowner who wishes to be protected from ditch user inspired suits. I will bring a copy of the policy to the meeting that we have.

Brian Ferrell
Brian Ferrell

Postby edren » Wed Jul 16, 2003 10:22 pm

As a part time resident, I have walked and biked the ditch many times. I think it would be a shame to lose this "treasure". I do agree that dogs should be leashed and anyone using the trail should respect private property and stay on the trail. It's really a sad day to think that a few can limit the access to all. The ditch has been in existence much longer than the homes in the area, to lose access for hiking, fishing, and biking would lessen our experience of such a beautiful senic area.

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Public access on ditch trails

Postby gnavarro » Fri Jul 18, 2003 10:39 am

I am very sadden that this subject is an issue. We bought our house in Cedar Ridge last year with the excitement of the availability of walking along the ditch. It is one of the highlights of going up on the weekends. We also liked the idea of a small-close neighborhood. This issue kinda sounds like stuff that happens here in the city, not the country. :(

Ditch Trail Signatures

Postby Bob Junger » Sat Jul 19, 2003 10:44 am

Again, as mentioned above, I have a signature sheet with both sides filled I want to return to the organizer to keep the ditch trail open. You can reach me at Please update me if there is an organization(s) yet to challenge the gates going in on the trail and to persue a prescriptive easement. I'm very interested in keeping the trail accessible.
Bob Junger

Ditch Access - Annual Meeting

Postby jlaforce » Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:46 am

For you who are interested, our annual meeting of the CRRPOA is this coming Saturday - July 26th at noon at Dogwood Lake. The ditch access will be one of our topics of discussion. More input is needed and encouraged. Possibly we can help out with this problem since we are interested in our neighborhood and its assets.
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Ditch Access

Postby Cathie Lobdell » Thu Jul 31, 2003 6:31 am

My spouse and I have owned property adjacent to the ditch for 23 years off of Broken Pine Road. We, too, feel the ditch should be accessible by the public. I do have to agree with some of the postings that people need to keep their dogs leashed. Recently, I was crossing a bridge with my two granddaughters, and a woman with two dogs (one great big one) came along and the big dog lunged towards us - my youngest granddaughter was extremely frightened and hid behind me. I have to admit I was very upset. When I reminded the women that there is a leash law, she said "I know, but they need exercise". She then continued to walk on with her dogs unleashed. I wonder what she would have said had the dog bitten one of my grandchildren?
Cathie Lobdell

Postby tinalan » Mon Aug 04, 2003 6:30 am

Looking forward to meeting on the ditch issue. Any idea when or where? Is our county supervisor Paoli Maffei involved at all at this point? What is the next step?
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trail access

Postby Jim Doran » Mon Aug 18, 2003 6:52 pm

We have been part time residents of Cedar Ridge for about 2 years. We really like this area. One of the reasons we like this area is because of the easy access to the ditch. I remember the real estate agent showing us the ditch and explaing how people use it for fishing, hiking and bike riding.
It really is an asset to our community. It is a great place to walk or ride your bike. I was surprised to find locked gates blocking the trail. I assumed the trail was public but I guess it isn't. It would be a real shame if the public was denied access to the trail. :roll: :roll:
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Postby Larry Serpa » Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:53 pm

I purchased property up there also (Buggy Way) and like the idea of the ditch being open to all (ditch and trail on my property). My dad keeps saying the ditch is going to be closed and water piped under ground, is there any basis for his concerns?
Larry Serpa

TUD clarifies ditch access

Postby Jay Bunten » Tue Feb 03, 2004 12:13 pm

The following was taken from the TUD Jorunal Fall 2003, which came in our February TUD water bill.

TUD Clarifies position on ditch access.

Can I walk along the ditch?
TUD gets the question often:
Many segments of Toulumne County's ditch system have long been popular walking trails. But TUD has no right or authority to permit this activity. The district has the right to access to the ditch sysyem for water system activities only.
To clarify the issue, TUD directors in August adopted an official position regarding ditch access. It make three points:

* The district does not own rights of way and easements for all existing ditches in the Tuolumne Water System, however district representatives have the right of access to the ditch system for operation, maintenance inspection and repair.

* The district has no right or authority to grant access or use to any other person or to the general public for general use, enjoyment ot other purpose.

* Where ditches are located on private property, ditch access is a matter between the private property owner and the person wanting access.
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Preserving Ditch Trails Access

Postby ombudsman » Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:16 pm

It would be nice to be able to rely upon TUD and PG&E to protect our right of access to the ditch trails. But TUD wants to pretend it has no such responsibility. Diverting attention away from the immeasurable value of the ditch trails, TUD has ineptly stoked divisiveness between property owners and trail users, "Where ditches are located on private property, ditch access is a matter between the private property owner and the person wanting access."

The ditch trails are a magnificent and unique asset that also happen to greatly benefit property values. Water leaking from the ditch has sustained a verdant ribbon along its route, and is essential to sustaining wildlife. Memorable views from the trail bring us closer to nature. Our community is brought closer together when we use the trails gently, rather than climb into the isolation of our cars. Yes, there are inevitable drawbacks to the use of any community venues, and conflicts do arise. But in the long run, the peace and serenity usually found along the ditch can only help to reduce the harm caused by alternatives, like jumping into gas guzzling cars or staring blankly into flickering televisions.

Progress toward a long term resolution, to protect the future of the ditch trails, hinges upon both cooperation within the community and assurance that the utilities and government agencies involved take their responsibilities seriously and are held accountable.
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