MCBC Trail Success Hunt Camp Trail Volunteers Build Needed Reroutes
As part of the proposal to adopt Hunt Camp Trail in the Giacomini Open Space preserve for hikers and bikers, Marin County Open Space District identified two reroutes to avoid sensitive habitats and address user safety. To help implement this work, Open Space reached out to Volunteers for Outdoor California (V-O-Cal), a Bay Area based nonprofit that provides a volunteer workforce for large-scale trail maintenance and construction projects, habitat restoration, and related land stewardship activities on public lands in partnership with public agencies and other nonprofit organizations. It was the first time MCBC has been involved in a V-O-Cal event and we were very impressed.
The weekend began with an orientation on Friday evening at a private ranch in the San Geronimo Valley, where volunteers from Marin and the greater Bay Area learned about the project, the tools we’d be using and the sensitive nature of the work area. Volunteers got to camp out at the ranch and woke up to breakfast and a rush of local volunteers on Saturday morning.Over 70 volunteers, V-O-Cal crew leaders and Open Space trail staff loaded into vans for the short drive to the job site.
The volunteers were broken up into eleven work groups. Six got to work on the lower reroute and the other five headed up to the upper reroute. The lower crews built a beautiful narrow trail through a Redwood and Douglas Fir forest. The new trail avoids a habitat of rare Mount Tamalpais Manzanita and will allow for the decommission of a steep segment that has degraded over the years, leaving a visible scar on the ridgeline. Clippings and dead snags were collected and stashed to help with the future decommission of the rerouted trail segments.
There were so many aspects of the weekend that were special, the biggest reward for many was watching the smiles on the faces of happy high school kids while building a new trail. Enthusiastic and knowable trail volunteers from all over the Bay Area bonded while creating robust new trails. The diverse group was made up of hikers, bikers, trail runners and equestrians who all share a love for trails, and not a word was heard about trail conflict or access issues.
One volunteer called out what he thought was the best section of new trail – because he had just built it! Another from the East Bay said that in his backyard Marin is seen as a leader in advancing new trail projects.
V-O-Cal’s team came to the weekend very organized and ready to motivate. Open Space handed out beautiful custom Hunt Camp t-shirts as a thank you gift to the volunteers. The trail segments we built are exceptional and everyone took pride in their work.
Petition Postpones Project Completion
The project also calls for the construction of an extension trail and the decommission of over a mile of nearby redundant social trail, but that work is postponed due to a legal petition filed by Marin Conservation League, California Native Plant Society’s Marin Chapter and Marin Audubon Society.
We consider it unfortunate that, after four years of working together with other stakeholders on developing the Marin County Open Space District’s Road and Trail Management Plan and PEIR, these groups have taken a position against this project which has been transparently conceived, publicly vetted and seeks to achieve the goals of the plan.
We believe that those opposed to the project are ignoring its environmental gains, including the decommission of 6,000 feet of redundant trail that fragments sensitive habitats. The trail has been enjoyed by hikers and bikers for decades. These enhancements will in fact reduce impacts, not increase them.
Most importantly, their petition threatens to invalidate the time and resources invested by the many citizens who have participated in a robust public process toward the adoption of this project.
Open Space is continuing work on the main trail corridor, which should be officially open next spring after a short, one-time closure as part of a new trail seasoning process. We anticipate additional Hunt Camp Trail days this fall to buff out the new trail segments and address drainage issues on the adopted alignment. Signs at the top and bottom of the trail state that “staff will maintain the existing rugged character of the trail as much as possible”, a view appreciated by MCBC and those familiar with the trail.
Read MCBC’s comment letter on the Hunt Camp Trail proposal and watch for an upcoming field trip to learn about the measures being taken to avoid impacting and fragmenting sensitive habitats and to assure the trail lasts for future generations.