Hikers, walkers, joggers, equestrians:

Your Participation is Needed to Protect Marin’s Open Space Preserves

     We represent the “foot people,” those who walk or ride a horse on fire roads and trails on public lands.  Among us, we represent about 75% of the 1,000s who frequent these lands.  We are at a critical intersection now that roll-out of the Final RTMP (Road and Trails Management Plan) has begun. Marin County Parks’ staff will be sharing a draft of their recommendations for each Region’s road and trail system at a series of open houses. The first, for Region One (covering King Mountain OSP, Baltimore Canyon OSP, Blithedale Summit OSP, Camino Alto OSP, Alto Bowl, OSP, and Horse Hill OSP), is scheduled for March 22 at the Mill Valley Community Center, 1:30-4:30 PM (Please see the Marin County Parks Web Site: Events, for exact information). 

     We anticipate that staff’s recommendations could include legalizing some unauthorized trail (e.g., social trails, illegally-built trails), decommissioning some trails, improving some trails or roads, narrowing existing nonessential fire roads, Using an “Evaluation Tool” developed for the Plan, staff will compute a baseline, based on scoring about two dozen individual physical and biological criteria, plus some social criteria. However, the social criteria do not reflect the effect that changes of use, such as opening narrow trails to bikes, or narrowing fire-roads to trail width, could have on user safety and well-being.

     Each Region’s baseline point score will serve as a starting point for evaluating the environmental effects of future “projects” and management actions.  The intent is to consistently reduce the score (i.e.,” impacts”) so as to achieve net environmental benefit, even as new trails might be added to the system or recreational uses changed. 

     At these community meetings, the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the District’s draft recommendations, and comment and presumably influence these decisions.  In addition to contacting your Supervisor, these meetings are the best opportunity to make our concerns known about resource protection and trail safety.   At this first meeting staff will also introduce “Project In-take” forms – the form on which a proposed project must be submitted for consideration by the Department. We anticipate vigorous participation from the mountain bike community whose paid lobbyists have already been meeting with Parks staff to make their trail wishes known. 

     It is critical that the environmental, hiking, and equestrian community band together to show strength and unity in making road and trail recommendations, and providing the resources to help implement them, that protect the environment/natural resources, as well as the recreational experience and safety of the slower trail visitor. Because our groups do not have paid lobbyists, it is therefore essential that  you, your group and others like you take an active role in this process to ensure that  our natural resources are protected and that our enjoyment of hiking, walking our dogs, riding our horses, or jogging are not compromised.  This process, region by region, trail by trail, will go on for many years.  The next Region to be considered is Region 2, which includes, among others, Giacomini Open Space Preserve, the largest of the County’s Preserves and heavily used by many.  Watch marinparks.org and search for “Road and Trail Management Plan” for ongoing information.

 We hope you’ll join us in this endeavor!  Linda Novy [email protected]