A trail we otter not build

Randy Abbot is a philosopher, nature lover and preservationist

Are you aware that the city of Chico is in the planning stages of building a new creek-side trail on the south side of Big Chico Creek in Upper Park? Probably not, as this project has received almost zero attention from the local media.

If you are somewhat familiar with the ramifications such a trail would have in regard to riverbank conditions and to the known fragile denizens (otters, turtles, etc.) who survive solely because the south banks have remained undeveloped, then by simply reading the above you’re already pissed!

If, however, you’re not so sure that the merits of the plan don’t outweigh the impacts, then you need to think this through. Go brain go.

Are otters bitchin'? Yes.

Are turtles totally cool? Yes.

Do you want to look across the creek from the north to south when you’re 30, 60, 80 years old and still see the unspoiled beauty of the river banks? Let me hear you say, “Hell yeah!”

And what about the grandkids? Don’t they deserve that view, too? The preservation of Bidwell Park’s most scenic features is a family value. I’m not joking here. The condition of your park, like the condition of your city, affects land value. An enjoyable park attracts tourists and generates money. Therefore protecting Bidwell Park is a business value, as well.

What will happen to the south bank of Big Chico Creek in Upper Park if the trail is built? The same thing that’s happened to the banks of the north side, along the Yahi Trail. Anywhere and everywhere humans can access the creek, they do—I should say “we” do because you can always find me up there hiking or swimming. This simple innocent act repeated over time denudes, erodes and compacts the soil and, most important, renders these areas unfit for the fragile amphibians and shy otters.

Because no trail exists on the south side of the creek close enough to the creek to provide easy access, the south side remains a nearly perfect habitat. Yet at the same time we have the Yahi Trail on the north, which provides access to every inch of Big Chico Creek in Upper Park. We get our cake and can eat it, too!

If you agree with me and think that the south banks of Big Chico Creek need the protection they deserve, the only way this trail can be stopped is for you to get involved!

“Me?!” you say. Hey, I’m not talking to that oak tree over there.

The good news is that it will be easy, taking only a couple of minutes. And when you’re done, you’ll be overwhelmed with a deep sense of satisfaction because you did the right thing!

What to do? Contact your Chico city councilmembers; tell them you dislike the idea of the south side becoming as impacted as the north side already is. Tell them the north-side access is plenty as far as the creek goes. Tell them to leave the south side alone. Tell them you like turtles.