The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) and its Yuba Expeditions’ employees and volunteers celebrated the opening of their new “world” headquarters near Gansner Field Airport on May 17 with thankful hearts and a whole lot more on the agenda.
SBTS is a nonprofit made up of outfitters, guides and trail supporters that build and maintain multiple-use trails in the Sierra Buttes, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen National Forests. The stewardship is now located in the former Plumas Corporation building at 550 Crescent St. just outside of downtown Quincy and many of its employees live in town.
“We bring mountain bike riders from all over the world here to ride through some of the most beautiful country they’ve ever seen and we encourage them to do multiple-day adventures to explore Plumas County, patronize the local businesses, stay here, go to Bucks Lake and so much more,” said SBTS Executive Director Greg Williams.
His enthusiasm for local trails and outdoor recreation is contagious.
“Yes, I’m the founder of all this craziness,” Williams said with humor, adding that he has been a resident of Sierra and Plumas counties for 30 years.
SBTS and its adventure-center Yuba Expeditions business have enjoyed a 10-year partnership with the Plumas National Forest, one designed to build both economic and recreational resources for Quincy and the surrounding region.
“We want local residents to enjoy these multiple-use trails and we want to attract both visitors and new residents because these recreational opportunities are world class,” Williams said.
PNF Public Affairs Officer Lee Anne Schramel agreed with Williams about the value of the shared approach of their partnership.
“Our vision for the PNF is a trails system we and others can build and maintain over time,” she said.
By trails system, she said, the forest service means walking, bicycling, horseback riding, motorcycle single-track and other off-highway vehicle trails.
“Not all of them will coexist on the same surface, so it will take some negotiating,” she added. “We’re pleased to be partnering with the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship to accomplish that vision.”
Williams explained the SBTS organization began with his Yuba Expeditions bicycle shop 27 years ago in Downieville, shuttling riders to the top of the Downieville Downhill for exhilarating rides. The shop is still in operation and last year, 7,400 riders came to test their skills.
In Quincy, the nonprofit takes most visitors to Mt. Hough “because of its network of world-class trails,” Williams said.
The partnership that SBTS and Yuba Expeditions enjoy with PNF allows them to operate under special use permits and hold guide and outfitter permits for the Plumas National Forest.
“None of that would happen without our partnership with PNF,” Executive Director Williams explained. “We’ve worked on a lot of projects with them for a long time and we would like to see our economic model thrive and attract (even more) visitors to this area.”
Toward that end, SBTS and Yuba Expeditions sponsor many trail-building and maintenance projects throughout the region. Last year, they hosted 1,342 volunteers in service to these efforts. Soon, they’ll be hiring crews for summer 2019.
“We will be hosting barbecues and community nights at our new headquarters,” Williams suggested. “We need volunteers for all of our events and trail projects. We want to let people know about these opportunities. The new facility is a good space for us to work on projects with the forest service, too.”
The organization is also known for its wildly popular “epic” bike tours and races. The next ones coming up are the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder on June 1 for 1,500 riders in Portola around Lake Davis and the 24th annual Downieville Classic Mountain Bike Race for 1,140 people Aug. 1-4. See www.sierratrails.org for more information.
Riders of all abilities come for the races, Williams said, from families and youth to skilled endurance riders and seniors who love the sport. In September, SBTS will host the Grinduro for 1,000 riders who will start at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds in Quincy and ride a loop of up to 63 miles, including a stop in Taylorsville.
Williams said outdoor recreation is a multibillion-dollar business worldwide.
“It’s so beautiful here,” he added. “The trails are high quality and they are built to be enjoyable and sustainable, to take you to some of the most beautiful places you’ve ever been to.”
The SBTS leader commented that trail stewardship includes helping people understand the importance of forest management. He said visitors who come for the races and rides are interested in education about healthy forests, why they need to be managed properly.
“Visitors who come here from the cities don’t know anything about this,” Williams noted. “Outdoor recreation makes them ask questions about the environment.”
Partnering with PNF also helps the trails program to provide positive assistance with forest management and fuel reduction. SBTS is able to offer trail design, layout and mapping services.
“This can cut costs for everybody,” Williams remarked. “It’s really helpful.”
SBTS has built nearly 80 miles of trails to date, maintained 800 miles’ worth, and devoted 72,000 volunteer hours to trail projects in the Lost Sierra.
Some members of the organization have traveled and biked the world and they are currently Quincy residents with a passion for racing and building trails. Henry O’Donnell comes to mind, Williams said.
Another employee, Mandy Beatty, is also very involved with the local community. As the SBTS trail program manager, she works with Plumas Unified School District on education projects and coordinates youth crews and volunteers on trail work.
As of last summer, the organization had grown to 46 people, including full-time employees and student trail crews. So far this year, they’re holding at about 20 staff and will ramp up with the anticipated hiring of youth trail crew members.
“Our open house had 75 people at it, lots of locals and followers of the stewardship as well as a lot of first-timers to Quincy,” Williams said. “They will definitely be back! They’re excited to come to our town and have access to really great trails.”