Friday, March 09, 2012


Cooperation Restores Access to Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge (Yolo County, California)

Guest authors: Shawn O’Brien & Walter (Lee) Schmelter

Dear Paddlers and Friends,

Recreational access to Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge has been restored! Since the 1930's the public enjoyed access to beautiful Cache Creek via the Rumsey Bridge access point. River users were disappointed and frustrated when in the spring of 2010 public access was illegally blocked.

(Doubleclick on the pictures to see the larger image - use the back button to return.)

Before: Rumsey Bridge across Cache Creek - access blocked by huge debris pile, Spring 2010.
Cache Creek river access blocked at Rumsey Bridge

After more than a year of negotiations we were able develop a workable solution with the cooperation of the landowners. Impetus for resolving the easement blockage originated from two concerned paddlers - Shawn O'Brien of Ukiah (myself) and attorney Walter (“Lee”)) Schmelter of Sacramento - but we would not have been successful without the assistance of many others. Several groups and individuals made significant contributions of time and effort to this project, including Yolo County; the California Conservation Corps (which built the access path as a community service project); Senator Mike Thompson's office; Andrew Fulks of Tuleyome; the California State Land Commission; attorney John Holland; and the local residents of Rumsey. All were all pivotal players.

During: California Conservation Corps clearing the easement January 12-13, 2012.

CCC clearing the easement for Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge

The newly designated path, construction gifted by the California Conservation Corps, is across the river from Rumsey, on river-left, upriver and parallel to the bridge. The landowners agreed to a ten-foot wide path - though the recorded Hwy. 41 easement

extends but three feet on either side of the bridge. One good wide path is a better arrangement for all. Public parking is permitted on the upstream side of the bridge, and is discouraged on the downstream side of bridge. Of course, use discretion when deciding how many vehicles can park along the road. Plentiful and visible parking is available a short walk away at the Rumsey Post Office on Route 16. When putting-in or taking-out please stay within the ten-foot wide path parallel to the bridge, being mindful of private property.

The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) donated "Pack it in Pack It Out" signs, which were reworked by Yolo County Maintenance Dept. However, no maintenance of this site is planned by Yolo County. Fellow river-users (as always) are strongly encouraged to help maintain this access point, including trash removal and control of vegetation overgrowth along the existing path while respecting private property. Invasive non-native tamarisk trees are an issue at this site: Historic photos show that without maintenance it took less than six years for tamarisk to completely overtake this site. Many thanks to all the individuals who contributed to this positive outcome by posting our letters, providing historical usage statements and photographs and providing many important contacts we could not easily have made on our own.

After: Newly designated agreed access path at Rumsey Bridge.

new access path for Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge

Happy Paddling,
Shawn O'Brien (
Lee Schmelter, Attorney at Law (
65 Thirty Sixth Way, Sacramento, Ca. 95819
Phone: 916 457.9001
FAX: 916 457.3200

For more information:
• (update) As rivers flow, so should public access - Editorials - Sacramento Bee 27march2012
• (update) California creeks, levees may be next battleground for public access - Sacramento Bee 25march2012.
Cache Creek access issues at Rumsey Bridge - Letters needed to document history of public usage 04dec2010.
Cache Creek Wild and Scenic - Whitewater Paddleboating Overview.
Securing paddleboater's legal rights to whitewater river kayaking, rafting and canoeing in California and Nevada.
West Coast River Touring - Rogue River Canyon and South, 1974. (pg. 197-201, book describes Cache Creek boating, including access at Rumsey Bridge)

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Thanks for all your hard work to keep this access point! Julie Rose, Brooks
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