Lawsuits seek access to now-gated Amador Lane near Pine Grove

Photo by Katherin Evatt: View from Upper Standard Canal Trail, Spring 2017

Since the 1930s, local residents and visitors have used Amador Lane to reach the back of Lake Tabeaud and the nearby Upper Standard Canal trailhead south of Highway 88 near Pine Grove. PG&E holds easements along the entire road. In the past, the western end of the road was lightly traveled for the most part, as most people reached the area by driving across the Lake Tabeaud Dam.

However, with the advent of new Department of Homeland Security rules, PG&E was required to block vehicles from crossing the dam, and erected gates to block vehicles in 2017. That action led to a major increase in vehicle traffic on the west end of Amador Lane, off Clinton Road.

Unhappy with the increased traffic, a local homeowner constructed several gates on the road and in summer 2017, locked them and closed Amador Lane to public access.

Local property owners who used Amador Lane to reach their homes and properties subsequently sued, seeking a temporary injunction to restore their road access. That motion was denied by Amador County Superior Court Judge Renee Day. Several of the landowners have continued their lawsuits, and local attorney Patrick Keene of Jackson has also filed a legal action to re-open the road to full public access.

Foothill Conservancy has an interest in this issue because PG&E is required to provide public access to the lands and waters within its hydroelectric project boundaries. While people can still walk, ride horses, or bicycle to the back of Lake Tabeaud and the trailhead, those not capable of using those means of transportation are now prevented from enjoying the lake, fishing its inlet, and hiking the nearby trail.

If you used Amador Lane to reach the back of Lake Tabeaud or the Upper Standard Canal prior to 1972, we need to hear from you, especially if you are willing to make a formal statement regarding your use of the road. Please contact Carolyn at our office at 209-223-3508 or e-mail her if you can help. If you know of others who used the road before 1972, please share this information and encourage them to contact us.

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Leslie Smith, Sutter Creek, CA: Raised in Washington State, Leslie is a happy California transplant having moved to Sunny Sutter Creek full time in 2020. As a nascent fly fisher and lifelong skier, she is committed to the natural environment and brings extensive organizational and finance experience to the board from a nearly 40 year career in banking.