Originally built in 1867 the “Swinging Bridge” a.k.a. Mosquito Road Bridge over the South Fork American River has long served as a crucial intersection for avid recreationalists. Paddlers use it as a key take-out for the Class V Slab Creek reach; climbers use it to access a rock wall called Mosquito Coast; cyclist consider it the centerpiece of the Motherlode Century ride; fisherman use it as an access point to cold water fishing and local hikers use it as a quick escape to streamside beauty. Yet a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) recommended removing access at the river and demolishing the bridge once a new $65 million bridge replacement project was completed.
Never a debate of either a new Mosquito Road Bridge or the old Swinging Bridge a coalition of recreational stakeholders dared to ask the question why not both? In response to the DEIR American Whitewater coordinated and wrote comprehensive comments with the help of Outdoor Alliance partner Access Fund, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Friends of the River, Foothill Conservancy, American River Recreation Association, California Outdoors, California Canoe & Kayak, Placerville Bike Shop and other community leaders. The recreation coalition also encouraged submission of over 287 comments in response to El Dorado County’s DEIR which asked the County not to ignore recreational interests.
Responding to constituents County Supervisors Michael Ranalli and Brian Veercamp invited the recreation coalition, BLM and a local land owner to meet with El Dorado County and other stakeholders to find a mutual path forward. Soon thereafter, assured they would have a community partner the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to save the historic “Swinging Bridge” as a pedestrian and cyclist bridge acknowledging the value of El Dorado County’s history and saving recreational assets. You can see the public process in action at the Board of Directors meeting here – Go to item #23 at 2:32:06 in the video.
After a true win – win the recreation coalition now looks forward to working with El Dorado County on a memorandum of understanding that will protect daylight vehicle access to the river, preserve the historical parking for 4 to 6 cars and encourage the County and stakeholders to work together on future parking opportunities on BLM and private land near the bridge.