Monday, February 19, 2007

Scoping the UCSC Moore Creek Project

For years an ad-hoc trail called "Star Wars" has run through the upper Moore Creek on the University of California Santa Cruz campus (UCSC). The Director of the Campus Natural Reserve (CNR) and the Co-Director of Transportation and Planning Services (TAPS) has expressed a desire to work with the trail building community to construct a legitimate recreational/interpretive trail through the upper Moore Creek in a sustainable way.

An undergraduate student thesis, "Trail Alternatives through Upper Moore Creek in the UCSC Campus Natural Reserve" (link pending) 3/27/2006 by Iris J. DeSerio may be used as the starting point for the project. This thesis identifies 12 projects along the Moore Creek and would be a good basis for estimating the level of effort. Members of MBOSC did an initial walk along the project route and we agree with most of the recommended projects. There are some concepts that we disagree with and we will be documenting them sometime soon.

The trail project may not require more CEQA effort other than a mitigated negative declaration since the "no project" alternative is so bad. However, the UCSC officials are qualified to do the environmental work if they determine that it needs to be done.

One constraint for the project is that it would have to work within the UCSC storm water and Drainage Master Plan (See Table 8, Kresge Tributary projects 74 - 82. pdf page 153 Fig 12. pdf page 146 has a map which corresponds to the table). The trail projects in Moore Creek would have to be co-ordinated with this project. We had a discussion with the Project Manager and she is willing to work with us to ensure that both projects are complementary. The Moore Creek section of the storm drain project is slated to be part of Phase II - which could commence in 2008. The storm drain project consultants are planning to walk the creek sometime this spring in order to come up with some project concepts.

One of the recommendations of the student thesis is the extensive use of pavers. Ideally, MBOSC would like to have a sustainable trail which doesn't require pavers. We also think that the trail should be a bench cut trail located at least 8 feet above the creek bottom. I'm sure we will get some flack about sanitizing the trail from the bike community but the alternatives are much worse. There is a very strong desire from UCSC to do something about environmental damage on Star Wars. If we are not involved then the check dams and the gravel beds from the Storm Drain project will make the trail mostly un-ridable.

Our goals would be to deliver a sustainable trail that is fun to ride. This could be an excellent demonstration of the beginning of a productive relationship between mountain biking community and UCSC. Without it, we will remain the pariahs and scape goats of all environmental problems on the upper campus whether or not the damage is a result of mountain biking.

We anticipate that this project will start sometime in the Spring/Summer 2008 - which will hopefully coincide with the storm drain project. We would love the support of the mountain biking and trail building community to help us out when we start this project.

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