By Dave Weinstein, President of the El Cerrito Trail Trekkers
Trail Trekkers’ accomplishments in 2015:
During 2015, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers accomplished much but we still face many challenges as we go into our sixth year as a nonprofit, city-cosponsored organization dedicated to improving and building trails and advocating for open space in the city of El Cerrito.
- We completed the campaign to acquire and pay for the 8-acre Madera Open Space. The city added it to the Hillside Natural Area in 2015, thanks to advocacy spearheaded by Trail Trekkers. Trail Trekkers also played the lead role in a fundraising campaign that exceeded (by about $3,000) our goal of raising $100,000 to help pay for the purchase.
- We worked with the city to design a public sign that will acknowledge all donors to the Madera Open Space Campaign. A temporary version of what will soon be a permanent sign will be installed in early 2016.
- We worked with the National Park Service through their Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance Program to develop a signage plan for all trails and public pathways in the city. Our partner at the Park Service is finishing a draft version now and the final plan will be complete in 2016. We heartily thank the National Park Service for their years of dedication and hard work on this project.
- We improved the Terrace Cutoff Trail, worked with Friends of Five Creeks on removing invasive broom from the Hillside Natural Area, and co-sponsored with Friends of Five Creeks a fun and educational “moth night” in the Hillside.
- We continue to lead several hikes a month, both within and without El Cerrito. All of our hikes are free and open to members and non-members.
- We ran a very successful second annual Hillside Festival in May, attracting several hundred people, including many families, to a series of hikes, natural history events, historical talks, a wildlife contest for young people, and more, drawing well-deserved attention to the city’s beautiful Hillside Natural Area. Partners included the El Cerrito High Mountain Bike Team, Friends of Five Creeks, the City of El Cerrito, and others.
- We ran the second annual (and probably last) Music for Madera Festival in September. This was less successful in terms of attendance than the Hillside Festival. But the music was great, spirits were high – and we raised $3,200 that we donated to the city to help pay for maintenance and improvements in the Hillside Natural Area.
- We worked with the city, Friends of Five Creeks, and others to develop a citywide Urban Greening Plan, which was recently approved by the City Council. It lays out future plans for parks, green space, and more. The maps developed by consultants working on the plan derived in large part from Trail Trekker maps, which in turn were developed thanks to our ongoing partnership with the National Park Service. We also commented on the city’s Active Transportation Plan to ensure that pedestrian use of city pathways plays an important role.
- We initiated discussions with the Boy Scouts about joint events, trail projects, and on maintaining public access to Camp Herms trails while ensuring the security of scouts during scouting events.
Trail Trekkers’ challenges for 2016:
- We want to re-focus our attention on trail building. We need more trail builders, and people who can lead trail building parties. We want to increase outreach to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other organizations with an interest in trails and the outdoors.
- We have publicized the threat to Fairview Open Space, the 15-acre wild land just north of the Hillside Natural Area. A developer hopes to put houses there. Trekkers will work to preserve this valuable open space.
- We plan to create a printed version of our trail map this year for easy use by hikers, walkers and bikers.
- We will work with the city and Friends of Dorothy M. Rosenberg Park on planning for improvements in this new, but yet-to-open, nature and garden park in the city’s hills.
- We will work with PG&E to control overgrowth on the open space PG&E property, which is in between Moeser Lane and the Hillside Natural Area, while preserving and improving wildlife and natural habitat. We will work to ensure continued public access to trails on this property.
- We will mount a membership drive to ensure that people get involved with our organization and help support its mission through their dues – and in other ways too.
© 2016 The El Cerrito Trail Trekkers