Marin County Open Space District: Modify Your Trail Plan to protect our historic trails and our freedom to wander.
  • Petitioning James Raives

This petition will be delivered to:

Senior Open Space Planner
James Raives
Director & General Manager
Linda Dahl
County Supervisor (District 4, covering San Geronimo Valley)
Steve Kinsey
County Supervisor (District 2, covering Fairfax and environs)
Katie Rice

Marin County Open Space District: Modify Your Trail Plan to protect our historic trails and our freedom to wander.

    1. Petition by

      Hands Off Our Trails

The 716 signatures made before the public comment period ended on December 1 have been turned in to the Open Space District. I have reopened this petition so that people who missed the original date can sign; your signature won't be officially part of the public comments, but it still matters!

Note: if you have trouble signing the petition, try using your PO box, or just your town and zip code; some San Geronimo Valley addresses aren't in the Postal Service's address validation database, and some websites think they're incorrect.

Under the draft Road and Trail Management Plan (available here), almost all open space in Region 2 (covering the San Geronimo Valley, Loma Alta Open Space Preserve, and Cascade Canyon) will have new rules imposed that forbid leaving official trails, promote decommissioning of existing trails many people hike on, and ban off-leash dogs on fire roads. This petition's purpose is to show County officials that we, the residents of the San Geronimo Valley, will not accept this.

The plan classifies areas in Region 2 (with the exception of Maurice Thorner Memorial OSP) as either Zone 1 ("immersed in nature") or Zone 2 ("connect to nature").

Ironically, these "immersed in nature" and "connect to nature" zones, as they are now, will make it illegal to do either, as their goals regarding trails and land management are restrictive to users and destructive to social and historically used trails.

Very few of the social trails used by residents of the San Geronimo Valley are recognized as official trails by the Open Space District. One decades-old trail in Woodacre has already been closed after a selfish visitor or visitors made illegal trail cuts, presumably to enhance its passability for mountain bikes; instead of reaching out to the community to repair the trail and apprehend those responsible for the damage, the Open Space District closed the trail unilaterally, threatening fines against anyone who uses it.

Residents of the Valley, visitors to the Valley, and historical users (ranchers, loggers, and, it is likely, the Coast Miwok people, who were here long before us) have been walking and hiking these trails for decades, or even centuries. It is unacceptable that we will be fined for continuing the use of our trails.

One of the major goals of the District in its new plan is the improvement of its trail network. They claim that they plan to accomplish this with no net reduction of trails in the system. Unfortunately for everyone who uses the current trails, this means that the District will be targeting the trails we love in order to construct new trails that are not necessarily wanted by anyone.

Linda Dahl, the Director and General Manager of the Open Space District, stated that new construction of trails would be enabled by the decommissioning of many of the social trails, which she claimed had been "illegally built" in the Gary Giacomini Preserve. Very few, if any, of these social trails have been built; instead, they grew organically through light use over long periods of time. Dahl claimed that this was acceptable because the trails are unwanted, do not lead anywhere desireable, or "aren't fun". If nobody wanted the trails, they would not exist in the first place. The District refers to them as social trails, but seems not to recognize the definition of a social trail.


The plans to restrict access to the woods and trails of the San Geronimo Valley are not in keeping with the Open Space district's goal of keeping these lands open for everyone to enjoy. If we can no longer wander through the woods, the Open Space will no longer be open.

We need to sign this petition in order to make it clear to the Open Space District that we will not accept being shut out of our Open Space after decades of free, low-impact use. In addition, we must make it clear that we love our trails, and that we will not accept them destroying the trails we use in order to build new ones elsewhere.

The District, though it did not inform trail users directly, has opened a period for public comment until December 1. They will respond to all written comments and incorporate feedback into the final road and trail plan. We still have a chance to keep our trails and woods ours.

I (Devin Wilson) started this petition because have been hiking on our trails and wandering in our woods since I could walk. Part of the reason my family moved to the San Geronimo Valley was because of the open access to woods and trails, and the Open Space District (whether through oversight or otherwise) is trying to take that away from us. I created Hands Off Our Trails in order to raise public awareness of this issue and encourage people to take action. (HOOT is not affiliated with SPAWN or the SGV Stewards; my hope is that we can all work together on this.)

More information about this issue is available at the Hands Off Our Trails website. There is also a written petition available; information about its location is also on the website.

In addition to signing the petition, I heavily encourage everyone to write a personal written comment. Your opinion will matter more to the people in charge if you put it in your own words. Information about who to send your comment to to have it counted is on the website. If you use the link in the sidebar, it will cc your comment to sgvtrails@gmail.com; I will print and turn in your comment along with the online and offline petition signatures at the end of the written comment period.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 750 signatures
    2. Goal smashed!

      With the 700 signatures on this petition and over 300 signatures so far on the written petition, we have broken 1000 people against these plans. We stand together!

    3. Reached 500 signatures
    4. Petition Mailing Update

      Hello and thank you to everyone who's signed so far.

      I am currently at the office of the Open Space District, looking at trail assessments and documents. I tried to access my site, http://sgvtrails.org, and found it was blocked by the County's web filter:

      http://i.imgur.com/XOUNsPm.png

      This may mean that your petition signing emails are being deleted by the County's web servers. This is no cause to worry; I will still be turning in the petition as a written comment to the relevant folks at the County.

      - Devin

    5. Further developments re: recognized trails

      Today I went to the Open Space offices and took a preliminary look at the Existing Conditions Report for Region 2. It's not publicly available; there are no digital copies, and they don't have any copies for people to take and study.

      I now have proof that the District's 2011 assessment of the roads and trails is flawed. There is an entire network of social trails that I have been hiking on for over a decade that are not indicated on the maps as social trails.

      I plan to map as many of these with GPS as I have time for and assemble a map for a comprehensive written comment to the MCOSD. I will be going back to the Civic Center on Monday to spend more time going over the ECR.

      If you want to help, contact me at sgvtrails@gmail.com. I need a portable flatbed scanner, GPS loggers/hiking GPS units that can export tracks to a computer, and volunteers who like to hike on these small trails in the Valley.

    6. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Brad Nye WOODACRE, CA
      • 7 days ago

      I love the land in the Valley. Leave it as is.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Vicki Dickerson CLAREMORE, OK
      • 7 months ago

      I lived in Marin County for 15 years and it was beautiful and serene. I want to see it kept that way.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • John Sarter SAN RAFAEL, CA
      • 7 months ago

      Marin County has become known for and "ground zero" for nimby-ism in the entire USA. For the Open Space District to restrict use of resident's rights to enjoy nature by walking off trails is a ridiculous extension and escalation of this disgusting trend. Restriction of dogs "off leash" is frankly bordering on fascist policy that undermines the rights of all residents of Marin. Instead of promoting sharing of MULTI USE trails by all, allowing all to enjoy nature in their respective ways, the Open Space Disctrict seems to be going in the opposite direction, creating conflict, unease, and anger among mutually "exclusive" groups. These policy's should be completely redesigned and trails opened up and expanded for ALL to enjoy.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Derek Johnson WOODACRE, CA
      • 7 months ago

      Freedom to share the outdoors among all of us, wildlife, cyclists, hikers, equestrians, dogs, etc. We can all share with a little thoughtfulness. Leave it government to our lives away from us. It turns democrats like me into a tea-partier---reluctantly.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Spencer Honeyman OAKLAND, CA
      • 9 months ago

      Wandering makes me a whole human being. If I can't get lost on smaller trails, I will go crazy.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the Change.org API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.