Chapter 5 Public Access Plan - Tuolumne Utilities District

Chapter 5 Public Access Plan - Tuolumne Utilities District

Chapter 5Public Access PlanPhoenix Lake Preservation & Restoration Plan

Chapter 51.0 INTRODUCTIONPhoenix Lake has a rich history of public use andrecreation. Historical accounts recall the lake’sprominence as a recreational destination forthe people of the foothill region (PLTF, 2009;Holton, 2011). Around the turn of the 20 thcentury, a resort was established at the lakethat offered visitors a variety of recreationalactivities including fishing, swimming, boating,picnicking and camping (PLTF, 2009).Photo 5‐1. Fishing on Phoenix Lake, 1893.Beginning in the mid 1920s, a resort known asPhoenix Lake Park hosted dances and musicalevents and included amenities such as aswimming tank, a roller rink, convenience store,and small café (Holton, 2011). Privatedevelopment around the lake, starting in the1960s and continuing through the mid 1980s,effectively closed the lake to public access.Investigating opportunities to reestablish publicaccess to Phoenix Lake is an objective of thePhoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Plan(PLPRP). This chapter describes severalopportunities for restoring public access to thelake. The information contained in this chapteris intended to serve as a guide for developingpublic access amenities and improvements insubsequent phases of the PLPRP.2.0 PUBLIC ACCESS SITESPublic Access PlanPrivate ownership of most of the landsurrounding Phoenix Lake limits theopportunities for establishing public access.Through consultation with the TuolumneUtilities District (TUD) and the Phoenix LakeTask Force (PLTF), three potential public accesssites around the lake were identified: (1) AppleValley, (2) Phoenix Lake Dam, and the (3) BootArea. Figure 5‐1 shows the locations of thesepotential public access sites. These sites wereselected for several reasons including theirlocation relative to existing TUD property andeasements, interest of land owners oravailability of property, and the diversity ofrecreational opportunities they offer.Development of public access and recreation ateach site is described in the following sections.These sites have been previously described bythe PLTF (PLTF, 2009). The descriptions belowbuild upon the work completed by the PLTF.2.1 Apple Valley AccessEstablishing access to Phoenix Lake via AppleValley would allow the public to access thenorthern portion of the lake, whichencompasses the wetland areas that areassociated with Sullivan, Power and Chickencreeks. At this juncture, the most promisingopportunity to develop public access in thisportion of the lake is through properties thatare part of the Cedar Ridge Apple Ranch (Figure5‐2). The TUD has had preliminary discussionswith the property owner regarding the potentialfor public access to portions of the ranch inApple Valley and along the lake front (Figure 5‐1). The property owner expressed enthusiasmfor development of public access and notedthat it was consistent with the long‐term visionfor the property.5‐1

PHOENIX LAKEPUBLIC ACCESS POINTSINDIGENYRESERVEAPPLE VALLEY ACCESS AREAThe main public access point to this area would bevia Cedar Ridge Apple Ranch. Public parkingwould be at Indigeny Reserve or in a new parkingarea closer to the lake. From the parking area, atrail/road would lead to the lake through oakwoodlands. Proposed public accessimprovements and amenities include a lake-sidepicnic area, a 0.5 mile trail and boardwalk systemfor wildlife viewing, educational opportunities, andpotentially a fishing pier. Public access may alsobe available via the Apple Valley Manors Phase IIdevelopment.PHOENIX LAKE DAM ACCESS AREAApple Valley DriveAPPLEVALLEYMANORSChristopher CourtApple Hill DrivePhillip LnBurlupi RdSedimentBasinOld Phoenix Lake RdThe land-side of the dam offers opportunities forwalking trails that lead to lake vistas, wildlifeviewing points, a small boat launch, fishing, andpicnicking. A parking area would be developed atthe end of Meadow Brook Drive. From the parkingarea, a new road or trail would lead to amenities atthe dam. Establishment of this access point wouldrequire TUD to acquire additional property and/oreasements to construct the parking area andaccess to the dam.BOOT AREA ACCESSThe long lots along this steep site provide anopportunity to wind a gently sloping trail fromroadside parking along Phoenix Lake Road. A trailleads down to the lake and a small community raftand kayak launch where visitors may find wildlifeviewing opportunities along the lake margins.Upper Hill View DrLower Hill View DrLake Vista DrMeadow Brook DrivePHOENIX LAKELori LnLakeview DrivePhoenix Lake RoadLEGENDPublic TrailPublic BoardwalkApple Valley Manors TrailN0500 ftPublic Access AreaFigure 5-1. Overview of Public Access Opportunities at Phoenix Lake

PHOENIX LAKEPARCELS OF INTERESTINDIGENYRESERVEHill DriveApplePhillipLnAPPLEVALLEYMANORSBurlupi RdAV-2AV-4Apple VaChristopher CourtAV-1V lley DriveVaAV-3AV-5Old Phoenix Lake RdLakeview DriveLower Hill View DrUpper Hill View DrLake Vista DrPLD-1PHOENIX LAKEBA-2BA-3BA-1Meadow Brook DrivePLD-2Lori LnBA-5BA-4Phoenix Lake RoadLEGENDProposed TrailTUD Parcel / EasementApple Valley Access ParcelsPhoenix Lake Dam Access ParcelsBoot Area Access ParcelsN0500 ftFigure 5-2. Parcels of Interest to Enhance Public Access Opportunities at Phoenix Lake

Chapter 5In addition to the Cedar Ridge Apple Ranchproperty, some limited public access may befeasible via the Apple Valley Manorsdevelopment (Figure 5‐1). The TUD owns afour‐foot wide easement that begins at theintersection of Apple Hill Drive and Phillip Laneand connects to TUD‐owned property inPhoenix Lake via Phase II of the Apple ValleyManors development (Figure 5‐1). However,access to reach this easement is restricted bythe gate at Lyons‐Bald Mountain Road. It isanticipated that the Apple Valley Manorscommunity may allow limited access to thiseasement for organized groups such as schoolsor recreation clubs.Establishing access via Apple Valley wouldprovide diverse recreational opportunities inthe northern portion of the lake. Public accessamenities in this area may include:A trail and boardwalk systemEducational/interpretative signagePicnic areaParking area(s)Preliminary concepts for these amenities aredescribed below.Boardwalk and Trail SystemThe TUD and the PLTF have discussed thepossibility of constructing a floating boardwalkin Phoenix Lake. Figure 5‐1 shows a conceptualalignment for the boardwalk. Access to theboardwalk may be possible from the CedarRidge Apple Ranch or Apple Valley Manors trail.Figure 5‐3 shows a conceptual rendering of howthe boardwalk might look as viewed from theCedar Ridge Apple Ranch looking out towardsthe lake. The concept for the boardwalk alsoincludes a spur that would extend to the newalignment of Sullivan Creek (Figure 5‐1). WhenPublic Access Planlake levels are high in the summer months,fishing may be possible from this point.The boardwalk would likely consist of a floating,anchored timber walkway similar to that shownin the photos included in Figure 5‐ 4. Theanchored, floating system would be designed toaccommodate the large season water levelfluctuations (approximately 6 ft) experienced inthe lake. The floating boardwalk would likelyneed to be custom manufactured to meet thedesign specification for Phoenix Lake. Potentialmanufactures include, but are not limited to,the following companies:SuperDeck Floating Dock Systems( Marinas( Coast Docks( conceptual plan for the trail system alsoincludes land‐based portions of the trail thatwould traverse through a forested area on theCedar Ridge Apple Ranch property. Whenconnected with the boardwalk, this wouldestablish a “loop trail” covering a total distanceof approximately 0.5 miles.The Apple Valley Manors easement is currentlyan unimproved dirt path that ends at TUD’sproperty in Phoenix Lake. This path could beimproved by installing a low maintenance,durable surface such as stabilized soil ordecomposed granite. Other improvements forthis section of trail may include signage thatdirects the public to the lake and educationalinformation regarding local wildlife.Improvements that require more space, such asa picnic area, would not be possible becausethe easement is only four‐feet wide.5‐4

Figure 5‐3. Rendering of the proposed boardwalk at Phoenix Lake.Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration PlanPublic Access Plan

Figure 5‐4. Example Photographs of Boardwalk Trail Systems.Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration PlanPublic Access Plan

Chapter 5It is anticipated that the Apple Valley Manorseasement and boardwalk portions of the trailsystem could be designed to comply withAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA)accessibility guidelines. More survey and routereconnaissance is needed to determine if theforested sections on the Watson property couldbe designed to meet ADA standards.Educational/Interpretative SignageThe North Marsh trail system would provideexcellent opportunities for environmentaleducation and wildlife viewing. The trail systemcould be used by school groups of diverse agesto educate students about a broad range ofsubjects such as wetlands, water supply,watershed science, and water quality. It isanticipated that educational and interpretativesignage would be located at various pointsalong the trail system (Photo 5‐2).Public Access PlanAs the PLTF pointed out, the boardwalk couldalso be used as an access point for water qualitysampling.Picnic AreaThe most suitable location for a picnic site inthe Apple Valley area would likely be on theCedar Ridge Apple Ranch, near the beginning ofthe boardwalk (Figure 5‐1). This area has someflat ground that is shaded by oak trees. Duringpreliminary discussions with TUD, the propertyowner seemed amenable to development of apicnic area. Provisions would need to be madefor trash disposal and removal. Other suitablepicnic areas may include expanded sections ofthe boardwalk, but this would be more costly toconstruct.ParkingParking for the Apple Valley access area wouldlikely be at the Indigeny Reserve or in a newparking area closer to the lake on the CedarRidge Apple Ranch (Figure 5‐1). From theparking area(s), a trail/road would lead to thelake through oak woodlands. A limited amountof parking may also be available at theintersection of Apple Hill Drive and Phillip LaneTrail.2.2 Phoenix Lake DamPhoto 5‐2. Example of an interpretative sign in Berkeley,California.The Phoenix Lake Dam access point has thepotential to provide diverse recreationalopportunities including fishing, boating,picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Of all the accesspoints considered in this plan, the dam is bestsuited for fishing because of its proximity todeep portions of the lake. Fishing opportunitiesmay include casting from the dam, andpotentially from small, non‐motorized boatslaunched at the dam. The lake‐side of the damis quite steep. Improvements would be needed5‐7

Chapter 5to provide a safe point for launching boats; anypublic access improvements on the dam wouldneed to be approved by the Division of Safety ofDams.Other recreational opportunities at the dammay include a picnic site. The land‐side of thedam has some flat areas that are well‐suited forpicnicking (Photo 5‐3).Public Access Planproperty owners) to accommodate parking anda road/trail. In addition to providing publicaccess, a new road at this location wouldprovide access for sediment removal anddisposal, as well as long‐term maintenanceaccess for TUD. The new road/trail could likelybe constructed with sediment removed fromthe lake.2.3 Boot Area AccessThe Boot Area, located in the southeast portionof the lake, is a desirable location to establishpublic access because of its proximity toPhoenix Lake Road, which is the mostconvenient route for the general public toaccess the lake (Photo 5‐4). Currently, this siteis often used (illegally) as an access point to thelake, as evidenced by a well‐established socialtrail that leads from the road to the lake.Photo 5‐3. Potential picnic area on the land‐side ofPhoenix Lake Dam.The dam also provides a nice vantage point forviewing waterfowl that use open water portionsof the lake.Establishing public access to the dam ispotentially feasible by constructing a road ortrail that connects the dam to Meadow BrookDrive (Figure 5‐1). The TUD owns property onthe land‐side of the dam, and has an easementthat connects the property to Meadow BrookDrive (Figure 5‐2). However, the currentconfiguration of the easement cannotaccommodate a new road, but may be suitablefor a trail. Furthermore, there is no parking atthe end of the Meadow Brook Drive that wouldbe suitable for public access. Thus, to establishpublic access at this location, TUD’s existingeasement would need to be expanded orrealigned (through negotiations with adjacentPhoto 5‐4. Looking toward Phoenix Lake from PhoenixLake Road in the vicinity of the Boot Area.When considered in conjunction with theproposed sediment removal plan, which wouldestablish channels in the Boot Area (See Part IIof Chapter 3), this site could serve as a boatlaunch area. The main constraints toestablishing public access at this location areland ownership, topography and parking.Currently, TUD does not own property or5‐8

Chapter 5Public Access Planeasements in this portion of the lake (Figure 5‐2). There are some undeveloped lots in this areathat are currently for sale. One or more lots oran easement could be acquired by TUD forpublic access. However, much of the landavailable for sale is steep, and it would bedifficult and costly to develop recreationalamenities and parking on these properties.Therefore, public access at this location wouldlikely be limited to a small trail for boatlaunching and wildlife viewing from the marginsof the lake.3.0 SUMMARY & NEXT STEPSThis plan describes three potential sites forestablishing public access to Phoenix Lake.Table 5‐1 summarizes the opportunities andconstraints to establishing access at theselocations, and identifies next steps foradvancing the public access plan. Figure 5‐2identifies properties of interest for acquisitionor easements. Because financial resources todevelop public access amenities are limited,priorities should be placed on the developmentof sites that can serve multiple objectives of thePLPRP (e.g., construction or maintenanceaccess). As such further development of thepublic access plan will be coordinated with, andinfluenced by, other components of the PLPRP.4.0 REFERENCESHolton, Bob. 2011. Phoenix Lake Park was a farfamedresort. The Union Democrat,September 14, 2011.Phoenix Lake Task Force (PLTF). 2009. PublicAccess to Phoenix Lake. December.5‐9

Table 5‐1. Opportunities, Constraints and Next Steps to Establish Public Access to Phoenix Lake.Access Area General Description Key Opportunities Key Constraints Next Steps Potential ProjectPartnersApple ValleyEstablish a trail andboardwalk system through TUD owns an easement to thelake Requires cooperation withprivate landowner(s), or1. Obtain maintenance and public access easements2. Design trail and boardwalk system in Phase II of theCedar Ridge Apple Ranch,Apple Valley ManorCedar Ridge Apple Ranch, Cooperation and interest by purchase of property andPLPRP (includes survey of all areas)developerApple Valley Manoradjacent landownereasements3. Pursue grant funding for design and constructioneasement, and/or TUDproperty. Synergy with access to maintainsediment forebay Access is via Lyons‐BaldMountain Road, which is not asconvenient for the public Costly to develop boardwalksystemPhoenix Lake Dam Establish a trail or road thatconnects TUD property atPhoenix Lake Dam to TUD owns property at the damand an easement to the lakethat is potentially suitable for a Need to develop parking at endof Meadow Brook Drive or onTUD property1. Begin dialogue with property owners to modifyeasement or purchase property2. Survey area for design purposesAdjacent property owners(See Figure 5‐2)Meadow Brook Drive.trail Lack of suitable easement for 3. Design trail/road improvements Site would provide good fishingand picnicking opportunitiesdevelopment of a road Site would provide TUD withlong‐term construction andmaintenance accessBoot AreaEstablish a trail that connectsPhoenix Lake Road to theBoot Area.Convenient location for publicaccessSite would provide a boatlaunchNo TUD easement or propertyLimited parking on Phoenix LakeRoadSteep topography limitsdevelopment of a road, parkingor other amenities1. Begin dialogue with property owner to discuss landacquisition/easement2. Survey area for design purposesProperty owner(s),Tuolumne County

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