Saturday, December 04, 2010


Cache Creek access issues at Rumsey Bridge - Letters needed to document history of public usage.

Local landowners are trying to shut down public access to Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge. To help insure continued public access in the future we need to document the longest possible history of past use of Rumsey Bridge to access Cache Creek. Letters are especially needed from old time boaters who have used Rumsey Bridge for creek access more than 10 years ago. Rumsey Bridge can be used as a take-out for the whitewater runs upstream, or a put-in for the flatwater Rumsey to Guinda Run.

Searching for old time boaters who have used Rumsey Bridge river access in past decades - guest author Shawn O'Brien.

Fellow Paddlers and Friends,

My name is Shawn O'Brien, residing in Ukiah, Ca. I have written a letter concerning access issues at Rumsey Bridge. I was hoping you might consider sharing this letter with the paddle folks you know. I have already sent this to Post. Thanks In advance for any consideration on this.

I have been working for the last year writing letters, talking to local folks, extracting information from Yolo County Maintenance and Yolo County Legal Counsel and gathering legal advice from (NORS) the National Organization of Rivers (Eric Leaper). The issue is access to Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge on County Road 41.

Since January 2010, the landowners on each side of the road have piled huge amounts of debris right up to the edge of the bridge on the east side, making boat access impossible. They have blocked access with up-rooted fruit trees, huge stumps, wire fences and anything else they could find. I can look over the bridge on both sides and see well worn paths.

Jim Campbell from Yolo County Maintenance reports “the width of the public right of way along County Road 41 is 40 feet. The width of the bridge at the eastern end of the abutment flare is approximately 34 feet. The County has not issued any encroachment permits for fencing within the right of way.”

Eric Leaper from NORS says “the courts have confirmed the public right to get from road bridges down to rivers. The different feet of width vary from place to place, but the overall requirement is a usable public path from the road down to the river.” In this case it is 6 feet.

Philip Pogledich, Legal Counsel to Yolo County has suggested that “the legal issues are not as straight forward as Mr. Leaper indicates.” He continues to say “It is possible that if the use of this access point does not go back at least 20-30 years, there is no public right of access.”

I have in my possession 5 books that list Rumsey Bridge as a put-in or take-out point. One of those books is copyrighted in 1968, two of those books are copyrighted in 1973, another in 1974, and another in 1997. I can provide all the book names and authors to Philip Pogledich. One of these books (1968) actually shows a picture of tandem canoers floating to the Rumsey Bridge take-out.

This is where I need help: my use of the Rumsey Bridge access dates back only 10 years and apparently, this is not long enough. I need personal testimonies, regarding historic use of this access point by the boaters, anglers, swimmers etc. that used Rumsey Bridge for recreational purposes 20-30 years ago. It is one thing for the river guide books to suggest access and another that boaters actually walked the path to the river. I am asking anyone (please), who personally floated Cache Creek and used Rumsey Bridge twenty to thirty to forty years ago to write a brief, signed statement indicating how long ago and even how often they used this access point. Feel free to write longer detailed accounts.

If you feel compelled to help I would greatly appreciate it. Rumsey Bridge is to be replaced within the next 5 years. If the bridge is widened, the 6 foot public easement may be history. If long term usage is proven now, public access may be reinstated.

If you can help, please mail to: Shawn O’Brien, 1031 Maple Avenue, Ukiah, Ca. 95482

I will hand deliver these to Philip Pogledich, Legal Counsel to Yolo County.

If you require more information or can assist in any way, feel free to contact me at:

Thank You & Good Boating, Shawn O’Brien

For more information:
West Coast River Touring - Rogue River Canyon and South, 1974. (pg. 197-201, book describes Cache Creek boating, including access at Rumsey Bridge)
Cache Creek Wild and Scenic - Whitewater Paddleboating Overview.
Securing paddleboater's legal rights to whitewater river kayaking, rafting and canoeing in California and Nevada.

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There has been positive progress regarding access to Cache Creek at Rumsey Bridge on County Road 41. The landowners have pushed back the dumped debris from the upstream side of the bridge. The landowners are in the process of building a fence parallel to the bridge along the line of the recorded roadway right-of-way (“easement”), which is three feet on either side from the widest point on the bridge in accordance with the public right of way. There is still a tremendous amount of overgrowth blocking the new easement path and we are working on plans to clear that debris.

I have been working every step of the way with Lee Schmelter, a real property attorney in Sacramento on this access issue and there has also been a good bit of local pressure as well.

There are many details that must still be worked out and I will follow this email with one in greater detail as things come together.

Thank you to all the organizations that were willing to post my original letter and to all of those who submitted historical usage letters.

Good Paddling, Shawn O'Brien.
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