Volunteers Transform Illegal Encampments into Welcoming Public Places

Many of you know I was a long time resident of Northern California, a place of beauty and many natural wonders that still holds a special place in my heart. The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote that was recently published online about one of these remarkable public places and the trials and transformations it’s gone through.

A cleared section of Lower Diestelhorst Open Space is once again available for visitors to enjoy

With wildfires and smoke threatening the north state and beyond, it’s easy to forget the natural wonders in the middle of Redding (California). Those of us who’ve meandered our river trails recognize these as crown jewels.

Among these is the land on the north and south sides of the Diestelhorst Bridge. Many have enjoyed its paved paths, but few know the hidden trails of what’s called Lower Diestelhorst Open Space – the long-overgrown area between the Union Pacific Railroad trestle and the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District (A.C.I.D.) intake.

Dr. Randy Smith, Redding’s champion of open spaces, does. For years, he has voluntarily spearheaded clean-up efforts to keep open spaces passable for all to enjoy.

The City of Redding has owned Lower Diestelhorst and the surrounding property since the late 1970s. The eastern and western portions were purchased from descendants of the Diestelhorst family, who had owned it since 1858. Originally prime farm land, the property boasted a producing orchard and vineyard for more than 100 years. The now-defunct Auto Camp replaced these.

Cattle once grazed on the Lower Diestelhorst property. When they were removed, the grass and everything down to the river side of the access road was overrun by blackberry and impenetrable weeds.

To learn more about the transformation of this beautiful public space and the people who are making it happen, click here.

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