El Cerrito Trail Trekkers’ 2020 goals:
Trail Trekkers celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020. Trail Trekkers’ first ever hike occurred March 10, 2010 – before the group actually formed. The public meeting that formed the group, sponsored by the Environmental Quality Committee and El Cerrito Historical Society, almost filled the city council chambers on July 15, 2010. Throughout 2020 we will celebrate our anniversary through hikes and other events.
Rotary Interpretive Walk will be installed in 2020. Plans for installation in 2019 were delayed. We thank the El Cerrito Rotary Club for initiating and funding this project – and for the patience of our friendly Rotarians, especially Lee Prutton. Thanks due also to sign illustrator Adam Prost, designer Jan Byers, and to all the authors of text: Susan Schwartz, Tara McIntire, Keli Hendricks, Gary Prost, Zara McDonald, Bev Ortiz, Eddie Dunbar, and Dave Weinstein. Tom Gehling and Linda Yamane contributed additional illustrations.
Directional trail signs to be installed in the Hillside Natural Area. These were designed for us by the National Park Service (thank you park planner Patrick Johnston!) but installation has been delayed, most recently as city officials ponder renaming trails. But – 2020 will be the year!
Fund-raising for the urban path signs. The city is providing funding for the National Park Service-designed signs in the Hillside Natural Area. But no funds have been provided for the many public paths, stairways and walks that are outside of the Hillside – even though many are obscure. The Park Service has designed all the signs. Treasurer Pam Austin leads fund-raising efforts to pay for these signs and installation, a process that may take several years.
Preserving Open Space. We will continue to organize opposition to a proposed tract of mini-mansions on Fairview Open Space. The area is just to the north of Motorcycle Hill, bordered by Fairview Drive and Tamalpais Avenue and by houses that are on Arlington Boulevard.
Trail Trekkers is forming an Activities and Planning Council to get more people active in our 10-year-old organization. Advisory council members would provide input as needed, and energy, as available. Council members would be asked to meet once a year – at a “strategic planning retreat” with the Trekkers board. Refreshments provided of course! Wade Huntley came up with the plan. Let us know if you are want to learn more or join.
Trail work. Besides continuing our existing efforts, Trekkers plans to develop shovel-ready trail projects in conjunction with the city, so work can move ahead expeditiously as volunteers – Scouts for example – become available.
The seventh Annual Hillside Festival will benefit from lessons we learned in previous years. No longer will hikes overlap, for example, so people can go on every hike if they wish. As always, it will be the first weekend of May 1-3 this year, with most events on Saturday and Sunday. The schedule will be final at the start of March.
Other hikes, new hike leaders. Trekkers is always looking for new hike leaders. We have found that hikes that feature nature, geology and history are a good draw. But we also love putting on hikes that are simply about walking and talking and enjoying the sights. Interested in leading a hike? Leaders provide subject expertise and/or enthusiasm. Trekker “ambassadors” go on all hikes and handle all else, logistics, paperwork, publicity, safety. Let us know.
Trail Trekkers’ 2019 accomplishments:
Trail work and habitat improvement. Trekkers put on about a dozen trail work parties and broom pull events, on our own or with Friends of Five Creeks and the Environment Quality Committee. We worked at Madera Open Space, and improved such trails as Motorcycle Hill, the Live Oak, and Madera-Julian. We also joined the EQC at several cleanups at Baxter and Cerrito creeks.
Our map to all the trails in El Cerrito was published. We finished this long promised map just as the year ended. It will be distributed free too all member and sold to others for $6. Steve Bowes, an El Cerrito resident, designed the trail map on behalf of the National Park Service and Jan Byers designed the final map package. Tom Gehling and Carol Langhuaser saw it to completion. Dozens of volunteers throughout the years charted all of the trails.
The Sixth Annual Hillside Festival continued to attract naturalists and would-be naturalists, families and children, to learn about nature, geology and history in the Hillside Natural Area – and simply to have fun. We continue to attract 300-plus people every year – a good number for this event. One favorite hike focused on insects, led by Eddie Dunbar.
Hikes. Trail Trekkers put on more than a dozen hikes this year, not counting those at the festival. These included a Wildcat Canyon Ramble, a Wonderful Waterfalls Hike. Ralph Boniello and Ann Harlow’s Trees and Paths of Kensington, a Tree and Climate hike by climate scientist David Ackerly, an Easy Shoreline Walk, a San Francisco Pier to Pier Hike, a Three Parks Stroll, and others.
Fire prevention. Trekkers focused on fire prevention in and around the Hillside this year. One activity was at our annual meeting with presentations by Cheryl Miller, executive coordinator of the Diablo Fire Safe Council, and Dave Gibson, El Cerrito’s fire marshal. We have posted Ann’s talk on our website.
In addition, Dave Gibson led a walk about fire prevention in the Hillside during the Hillside Festival.
Advised the city on protecting native plants during road grading in the Hillside. Crews hired by the city repaired and re-graded some fire roads that provide access to the Hillside Natural Area for hikers and fire emergency equipment. Trekkers (Tom Gehling) and Friends of Five Creeks (Susan Schartz) worked with the city to successfully ensure that native habitat was preserved during construction.
Co-sponsored with the El Cerrito Library a library exhibit about Trekkers and a program by Eddie Dunbar, “Insects of the San Francisco Bay Area,” with stimulating discussion among people who are fascinated by these tiny critters. Barbara Lass made it happen.
Trekkers welcomed many volunteers. Throughout the year we gained new volunteers, Susan Kuchinskas, our webmaster, Clare Sheridan to handle publicity, all of our hike leaders, all those who have turned out for work parties. We also appreciate our longtime volunteers, like Jim and Andia Rasmussen, and Jenny Hammer who is leading work parties. It is all of these people who make Trekkers the dedicated organization it has remained for 10 years.
Our members appreciation barbecue helped foster community. Every year we put on annual or semi-annual parties for members. Also in 2019, we added a purely social gathering – open to all — during the Hillside Festival. The late Mollie Hazen spearheaded these efforts as a board member. Trekkers does more than fight for trails and open space. We serve an important role in building local social engagement in and around El Cerrito.
Provided encouragement to trail groups in neighboring towns. Trail and urban living advocates in two nearby or not-so-far-away unincorporated communities sought out Trail Trekkers for our input as they worked to restore trails and otherwise improve things. We met with the Kensington Pathskeepers as they strive to restore the network of trails just alongside ours. We provided input to a new group in Crockett that hopes to use the arts, historic buildings, and their own network of urban paths to improve quality of life there. These discussions are continuing.
And of course we remain in close touch with Berkeley Path Wanderers, the group that inspired our own formation and continue to provide us with so inspiration and information.
Supported El Cerrito’s Measure H. Trail Trekkers strongly supported Measure H on the November ballot, which passed with about 70 percent of the vote. The measure extends an existing $58.46 per property annual charge that pays for recreation and parks, including trails and open space.
We helped develop the city’s Park and Recreation Master Plan by attending many meetings in 2018 and 2019, providing other comments, and encouraging others to do the same.
Trail Trekker T-shirts. Barbara Lass and Wade Huntley oversaw production of the first ever Trekker T-shirts, emblazoned with the logo designed for us six years ago by Sue Labouvie. You can now order a Trail Trekkers t-shirt at Copy Central at 1553 Solano Ave. in Berkeley. Ask the manager to have a Trail Trekkers shirt printed. It takes about 48 hours. You can bring your own shirt or have Copy Central supply the shirt.