Settlement reached in
Nisene Marks lawsuit
Bicyclists may use
According to a settlement
reached in April between Citizens for the Preservation of the Forest
of Nisene Marks State Park and California State Parks, bicyclists
will be able to use the Aptos Creek Fire Road. Potential loss of the
use of the fire road prompted settlement negotiations between State
Parks and Citizens for the Preservation of the Forest of Nisene Marks.
As reported in The Ventana,
the December 10 ruling by Superior Court Judge Judy Holzer Hersher
banned mountain bikes in the portion of the park dedicated by the
Marks family as a violation of the Marks family's wishes as stipulated
in the deed. The ruling did not include an exception for the fire
The settlement requires
State Parks to revise the General Plan in accordance with the court's
interpretation of the deed, honoring the Marks family's wishes that
the deeded portions of the park be "preserved for all time
as a natural preserve" and the land use "limited to camping,
nature study, hiking, and associated activities." The settlement
lays out the compromise as follows: "With the exception of
the Aptos Creek Fire Road, the General Plan may not authorize bikes
on the Dedicated Property."
By agreeing to the settlement,
State Parks chose not to appeal the judge's decision, and the Citizens
for the Preservation of the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park agreed
to allow mountain bikes on the Aptos Creek Fire Road.
The Santa Cruz Group
of the Sierra Club actively participated in this issue by taking
a firm position against the adoption of the General Plan for Nisene
Marks as originally drafted by State Parks because of the many inadequacies
of the plan.
Attorneys for State Parks
argued that the Marks family's deeds had expired because they had
not been extended after 30 years. The judge's decision against that
argument offers assurance to future land donors that the state will
not be able to circumvent donors' wishes for how their generous
gifts of land are to be used.
In reviewing the settlement,
Santa Cruz Group of the Sierra Club expressed satisfaction with
the final outcome and the assurance it offers to future land donors
that their wishes will be followed. "If the wishes of the donors
could easily be ignored, donations of special land will likely become
few and far between," said Bill Parkin, attorney for the plaintiffs.
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