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 email@example.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.
Under the draft RTMP, all open space in the San Geronimo Valley (plus Cascade Canyon and Loma Alta OSPs) will be restrictively regulated, banning off-trail use by anyone, banning off-leash dogs, closing existing and established trails not recognized by the District, and fining anyone found off of the official trails. In addition, the District's stated goal in parts of these zones involves decommissioning, closure, and elimination of existing official trails.
Residents of the Valley and others have been walking and hiking these trails for years or decades, in many cases. It is unacceptable that we will be fined for continuing to hike on our trails. These trails, almost exclusively, were not built or constructed, but grew organically through long periods of light use.
If there is a problem with illegal construction construction of trails or visitors intentionally damaging the environment in the Open Space Preserves, the correct solution is to reach out to the community for help preventing this, instead of banning the community from enjoying what it has for decades.
We want to keep our trails. The trails we love should not be decommissioned because the District does not think they lead to anywhere desirable. If people did not want the trails, they would not exist in the first place. This is the definition of a social trail, but the District does not seem to understand this.
We demand a change to the Draft RTMP to allow us to continue hiking on and off our trails and enjoying the Open Space in the San Geronimo Valley, Loma Alta OSP, and Cascade Canyon OSP without being cited or fined, as we have in the past and hope to in the future. In addition, we demand that our existing trails be preserved and protected from decommissioning, whether or not new ones are constructed in the future.