Over 500 miles of trails

Someone said that there are over 500 miles of trails in Marin County. I'm going to hike all of them. Want to hear more? Read on...

Location: Woodacre, California, United States

Well, I hike, obviously. I read, without retaining, lots of stuff but mostly classic and contemporary fiction, history, and science. I look at birds and plants. I play my guitar far less than I ought, and watch movies far more. I like to ask people questions, but only if they ask me questions in return. I aspire to honorable behavior and am mostly successful. I'm on the cusp of a career change, with bird research in my past/present and academic librarianship in my future. Occasionally I bust out and cook six course gourmet meals for my friends; for some reason it's always six and never seven or five. Enough about me. What about you? Stranger or friend, drop me a line!

Monday, June 19, 2006

On Saturday (June 17)Arty and I hiked the Dixon Ridge Trail, just a couple of miles in, across the private land, to the public land, then back to the private land again.

It's a pleasant hike, passing in and out of shady areas and sunny areas, views and glades. There are a lot of birds. I saw juvenile chestnut backed chickadees and Swainson's thrushes. In fact, it's a unique place, kind of like all the other unique places I've been to so far on this project.

It's all the more unique because of a one-quarter mile section of the trail that's at the center of a conflict pitting the owners of the land it traverses against a group of citizen-recreationalists from San Geronimo Valley and beyond. The trail segment in question is currently accessible to the public. However, the landowners hope to preserve their right to restrict public access for the sake of building their dreamt-of Pinot Noir vineyard, which would be negatively impacted by heavy public use. A local group of citizens is trying to convince/cajole/coerce them into granting an easement to guarantee continued access to the trail segment. If that fails, apparently it goes to the courts. According to this citizen group's website, a proposal to reroute the trail is unacceptable, as the proposed reroute would traverse an area prone to landslides and would cost the county too much money to maintain (yes, stealing the land would be cheaper- they do have a point there). For more info, check out this story in The Point Reyes Light.

I'm kind of getting the sense that I'm taking the unpopular side by saying this, but my sympathies still reside with the landowners, as I've stated in a previous post. This is what I came up with while I was hiking the trail:

1) How many other counties in the United States with comparable population densities can boast the sheer acreage of publicly owned land that Marin County, California does? Marin County Open Space District owns 33 separate parcels all available for your outdoor recreating pleasure. Then, there's the Point Reyes National Seashore, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, the Marin Municipal Water District, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods National Monument... am I forgetting anything? With this embarrassment of riches, it seems almost gauche to try to seize private land for the purpose of... *MORE* outdoor recreation!

2) I'd prefer to hike where I'm welcome, just as I'd prefer to enter someone's home with an invitation to dinner rather than a search warrant, and just as I'd prefer to hire a taxi wherever I'm going rather than hijack someone's car. I'm glad that the neighbors of these folks are willing to grant me access to their land, and I'll gladly take them up on it if they'll have me. But if the landowners in question want to build a winery rather than have a hiking trail on their land, then I don't particularly want to force my way into their party. It'd just feel awkward, don't you think?

3) The house I grew up in used to be beige. I've driven by it recently, and it's now lavender, with purple shutters. I kind of liked it better when it was beige, but I don't feel entitled to have the house taken away from its current owner because his color choice is not to my liking. If I really wanted it to remain beige, then I shouldn't have sold it in the first place. If this trail is something that needs to persist in its original state, why didn't Marin County Open Space District buy it to insure its continuance at the time it was for sale, knowing that the purchaser would have no legal obligation to do so? In the above referenced article, County Supervisor Kinsey is quoted as saying, "In the same way that farmers get upset when the public tries to put a trail across their ranches, the public gets upset when farmers try to put a ranch on their trail.” Well, this seems kind of obvious to me, but maybe it needs pointing out: if the public doesn't want a ranch on their trail, then they need to make sure their trail doesn't get bought by a rancher.


Blogger TJIC said...

Awesome post!

5:12 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Thanks, Travis, and for the free publicity on your blog as well.

4:36 PM  
Blogger AphotoAday said...

Kelly, those are good points you make, and I also agree that Eminent Domain is not a way to persue this issue... Although I missed most of the Board of Supervisor's meeting (broadcast on Channel 26 today), the impression I get is that the Supervisors are firmly for public-access along the ridge area, but the emphasis is on avoiding a lengthy and costly court fight...
The Supervisors all seemed to agree that re-routing portions of the trail may still be the way to go, although up until this point nobody had addressed any of the environmental issues... One supervisor also stated that he saw absolutely no valid reason that a vinyard and multiple-use trail cannot co-exist... Again, the idea is to avoid litigation... Eminent Domain would be counter-productive and would have a deliterious effect on future Marin County multiple-use trail development... It looks like the debate is going to go on for some time, but I have more hope now that something can and will be worked out...

I approach the trail issue as sort of a hipocrit... Here at home, I live on a crowded street, but do not allow anyone to park in my extra parking space... Most of my neighbors cannot understand why I do not allow them to park there -- although it is purely a liability issue for my landlord -- which I am mandated to enforce... Many of my neighbors are NOT happy with me...

You know, after the trail situation is resolved, I think I should start my own campaign to get the road-cut at the top of the hill widened... That road just isn't wide enough for cars and bicyclers -- not to mention drunk drivers, such as the one who took Cece Krohn's life a few years ago... Personally, I think that is MUCH more of an important issue than recreation on the Dixon Trail.

2:24 PM  

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