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The Pitch

The pinnacle of Falcon journalism

The Pitch

The pinnacle of Falcon journalism

The Pitch

Proposed bridges in Cascade Canyon spark conflict across Marin County

Betsy Engelhardt
San Anselmo creek bed after winter rain where one of the future bridges will be located.

On Nov. 28, the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the construction of two bridges over the San Anselmo Creek in the Elliott Nature Preserve, located in Cascade Canyon. The purpose of these bridges is to allow better trail access during the winter months and to help protect endangered wildlife in the creek beds. 

A group called the Marin County Bike Coalition, which was established to create a more connected biking community, continues to push for the project’s success. The coalition initially proposed the idea to install two bridges in 2016, which was soon after labeled the Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve Bridges and Trail Improvement Project. 

Endangered Foothill Yellow-legged Frog sign located in the Elliot Nature Preserve. (Maisie Ferner)

The project is widely supported, though others make active efforts to stop it from progressing any further. Geoff Bolt, a member of the Fairfax Open Space Committee, lives near the preserve and believes there are many negatives to the bridge project.

“The proposed project changes 750 feet of quiet hiking trail in this legacy area where the wood rats and federally protected owls are thriving into a multi-use bike trail, and preliminary construction has already resulted in the destruction of one of the large [owl] nests,” Bolt said.

Local conservationist Linda Novy is anti-bridge and believes other negative impacts will become of the project, such as wildlife shelter concerns.

“The increase in visitation will impact wildlife by creating more disturbance,” Novy said. 

The beginning of the Carey Camp Trail in Elliot Nature Reserve is surrounded by moss-covered trees. (Maisie Ferner)

In addition to the argued negatives, there are also several believed benefits of this project. Bolt believes benefits arising from the construction will contribute to the Marin biking community. Bikers advocated for this development and for the connection of existing trails, as well as opening new trails throughout Marin.

“Having bridges that connect the Repack Fire Road and Tamarancho Boy Scout to downtown Fairfax would complete a bicycle loop the Mountain Biking community has sought for years,” Bolt said. 

Marin County Parks’ Principal Natural Resources Planner Jon Campo also predicts that the bridges could have positive benefits for the wildlife in the preserve.

Sign where Cascade Drive meets the trail head in Elliott Nature Preserve. (Maisie Ferner)

“The path of travel currently fords the creek several times through sensitive aquatic habitat. The installation of trail bridges will allow people to visit and enjoy the preserve without walking or riding a bike through sensitive aquatic habitat,” Campo said.

While the date of completion is unsure, construction is set to begin as early as summer of 2024, with detailed plans for the bridges in process. 

Despite the many years of disagreement, the controversy has been temporarily stilled by the bridges’ approval. The future will bring more challenges, but for now the plan is in action for the installment of two new bridges located in the Elliott Nature Preserve.

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About the Contributors
Maisie Ferner, Reporter
Maisie is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. In her free time she loves to dance, listen to music, and travel with her family. You can often find her playing with her two dogs or hanging out with friends.
Betsy Engelhardt, Reporter
Betsy is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She likes to read and bake. She plays the piano and you can often find her watching NCIS.
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    CCAJan 26, 2024 at 8:17 AM

    Super well written article, answering many questions I had. Thank you for the in depth work put into this article.