Public weighs in on Loveland a second time

Revitalization of trails at Loveland Reservoir stumbled, in part, because community talks revealed there was a variety of issues the public wanted addressed with a $750,000 state grant.

The Sweetwater Authority held its second com­munity workshop for the Loveland (Reservoir) Trail Improvements on March 14 at the Alpine Women’s Club.

Sweetwater Authority General Manager Carlos Quintero said there were a couple of things hap­pening that hindered progression of revitalizing the trails at the Loveland Reservoir. He said the Authority received a grant in last year’s budget from Assembly Bill 102, the Budget Act of 2023, receiving $750,000 for the Loveland Trail Im­provements project, a grant being administered by the California Department of Water Resources.

“When we received this money, which was spon­sored by California Senate Minority Leader Bri­an Jones, who was the champion of this money, we decided to work with the community and see what their priorities are,” he said. “We held a meeting last December here at the Authority to get that conversation going. I think that meet­ing went very well, and we realized that there were many requests from the community, and that they certainly wanted to see the Loveland program enhanced.”

Quintero said in conjunction with Jones’ office, they held a meeting last week in Alpine.

“They wanted us to be there so more of the Alpine community members could be there to participate,” he said. “Barry Jantz mediated the meeting. He did a great job and helped us stay fo­cused on the conversation. There are many issues that concern the Alpine community regarding the Loveland Reservoir. We hope that the conversa­tion last week stayed focused on how to use that $750,000.”

Quintero said the grant money has been like a “roller coaster” as the funds were frozen by the governor, which meant for a few weeks they did not know if they would be able to access that money. But in February, they learned the money had been released.

“My message to the community is, let us try to allocate this money. Let us have a plan in agree­ment with DWR so we do not lose it again,” he said. “That is the main discussion. I believe there are many good ideas and concerns. We are trying to navigate a couple of things. One is the priori­ties of the community. They want to see the rec­reation program as a whole augment. They want more access. This money is allocated for trail improvement, but we would still need clarifica­tion from DWR to what they will allow, and what they will not allow.”

Quintero said there was talk of wanting a park and talk about opening other trails.

“What we have envisioned at the Sweetwater Authority, back in the storms of January 2023, we had a strong storm that stalled in the Loveland area, and it created a lot of erosion. To the point that it is hard to get from one side where the trail is, to the other side where the fishing platform is. We thought about constructing a bridge to make sure this was not an issue,” he said. “We have a very early pre­liminary cost of about $400,000, and I think that there was some concern from the community that this was too expensive. This is something that we are trying to work on with them. There is a risk that if we do not spend anything by June 2025, the funds might go away.”

Quintero said they must bal­ance the need to spend money now and find and maximize what is done with the funds. He said there was a proposal to make a trail master plan, which was welcomed by the commu­nity. At least it provides a road­map,” he said.

Quintero said the Authority also must identify what kind of mitigations are needed with any project, and what kind of main­tenance is needed. He said that some ideas, such as using vol­unteers, are things that need to be discussed with legal counsel, and mitigation with Authority stakeholders, like the Sweetwa­ter Authority Employees’ Com­mittee.

“We could go in and open a gate, but we really need to look at where there is habitat, and we need to see what the long-term operating costs are,” he said. “This is something where I would not agree to anything until we have that well-estab­lished, and we know who exact­ly is going to pay for the main­tenance and operating costs. I think this master plan, facili­ties plan, or feasibility plan is extremely important and looks for the opportunity in opening other trails. And it also gives the community a roadmap so in the future they could look for money. Certainly, in partner­ship with us, the county, even the state.”

Quintero said overall there was much participation in the discussion, and he thinks that the meeting brought the sense that they were taking a step in the right direction. He said the goal is to keep the conversation focused as they look at ways to improve existing trails, build a bridge, make enhancements, and a study that takes a long-term look at the area.

“We will hopefully be bringing a draft plan to the Authority’s board to be submitted to DWR, and we need to have a plan by the end of this fiscal year, by June 2024. And then it gives us a year to spend the money,” he said.

Quintero said the Authority’s commitment is to continue to work with the community. He said there will be an opportu­nity when they present the plan to the board at regular board meetings and have plans to work with the Alpine Planning Community Group to see if it will host the Authority in their meeting to go over proposed plans. He said that they would not mind holding another meet­ing at the Alpine Women’s Club.


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