by Dave Weinstein, Trail Trekker president.
During 2016, El Cerrito Trail Trekkers made great strides towards improving the trail and urban pathway network in El Cerrito.
We won approval for a plan to install trail signs throughout the city, both in the Hillside Natural Area and along urban stairways and other paths. This was a multi-year effort done in conjunction with the National Park Service through their Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance Program. The city will fund sign installation in 2017 using Measure WW bond funds, thanks to unanimous approval from the Parks and Recreation Commission. We thank Patrick Johnston of the National Park Service for the imaginative signage design. It will make navigating the city’s many miles of paths much easier.
Also thanks to the National Park Service program, we have completed a map of all the city’s trails and pathways and will publish it in 2017. We thank Stephen Bowes of the National Park Service for major assistance developing and designing the map. This will be the first ever publically available map to the trails of El Cerrito. It will be free to members of Trail Trekkers and will be available to others for a small fee.
We are helping organize opposition to a proposed tract of mini-mansions on Fairview Open Space. In an effort to preserve 15 acres of wild land just to the north of the Hillside Natural Area, Trekkers met with a revived group named ECHO (El Cerrito Hillside Organization) to strategize fighting a plan to build 38 homes there. As we did two years ago with the Madera Open Space, we hope to add this land instead to the city’s Hillside Natural Area. The city has rejected initial proposals from the developer for several failures, including failing to explain how the plan would protect two creeks on the property, which combines grassland and forest and has a beautiful gorge with a series of cascades. The proposal will likely return in altered form for city consideration.
The third annual Hillside Festival was a great success, attracting about 300 people, including many families. We thank the city’s Environmental Quality Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission for co-sponsoring. We also thank the many organizations and individuals who led hikes, discussions, or otherwise took part, including the California Native Plant Society, Ranger Daniel Sanchez of the National Park Service, historian Richard Schwartz, the Golden Gate Audubon, the Northern California Geological Society, and others. We even had an outdoor meditation by Nicole Becker of Ojas Yoga Center. The festival raised funds for hillside maintenance.
We worked with other groups in the city on plans to open the Dorothy Rosenberg Memorial Park. The park may include a native plant nursery, environmental education and a meeting place for local non-profit groups. There will also be an alternative entrance via a short trail
Girl Scout Troop 31352, with the encouragement of Trail Trekkers, has renewed and restored plantings the troop installed two years ago at the Tassajara Steps near Tassajara Park. Robin Mitchell of the Community Garden Network was instrumental in helping the Scouts select native plants for the initial installation. We thank the Girl Scouts for their dedication to community improvement along our trails.
Trail Trekkers led more than two dozen hikes during the year, ranging from tours of the natural landscape on Albany Hill, to a hike past the city’s small but beautiful waterfalls, to an architectural tour of storybook-style homes, to a hidden geo-caching poetry hike. Our hikes are free to all.
At our annual meeting in 2016, the group of Raptors are the Solutions (RATS delivered a valuable presentation about protecting birds of prey from poisons used to control pests.
Trekkers held its first ever Members Appreciation Party this holiday season. It proved so successful we will do it again next year, and may add a spring appreciation party too.
Trekkers added to its board of directors a new member, Mollie Hazen, a longtime active member of the El Cerrito community. An event producer, legislative health care advocate and photographer, she operates Hazen Nature Photography, exhibiting photos of her late husband Don R. Hazen. She also serves as board president of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and as an El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commissioner. Mollie is a longtime member of the El Cerrito Crime Prevention Committee, received legislative recognition for her outstanding work in uniting the community against crime.