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Trail restoration projects begin in the Santa Ynez Valley for vital school safety and community routes

SANTA YNEZ, Calif.  -  The shovels have gone in on the first piece of a newly restored trail grid in the Santa Ynez Valley.

It began this morning on a segment in front of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School on Refugio Road at Highway 246.  

Over the years the old trail has been lost to developments on private and public properties including expanded roadway work.

Santa Ynez Resident Faith Deeter said, "and the most important thing we are bringing back is we're bringing back safety."

It started by looking at old maps.

"Right here the trail is already right here we don't have to recreate or reinvent it to bring it back," said Deeter. "We need to restore it  for the safety of everyone who lives here. Over time these shoulders have been getting lost."

Citizens worked with elected officials and the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department to find the old maps, see where the trails were lost, and find funding to make them available again.

The project is supported by the organizational skills and volunteers from the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade and founder Abe Powell.

This type of work was also done after the Montecito Mudflow.  The non-profit is a partner with the Santa Ynez trails effort, and there is a bigger message.

Bucket Brigade founder Abe Powell said, "we're not just here to build a trail,  we're not here to restore a roadway,  we're here to reconnect this community."    

"This community is fired up and ready to go," said Powell. 

The four-foot trail, "will be made out of this local shale material as opposed to some  fancy dg (decomposed granite) or something like that and it will be smooth so everyone should be able to walk on it safely," said Powell.

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann and Public Works Deputy Director Chris Sneddon were on hand for the opening work to describe the numerous community meetings and door to door walks that took place to gain community support for the project.

They also encouraged participation.

Hartmann said, "then people will have confidence that it is safe and they will  bring their children and their friends and we will get a lot more use here. "

Hartmann worked with the county to secure $250,000 in funding to complete this project as part of the safe-routes-to-school program. More money could be coming in future budget cycles.

Seeing the community interest, Sneddon says, "at the end of that you end up with a project that they feel a lot of ownership in and it makes a better feeling that has a lot ownership and that they've been a part of making  it happen."

It will extend to Stadium Road with the current phase.  Then it will be expanded to Baseline Road with future fundinfg.  The trails will be improved on both sides of the street for pedestrians, bike riders, and horseback riding.

The long range plans include trails that would connect to the area schools including Dunn school, and also the small communities including Ballard.

Community volunteers are needed Saturday morning October 1st and 8th starting at 8:30 a.m. Many have told organizers they are ready to dig up the past and move it forward.

Another trails project is in the early stages along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.

Article Topic Follows: Safety
santa ynez valley
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.


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