VIDEO: Eppie’s Great Race contestants prepare for Saturday

The 38th Eppie’s Great Race is set for Saturday morning.  The Sacramento-born triathlon features running, bicycling and kayaking.

The race starts with a 5.8 mile run, 12.5 miles on a bicycle, and 6.4 miles racing on the American River in a kayak.

More than 2,000 people participated in 2010.  A similar crowd is expected this year, and registration remains open until 6:30 the morning of the race, near the starting line at the William Pond Recreation area along the American River.

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Sacramento County supervisors back sales tax increase to fund regional parks

Sacramento County officials on Tuesday agreed to support a sales tax increase to fund the regional park system.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to seek state legislation to allow a November 2012 election for a 0.1 percent sales tax increase.

If approved by two-thirds of county voters, the tax would raise $17 million annually to support the county’s 32 regional parks, including the popular American River Parkway.

Such a tax would add 1 cent to a $10 purchase.

The move came after a four-hour hearing, at which park advocates warned that the state legislative session offers only a small window this summer to move the proposed bill.

There was also general agreement about the desire for a fix before another disastrous county budget cycle next year.

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Sacramento County officials argue against special parks district

Sacramento County executives tomorrow will urge the Board of Supervisors to reject a plan that would shift all of the county’s regional parks into an independent special district.

The proposal by the Grassroots Working Group, a coalition of parks advocates, was requested by county leaders themselves. It calls for a ballot measure in 2012 to create the new district and adopt a one-tenth of a percent sales tax increase to raise $17 million annually for county parks. It was developed after a year of study and a poll of likely voters.

In a staff report for tomorrow’s meeting, however, county officials say the proposal presents legal challenges, and instead want to spend 90 days researching other options.

The debate is fueled by deep budget cuts that have left the county with eight fulltime rangers to protect 32 parks, including the popular American River Parkway. The county also has about 6,000 acres of parkland that have never been opened to the public or have limited access.

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Missing man found safe at home after Sunday river revelry

A man reported missing this morning after becoming separated from friends during Sunday’s “Rafting Gone Wild” event on the American River has been located at his home.

Sacramento County law enforcement officials are still totaling up the numbers of arrests and citations as a result of the social media-spawned event, and parks officials launched but later called off a search today after receiving a missing person report.

John Havicon, ranger supervisor for Sacramento County Regional Parks, said rangers received a call this morning regarding a 28-year-old Roseville man who became separated from friends Sunday on Gilligan’s Island near Hagan Community Park in Rancho Cordova and had not been heard from since. Havicon said he reached the man today at his home. The man said he became separated and made his way home on his own.

The event, which officials estimate drew 3,000 to 6,000 people to the stretch of the American River between Sunrise Boulevard and River Bend Park, was organized largely via Facebook and other social media. It was through monitoring social media that parks officials and law enforcement officials became aware of it and were able to beef up staffing in anticipation of the crowds.

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Eppie’s Great Race looking for volunteers

Eppie’s Great Race, billed as “the world’s oldest ‘no swim’ triathlon,” is desperately seeking volunteers to work at the event this weekend.

Volunteers will receive T-shirts, lunch and free parking, said race spokeswoman Anita Fitzhugh. Hundreds of people are needed for a variety of tasks from setup on Friday to watercraft takeout on Saturday, she said.

The 38th annual event, in which participants run 5.82 miles, cycle 12.5 miles and paddle canoes or kayaks for 6.35 miles along the American River Parkway, will benefit Sacramento County Therapeutic Recreation Services, which offers recreational activities and other opportunities for disabled people.

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VIDEO: Social Media spurs “Rafting Gone Wild” event on American River

It was a calm start but things got a bit rowdy for “Rafting Gone Wild.” Toward the end of the day, firefighters treated one woman hurt from mud-wrestling. Firefighters say one man was rescued from the water who’d apparently consumed too much alcohol and may have been suffering from severe hypothermia.

By the end of the day, a Sacramento County Sheriff’s helicopter helped clear people out of Riverbend Park as deputies and Rancho Cordova Police managed crowd control and broke up several fights.

Katie Kennedy of Concord heard about the event on Facebook and said it became a “must do” event for many young people from as far away as San Jose. “Mud Island always calls for a little bit of mud wrestling. It’s just the way it is. Lotta girls wanna get in on it. Kind of the place to be at the time,” she said, referring to so-called Gilligan’s Island along the river where hundreds of kids gathered to party and even mud wrestle.

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Kayaker airlifted from American River

A New Hampshire man is in serious condition after he was airlifted during a night rescue from the American River.

News of the Tuesday night rescue was released Thursday afternoon by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

At about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, the sheriff’s air support unit was dispatched to a remote area of the American River near Health Springs in the Tahoe National Forest to rescue a kayaker.

Nathan Warren, 27, reportedly landed wrong after a drop from a 30-foot waterfall and “severely injured his back,” according to Lt. Mark Reed with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

“This section of the American River is very remote but attracts extreme kayakers because of its rapids and waterfalls,” Reed said.

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Prescribed burn below Foresthill Bridge rescheduled for Friday

Weather and human resources permitting, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will conduct a prescribed burn under the Foresthill Bridge in Placer County on Friday.

The controlled fire, designed to reduce vegetation that could fuel wildfires, has been postponed twice in recent weeks, first due to unfavorable weather and then because a wildland fire tied up firefighters and equipment needed for the project.

The prescribed burn is to be conducted on 55 acres under the bridge along the middle fork of the American River, approximately one mile northeast of Auburn.

The primary purpose is to reduce hazardous fuel below the Foresthill Bridge, allowing Placer County to safely perform seismic retrofit activities on the bridge, according to a Cal Fire news release.

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Sewer pipe used as bridge on Carmichael trail to be blocked

A popular nature trail along Arcade Creek in Carmichael is about to become a little more difficult to access.

For decades, nature lovers and hikers on the Jo Smith Nature Trail have crossed over a sewer pipe that spans Arcade Creek near American River College.

Students who live nearby also use the crossing to get to the college.

“I just want to see it left open,” neighbor and avid hiker Siobhan Hutton said. “It’s beautiful, many people enjoy it, many people use it to go to school, I would just like to see it left open. I haven’t seen it harm anybody.”

When the pipe was installed in the 1960’s, railings were attached for safety reasons. The railings have been gone for years.

The Sacramento Area Sewer District owns the pipe and has decided the crossing is dangerous and will fence it off next month.

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