Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What Happened to the Gray Whale Trails Process?

The readers digest summary...

For those of you who need a history lesson, there were a number of trails which were recommended to be opened by the Gray Whale Advisory Committee (GWAC) - a group of concerned trail users and stake holders. GWAC included MBOSC and the Santa Cruz Horseman's Assoc some environmental and native species groups, etc....

The great thing about GWAC was that a consensus between these disparate groups was actually reached. Some of the trails that were recommended to be opened include:

1. Wally World; from top of Long Meadow to Cave Gulch
2. Holiday Trail; from Chinquapin Trail to bottom of Woodcutters Trail
3. Picnic Loop; from Chinquapin Trail to Holiday Trail
4. Deja Vu Connector; From Eucalyptus Trail to Long Meadow
5. Majors Creek Vista; a short trail off of Woodcutters to a nice view
6. UCSC Connector; from top of Englesman Trail to the University property across from the Arboretum.

The proposal to open the trails was submitted to the California Coastal Commission back in 2001 and the CCC came up with a reply which was never implemented:

1. 11x17 Base map
2. Habital Assessment and Management:
- all biological resources within 100 ft of any Gray Whale trails
- For any resources identified, trail impact analysis
3. Trail classification
4. Trail monitoring and management program
5. Summary of Public Input
6. Revised Gray Whale Ranch Public Works Plan
7. Santa Cruz County Co-ordination
8. PWP Project Request

Out of all the requirements, #2 was the difficult part.

By the time the CCC letter came out, State Parks went though re-orgs and budget cutbacks. Requirement #2 became an unsurmountable hurdle to open the trails. The momentum to open the trails was lost and many MBOSC members who worked so hard on this issue burned out.

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