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Ridge Lines Newsletter, Summer 2003 ~ Bay Area Ridge Trail Council

Ridge Lines Newsletter, Summer 2003 ~ Bay Area Ridge Trail Council

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his spring the Bay Area RidgeTrail Council joined with Cali-fornia State Parks and the SanFrancisco Bay Trail to celebrate theopening of a new multi-use Ridge Trailsegment in the Benicia State Recre-ation Area. The two-mile trail alongthe Carquinez Strait is also the routeof the Bay Trail; it is located just eastof the Carquinez Bridge on the DillonPoint Peninsula and offers tremendousviews of the strait and the East BayHills. Although the trail opened in thespring, the formal dedication will nottake place until September 27 (see
Outings & Upkeep
). Save the date!California State Parks, which ownsand manages the recreation area, oversawthe planning, design, and constructionof the trail. The RidgeTrail Council’s NorthBay Trail DirectorDee Swanhuysernotes, “Special thanksgo to State ParksSilverado DistrictMaintenance Chief Lorrie Thomas-Dossett,who shepherded thepaperwork and jumpedover a myriad of hurdlesto get final approvalfor the project; toState Parks Mainte-nance Chief DonBeers, who designedthe trail; and to StateParks MaintenanceWorker Toni McRorie,who helped managethe trail’s construc-tion. They dedicated a tremendousamount of time to this project.” Mostof the trail was built by the Tahoe Cal-ifornia Conservation Corps and StateParks Sierra District trail crew supervi-sors; Sierra District MaintenanceChief Karl Knapp was particularlyhelpful. Construction of the two-miletrail occurred in record time—in lessthan two months!“There were times when wethought the project wouldn’t happen,”says Lorrie Thomas-Dossett. “We hadto be creative and determined to keepthe trail project moving forwardthrough the regulatory constraints.Because all of the funders kept theirfaith and Dee Swanhuyser stayed posi-tive, we made the project work. It is
In 1990 Congress passed theAmericans with Disabilities Act,opening a world of possibilities forpeople with disabilities. The actcreated standards for a wide vari-ety of facilities such as restrooms,parking spaces, and buildingentrances. Applying the law torecreational trails has been moredifficult, but over the years, trailconstruction experts and disabilityadvocates have worked togetherto determine how to apply stan-dards to trails. While standardshave not been set, CaliforniaState Parks has been a leader increating design guidelines thatmake trails more accessible topeople with a range of abilities.The agency’s approach has beento remove obstacles that preventpeople from using trails withoutimpacting the natural setting. Formore information on the efforts tomake recreational trails more uni-versally accessible, please visitparks.ca.gov.While the steep slopes andrough terrain of many Ridge Trailsegments make them moderatelydifficult to use, there are severalsegments that are fully accessible.Visit the other Ridge Trail seg-ments built to meet ADAstandards, including Fort Fun-ston’s Sunset Trail, Tilden Park’sNimitz Trail from InspirationPoint, and Coyote Creek Parkwayin San Jose. The southern portionof the Fifield-Cahill Road withinthe Crystal Springs Watershed,expected to open later this year, isalso being improved by the SanFrancisco Public Utilities Com-mission so it will be fullyaccessible to people with mobilityimpairments.
-Holly Van Houten
now a beautiful trail withincredible views.”California State Parks,which has been a leader indesigning trails and parks to accommo-date all users, built the trail toAmericans with Disabilities Act(ADA) standards for people who usemobility assisted devices (canes,crutches, and wheelchairs), both man-ual and motorized. The trail is mostlyfive feet wide and has a hardenedaggregate surface that makes it easierfor people with disabilitiesto use thetrail. In addition, State Parks designedand installed accommodating benchesand tables, constructed educational dis-plays, removed non-native plants, andinstalleda native plant garden adjacentto the trail.The trail could not have been builtwithout the generous support of manypartners. The following organizationscontributed funding to the $346,000project: the Trust for Public Land($186,000); the Bay Trail ($100,000);the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council($30,000); and State Parks ($30,000 inkind). The California Coastal Conser-vancy provided funding fromProposition 12 for both the Bay AreaRidge Trail and Bay Trail grants.The seven-mile stretch of trail fromthe Carquinez Bridge to the BeniciaBridge is unique because it is a sharedtrail between the Ridge Trail and theBay Trail. Both regional trails plan toeventually cross both bridges. The newbridge being built on Interstate 80 isdesigned to accommodate both pedes-trians and bicyclists when it iscompleted. Aside from also sharing aroute across the Golden Gate Bridge,this is the only alignment in the entireBay Area shared by both regional trails.The entire Ridge Trail segmentalong the Carquinez Strait has a lot tooffer—the city of Benicia, fantasticviews of the strait, and the naturalbeauty of the state recreation area. If you live anywhere in the Bay Area, it’sdefinitely worth the visit.
-Elizabeth Byers
Directions to the trail: From I-80 take I-780 to theBenicia State Recreation Area exit. From theentrance to the recreation area, a paved roadheads west and skirts the wetlands and the westernshore of Southampton Bay. Look for the trailheadon your right as you approach Dillon Point.
Ridge Lines
Benicia Trail Opens
Project partners from the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, California State Parks, Trust for Public Land,Coastal Conservancy, Bay Trail, and California Conservation Corps meet during the trail’s construction.Top center: The Dillon Point Peninsula from across the strait, before the trail was built. Top right: Christo- pher Rojas, State Parks equipment operator from the Sierra District, builds the trail. Top photos by DeeSwanhuyser. Map by Ben Pease.
County. For many years she served asco-chair of the county committee andhelped dedicate the trail in Ed LevinCounty Park and Joseph D. GrantCounty Park. She enjoyed working withthe council’s dedicated board and staff.
a landscapearchitect and Marin County resident,started volunteering for the Bay AreaRidge Trail in 1987 when the NationalPark Service managed the project. Inthose early days he served on the tech-nical advisory committee, whichestablished design guidelines for thetrail and produced a sign manual.Doug even designed the Ridge Trailsigns! When the Ridge Trail incorpo-rated as a nonprofit, Doug was afounding board member. He thenserved on the gap committee (which isnow the trail committee), and willcontinue to be involved in helping tocomplete the trail.At the Ridge Trail Council’sMarch board of directors meeting, theboard re-elected its current slate of officers: Bill Long, chair; Mary Burns,vice chair; John Harrington, treasurer;and Michael Kelley, secretary. Thanksto Bill, Mary, John, and Michael fortheir years of dedicated service andtheir ongoing commitment!
Camp Near the Ridge Trail!
You may think of the Ridge Trailas a daytime destination, but you’d besurprised at the number of campgroundsand trail camps in parks where theRidge Trail is located. GreenInfo Net-work and
 Bay Nature
magazinerecently published a Bay Area mapthat highlights the Ridge Trail, as wellas campgrounds and trail camps onpublic open-space lands. More than 20campgrounds are located near theRidge Trail. Check out this new mapand plan your Ridge Trail campingexperience! To obtain the map, pick up the April-June 2003 issue of 
 Bay Nature
or visit GreenInfo’s web site atgreeninfo.org for ordering information.For an interactive guide to camping youcan also visit the Bay Area Open SpaceCouncil’s web site at openspacecouncil.org.This online map enables you to zoominto a subregion, which highlights nearbycampgrounds. By clicking on a camp-ground, you can obtain detailed writteninformation on the park and its campsitesand view a slide show of the park.
Ridge Trail AdvocatesFeatured in Book
Shepherd Canyon Booksrecently announced therelease of 
We’re in the Mountains, Not Over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Sea-soned Women Backpackers,
by RidgeTrail member Susan Alcorn. The book is a collection of stories about womenin the prime of their lives, from 40 toover 80, who continue to challengethemselves on the trail. Ridge Trailvolunteer and hike leader Doris Kleinis featured in the book, as well as IreneCline, the oldest woman to walk theAppalachian Trail; Emma Gatewood,the first woman, at age 67, to walk thelength of the Appalachian Trail; andLaurie Foot, the first woman over 45to hike and bike the American Dis-covery Trail. For information on howto order the book visit backpack.comor call 510-339-3441. If you want toexperience Doris in action, join her onan upcoming outing on June 1 or Sep-tember 20 (see
Outings & Upkeep
Ridge Trail CouncilProjects Funded
In April the Coastal Conservancyapproved four Ridge Trail constructiongrants. The grants are funded byProposition 12, the state park bondthat provided $3.48 million in fundingfor Ridge Trail-related projects. TheBay Area Conservancy Program of theCoastal Conservancy administers thepark bond monies by approving andmaking grants to the council. In turn,the council makes grants to its partneragencies and organizations.
Almaden Quicksilver Staging Areaand Trail Improvements:
A $130,000 grant to the Santa ClaraCounty Parks Department will fundthe construction of a new stagingarea at Almaden Quicksilver CountyPark, as well as trail and signageimprovements. The staging area willprovide parking for 25 cars and 7horse trailers, and will haverestrooms and picnic tables. Fourmiles of Ridge Trail traverse the4,000-acre park and with theseimprovements, the trail will now beaccessible to all three trail-user groups.
Sierra Azul Staging Area:
A $60,000 grant to the MidpeninsulaRegional Open Space District willfund the construction of a new stag-ing area at Sierra Azul Open SpacePreserve located across from AlmadenQuicksilver County Park. The stagingarea will have restroom facilities andprovide parking for 14 cars. Theimprovements will include creating asafe road crossing between the twoparks. An 11-mile Ridge Trail seg-ment is planned for the 15,000-acreSierra Azul Open Space Preserve.
Crockett Hills Staging Area
: A$100,000 grant to the East BayRegional Parks District will fundconstruction of a staging area formulti-use access to the district’sC&H Sugar property in the City of Crockett in Contra Costa County.The district will match this grantwith its own funds. The 1,300-acreoak woodland/grassland property is just south of the Carquinez Bridgeand east of Interstate 80, and is notcurrently accessible to the public. A4.5-mile segment of the Ridge Trailwill be routed through the propertywhen the staging area and trailimprovements are completed.
Petaluma River Trail
: A $120,000grant to the City of Petaluma willfund the design and construction of a new section of the Ridge Trailalong the Petaluma River. This isthe first phase of a multi-year projectto realign the trail route off citystreets onto the Petaluma RiverTrail. The grant funds the first seg-ment of the eventual two-mile RidgeTrail segment.
New Board Members,Board Departures
The Bay Area Ridge Trail Councilis pleased to welcome three new boardmembers: Thomas Beck, Kathy Blume,and Frank Morris.
a native of Texas, moved to the Bay Area fiveyears ago after spending more than tenyears working for the Union Bank of Switzerland in London and Zurich.Thomas joined a Peninsula Watershedhike two years ago and has been acounty committee member and hikeleader ever since. He will also chairthe council’s outreach committee.
is a lifelong hikerand lover of the outdoors, and cur-rently leads hikes on the King andSwett Ranches in Solano County thatwill soon have a segment of the RidgeTrail. Kathy retired after a 20-yearcareer in the U.S.Air Force thatincluded stints inSoutheast Asiaand Europe. Sheplays the cello,and every week plays chambermusic with friendsand also plays inthe local community symphony. Kathyhas been active with the library foun-dation and her homeownersassociation.
is a Bay Areanative and enjoys being involved withcommunity-oriented projects thatshare a vision of preserving open spaceand promoting natural resource con-servation. He isemployed as asenior waterresources special-ist with theSolano CountyWater Agencyand has workedon water qualityand water resource issues for over 25years. He is presently vice president of the Solano Land Trust’s board and hasserved as a board member of theGreen Valley Landowners Associationfor over ten years. He enjoys hiking,boating, and exploring new regionsand habitats.The council says goodbye to threeboard members and thanks them fortheir many years of dedicated service:Mim Carlson, Judy Etheridge, andDoug Nelson.
served on theboard for seven years and during thistime was a member of the governance,strategic planning, and executive com-mittees. A hiker from Contra CostaCounty, Mim is a leadership consul-tant for nonprofits; she currentlyserves as an interim executive director.Mim led the search effort for theRidge Trail Council’s executive direc-tor in 2001 and early 2002.
is an avidequestrian who served on the RidgeTrail board since 1995. She now lives inthe East Bay but during most of herboard tenure she lived in Santa Clara2
Dear Friends,Thank you for making last year such a special one for the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. On a personal level, it marked my first year as the new executive director, but more importantly it marked our 15th anniversary year. This past year again proved the rule—your ongoing generous support enables us to make great progress at completing the region’s premier long-distance trail. And in completing the Ridge Trail, we also preserve, pro- tect, and connect some very special open spaces along the way.In a year when staying close to home to enjoy one’s family and friends seemed ever more important, thousands of Ridge Trail Council members and volunteers  joined together to make a positive difference in their communities. By constructinnew segments of trail, protecting open lands along the ridgeline for a future trail,convincing local officials that trails are indeed very important for our health, well- ness, and wellbeing, and exposing schoolchildren to a trail for the first time in their lives, we’re leading the way toward a more connected and livable Bay Area.I hope you will take a moment to review this annual report to see the many suc- cesses you have made possible. We could not create and protect the Bay Area Ridge Trail without you. Thanks for all your support, encouragement, and involvement.We’ll keep up the good work and be sure to stay in touch as together we preserve the best of the Bay Area for future generations.Happy Trails,Holly Van Houten 
Executive Director
Big Rock Trail Opens
On April 1, the Marin County OpenSpace District opened the Big Rock Trail tothe public. The trail will be dedicated this fall.This new three-mile multi-use trail off Lucas Val-ley Road in San Rafael is a critical segment of theRidge Trail that climbs to Big Rock Ridge. Anunderpass is also planned for Lucas Valley Road,which will connect the Big Rock Trail with the new 2.5-mile Loma Alta Trail tothe south, dedicated in 2001. On June 21, two outings are scheduled on the trail.This is an opportunity to hear about how the project came together from twoinsiders—John Aranson, who constructed the trail for the district before comingto work for the Ridge Trail Council, and Steve Kinsey, Marin County supervisorand Ridge Trail board member (see
Outings & Upkeep
). Stay tuned for more infor-mation about this trail in a future issue!
 Above: Trail users in Almaden Quicksilver County Park can learn mining history. Themine’s dust precipitators cooled the fumes and reduced the amount of ash and vapor that escaped into the air while the ore was heated tocondense into mercury. Photo by JohnFalkowski, Santa Clara County Parks Depart-ment. Below: The C&H Sugar property will feature a segment of the Ridge Trail and be opento the public in the near future. Photo courtesy of the East Bay Regional Park District.The entrance to the new Big Rock Trail. Photo by Chris Bramham, Marin County Open Space District.
Kathy BlumeFrank Morris
Accomplishmentsin 2002
Thanks to your support, last yearthe Bay Area Ridge Trail Councilmade significant progress toward itsgoals of dedicating new trails, preserv-ing the ridgelines, gaining access toprivate lands, and getting people moreinvolved with the trail.
Last year was an amazing year forcompleting sections of the Ridge Trail.We had five ribbon-cutting dedications,adding nearly eight miles of new trail tobring the total dedicated miles to 234.The 1.5 mile
Boccardo Trail,
east of San Jose, opened in May; this wasour first partnership with the SantaClara County Open Space Author-ity. The trail provides access to theauthority’s newly acquired 534-acreproperty, and extends the trail sys-tem in Alum Rock City Park up tothe ridgeline overlooking San Jose.The 2.2-mile
Sonoma Ridge Trail
opened in August and extends the trailsystem within Jack London State His-toric Park. The new trail realigned asection of old trail and added a com-pletely new section through a parcelpreviously owned by the SonomaDevelopmental Center. The trail con-struction was overseen by LandPaths, aSonoma-based nonprofit, which usedCalifornia Conservation Corps crewsand countless hours of volunteer laborto complete the project.The
Brookside Trail
opened in Octo-ber in Marin County. While only aquarter mile in length, this is a particu-larly critical trail for local equestriansto access the Mount Burdell OpenSpace Preserve from nearby stables.With this new trail segment, the RidgeTrail now continues for 10.5 milesfrom Indian Tree Open Space Preserveto the top of Mount Burdell. TheMarin County Open Space Districtmanages the trail.The 3.5-mile
Lynch Canyon Trail
opened in November on the SolanoLand Trust’s 1,039-acre LynchCanyon Open Space. The dedicationoccurred ten years after the land trustobtained an option to purchase theproperty and protect it from becom-ing a landfill.In June, a new 1.5-mile community-connector trail opened. The
River-to-Ridge Trail
that links the SanFrancisco Bay Trail to the RidgeTrail segment in Napa’s SkylineWilderness Park. Managed by theSkyline Park Citizens Association,the trail provides greater access tothe park.
Securing new lands for long-termprotection is key to the eventual comple-tion of the Ridge Trail. In 2002, ourbehind-the-scenes efforts for grant fund-ing helped protect the following areas:California State Parks added 600acres of land to Jack London StateHistoric Park by acquiring ridgelineproperty from the Sonoma Develop-mental Center. The new SonomaRidge Trail segment is routedthrough this parcel.
The Midpeninsula Regional OpenSpace District acquired two privateinholdings in Sierra Azul Open SpacePreserve, which are critical to com-pleting an 11-mile section of the RidgeTrail through the preserve.The Santa Clara County OpenSpace Authority acquired the 62-acre Aoki property, which protects aprominent property on San Jose’seastern ridgeline between AlumRock Park and Joseph D. GrantCounty Park.
With some 150 miles of private lands to cross, theRidge Trail Council hasfocused on reaching out tolandowners along the pro-posed route to encouragetheir participation in the trail. InMay we successfully signed ourfirst agreement with a landowner inMarin County that provides publictrail access across private lands. Wewill have a dedication ceremony laterin 2003; in the meantime, this newsection is being managed by the coun-cil’s staff and volunteers. We also laidthe groundwork for new trail access in2003 by making substantial progress inour negotiations with another half-dozen landowners.
For many years we have workedclosely with public park agencies tocomplete new trails that will form theRidge Trail. With much of that work completed, we have been turning ourattention to public lands that are notmanaged for public access, specificallythe various watershed lands owned byutility districts.This year we finally convinced theSan Francisco Public Utilities Com-mission to provide ongoing public trailaccess to the Peninsula Watershedridgeline; our outreach efforts weresuccessful when commission membersunanimously voted in support of trailaccess at their December meeting.In 2002, we also began efforts toprovide access to the Pinole Water-shed in Contra Costa County and theMilliken and Rector Reservoirs inNapa County.
It often takes many years to get apublic agency to agree to constructnew sections of trail; a great deal of time is spent identifying and resolv-ing environmental issues that couldblock the new trail section. We helpedlay the groundwork for the followingtrail sections:
Historic Feeder Trail #1:
Workedwith Contra Costa County and theEast Bay Regional Park District toresolve legal access issues in thisFranklin Ridge trail.
Coyote Lake-Bear Ranch CountyPark:
Worked with the Santa ClaraCounty Parks Department to determinehow access and trail use would be incor-porated into the park’s master plan.
Harry Dean Trail:
Assisted in thepreparation of a trail master plan forthis Pacifica trail.
Rector RidgeTrail:
Surveyed theRector Reservoir property in NapaCounty for archeological and historicalresources and completed a plant surveyfor the Department of Fish and Game.We also provided technical assis-tance throughout the region onrouting and constructing the RidgeTrail so it can provide access to allthree trail user groups.
We awarded $324,000 in grants toour public agency partners from Propo-sition 12 funds. Once we have grantedall these park bond funds in mid-2003,we will have provided nearly $2 millionto our partners, leading to the eventualcompletion of over 50 miles of dedi-cated Ridge Trail. The grant recipientsinclude the East Bay Regional Park Dis-trict, LandPaths, Marin County OpenSpace District, Midpeninsula RegionalOpen Space District, Santa ClaraCounty Open Space Authority, andSanta Clara County Parks Department.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail Councilcontinues to make community mem-bers aware of the trail and educate ouryouth about the outdoors.We led about 80 outings that took hundreds of people in all nine coun-ties out on the trail. We also estab-lished a new “by-invitation” outingsprogram, which gets the public ontoprivate lands that may soon includea segment of the Ridge Trail.The council introduced more than500 low-income schoolchildren to theoutdoors in eight of the nine Bay Areacounties through our Ridge, Kids &Stewards Program. We provided edu-cational services to schools inCalistoga, Marin City, and theBayview and Potrero Hill neighbor-hoods of San Francisco, and partneredwith the Golden Gate NationalRecreation Area and San MateoCounty Parks Department to providekids with stewardship experiences.Our staff and volunteers workedclosely with Jean Rusmore andWilderness Press to completely updatethe Ridge Trail official guidebook,which was published last August.We received media coverage in the
San Francisco Chronicle, Napa Valley Register, San Jose Mercury News,Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Marin Independent Journal,
and on KQED-FM radio and the KRON-4
 Bay Area Backroads
television show.We supported efforts to commemo-rate the work of former CaliforniaState Parks Director and Ridge Trailvisionary William Penn Mott, Jr. byarchiving our historical records atU.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail Councilcrafted a three-year strategic plan andinitiated a complementary fund devel-opment plan this past year. Leadershipwas provided by our newly hired Exec-utive Director Holly Van Houten, who joined the organization in April. Shehas over seven years experience incommunity trail planning and partner-ship development with the NationalPark Service, including several yearsservice on the council’s board of direc-tors in the mid 1990s.We also added a new trail stewardstaff position to take on the responsi-bility of overseeing construction,maintenance, and management of Ridge Trail segments on private lands.John Aranson signed on in April aswell with more than 14 years of expe-rience as a park ranger with the MarinCounty Open Space District. Whileworking for the district he supervisedthe construction of many new trails,including several that now bear RidgeTrail signs!
The scenic Lynch Canyon Trail opened in November. Hikers at the Boccardo Trail dedication climbed tothe top of the ridge. Photos by Elizabeth Byers.We celebrated the opening of the River-to-Ridge Trail last year.

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