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Couch's Corner: BVARA and Kern River Parkway Bike Trail connected

Kern County has many jewels, places and things for which we can be proud. Two of them are the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area (BVARA) and Kern River Parkway Bike Trail. Back in 2013, when I was a new Supervisor, BVARA was in District 4 as was much of the bike trail. It seemed appropriate to try to connect them and to enhance both assets. So I discussed this with the Public Works Department, they started the conversation with the other stakeholders, most notably the Kern Council of Governments (KernCog), and just like that, it was done.

Ok, actually it took 9 years but I’m so happy to announce that this Thursday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m., we will finally be celebrating the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the BVARA Entrance. The public is invited, and you might want to bring your bike, as there will be an inaugural bike ride to follow.

It took a while, and it may not seem like much, but these 6.3 miles of new bike trail took a tremendous amount of planning and involved multi-agency cooperation. The path required that we cross under an interstate highway and bypass a racetrack, faced challenging environmental and right-of-way hurdles, and it included stake holders like the Kern Wheelmen and Bike Bakersfield. It took Kern County ingenuity to figure out how to fund this effort primarily using Caltrans funding obtained through KernCog and not our local general fund tax dollars. And it took patience, as COVID and labor shortages lengthened the time it took to build this trail.

If you’ve been to the bike path, you know that this trail is used by so many families and athletes, whether they’re walking, jogging, riding, skating or even pushing a stroller. Events include moonlight bike rides, family events, walk-a-thons, and so forth, and next to the trail businesses, restaurants, and parks have become magnets for people to gather, work and play. Extending this jewel to Buena Vista will help add to the activity along the trail and the entertainment value is increased that much more. Families have been enjoying BVARA for a long time, driving their families, friends, RVs, boats and jet skis to the park. Now they can ride there too.

Programs like this are encouraged by KernCog and the elected officials that make up this body and show how we as a County and all our local jurisdictions can work together for all. Bike trails help to reduce traffic congestion, clean the air, and promote health and wellness for those who use it. This bike trail is already recognized as one of the best in the state, and with these additional 6.3 miles, it’ll be that much better. It’s encouraging when people like KernCog Executive Director Ahron Hakimi and all the members of KernCog can help the County get projects like this funded and completed. I am thankful for people like Yolanda Alcantar, Sam Lux, and Michael Dillenbeck from the County’s Public Works Department, who were a great help to move this project along.

Susanne Campbell, Regional Planner, KernCog, who was instrumental as well, had this to add: “People can now ride their bikes all the way from Lake Ming to Buena Vista Lake for recreation, and I would encourage us all to ride our bikes between these lakes, from home to work or play, to reduce traffic, improve air quality, and improve our overall health.”

If you have any questions about this or any District 4 matter, don’t hesitate to contact us at 661-868-3680 or email us at [email protected]. Have a safe week.


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