The President’s Message — March 2016
Happy 2016 Friends of the Forest,
My…..how time flies? It’s once again that time of the year when it behooves the Advocates’ President to put together his State of the Advocates/Nisene Marks yearly review. I apologize for being a little tardy in my appointed duties, but I am pleased to report that the ‘State of our Union’ is strong!
With your continued help and support, the Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks had another busy and successful year in 2015. We look forward to building on those successes, continuing to pursue unfinished work and embarking on new initiatives in 2016. But first, let’s take a look back….
Thru the combined efforts of the Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks, the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, and California State Parks, we are pleased to announce that the our Dust Abatement campaign was successful again this year. From May 13th through the 19th, a State Parks crew was able to re-grade the Aptos Creek Fire Road from the Kiosk to the Steel Bridge, add and compact 200 tons of base rock, and coat the road with the environmentally safe dust suppressant called ‘Dust-Off’. The total cost of this project was in the $15,000 range. Thru your generous donations, the Advocates were able to raise and contribute $4,045 towards this year’s efforts. Thank you so much. You made a huge difference for every Park user!
Is the drought finally over? I believe the answer is ‘yes’. Have we fully recovered from one of the worst droughts in California history? The answer is definitely ‘no’. It’s going to take a lot more rain and snow to fill our reservoirs, create a substantial snow-pack and recharge our depleted aquifers. However, it’s raining as I write, with more rain in the forecast. The rain totals are either approaching or exceeding the historical averages for this time of year.
The forecasted El Niño arrived on schedule, and has been welcomed with open arms and umbrellas. The Forest is definitely showing signs of its appreciation. The flora and the fauna seem to be soaking it up nicely. The creeks are running fast and babbling loud. There have been a few spontaneous water falls sprouting out of the hillsides here and there. There was a beautiful one about 100 feet downstream from the Steel Bridge for a couple of days in January. I hope you had a chance to see it. Old-timers say they’ve never seen a waterfall in that location. It looked like a scene from Hawaii, or at least Yosemite!
Trail Work Days
As you probably know, the Advocates help maintain the trails and facilities in the Park. As always, in the spring we installed and in the fall we removed the two seasonal bridges over Aptos Creek. We also brushed-back and did tread work on many of the trails in the lower network, including the Oak Ridge, Mill Pond and Terrace trails. We also cleared some very significant downed trees both on the trails and on the fire road. Many thanks go out to Patrick Courtright, of State Parks, who works with us side-by-side on each of these projects, and Bob Thrash, the Advocates ‘Trail Boss’ who organizes these monthly adventures. And of course, we can never give enough thanks to those volunteers who give up a good chunk of their Sunday once a month to come out and help us take care of this beautiful Park.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and offer thanks to some of our more regular trail work volunteers that have donated their time, blood, sweat and tears in 2015 and in years past: Norm Nelson, Pierre Tariff, Andrea Lee, Bob Bailey, Kevin Bell, Jeff Thomson, Chris Angelos, and Peter Fish. Special thanks to all of our regulars.
Special thanks also must go out to Pacific Coffee Roasting Company for donating the fantastic coffee that keeps us going before and during our trail work days.
Please come on out and help us. It’s good exercise, a lot of fun, it’s very satisfying and it’s a great way to give back to the Park that we all enjoy. By the way, I was just kidding about the ‘blood and tears’.
Best of “Friends”
The Advocates are extremely proud and grateful for our on-going collaborative relationship with the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Our very own Chairman of the Board, Geoff Alexander acts as our liaison and serves on their Nisene Committee since its inception in 2013. We are grateful to Bonnie Hawley, Peg Danielson and Chairman Stuart Kitayama for our inclusion at their table. We have two great organizations helping to improve and maintain the Forest of Nisene Marks, and we couldn’t do it without their help.
The ‘Nisene Committee’ deserves special recognition this year for the replacement of the rapidly deteriorating 3rd bridge on the Loma Prieta Grade Trail. This is the bridge closest to the Big Stump Gulch. This was a huge undertaking of time, money and effort. Friends, State Parks and the CCC working together made it happen. If you have yet to see the results, please go check it out. It’s a beautiful hike, and just imagine how they got all of those materials out there!
Stepping-Down and Stepping-Up
Two of our most beloved Board members stepped down this past year, Maureen Thrash and Elisa Webb. They each made a lasting difference for both the Advocates and the Park. They are sorely missed, and we can never thank them enough for their contributions.
Two doors close, and two doors open. Toward the end of the year, we welcomed two potentially new board members- Diane Delucchi and Melanie Dominguez- to our Board meetings. We are pleased to announce that they have accepted our invitation to join the Board. Welcome, Dianne and Melanie.
We also did some minor position shuffling of roles on our ‘Board of Directors’. After two proud years of serving as President, I was delighted to turn over the reins to Allison Livingston, our former Secretary. Alli is already doing a fantastic job in her new position. Geoff Alexander, our Chairman of the Board, has taken over Allis’s Secretarial duties and Maureen’s newsletter duties. I am moving into a less defined role that could probably best be referred to as the ‘Goodwill Ambassor’. I plan to spend time out in the community spreading the good word and trying to raise money, volunteers and exposure for the work that we do in the Park.
2016: A Year of Promise
The Advocates, who work closely with Friends, State Parks and all of our volunteers and donors, once again have big plans, hopes and goals for 2016 and beyond.
Interpretive Panels: We look forward to the possibility of adding additional interpretive panels in the Park. Some locations under consideration are the Loma Prieta town site, Hoffman’s Historic Site, Big Stump Gulch and the Top of the Incline.
Hawk’s Peak Trail: Hawk’s Peak is a lovely little knoll above the Buggy Trail with a view very similar to that of Sand Point. It would be a wonderful addition to the trails in the lower network. I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘work in progress’, but we’re definitely ‘advocating’ for its development. Hopefully, we will see some progress on re-opening that trail this year!
Aptos Creek Fire Road Dust Abatement: We hope to continue to expand that effort. Like so many other things, funding is the key to this project. Fortunately, the approvals are in place!
Trail Signage: This year, you can look forward to better trail signage in the Marcel’s Forest and Big Slide areas. I know I said this last year…but we certainly hope to do it his year. Sometimes, the wheels of progress grind a little more slowly than we would like.
Bridge repair/replacement: The middle bridge on the Loma Prieta Grade Trail is on the docket for replacement this year. We have just learned that ‘Friends’ has indeed approved the funding for this bridge project. That’s great news!
Bathrooms: The Kiosk parking lot is slated to get a new ADA compliant bathroom and parking spaces. There has also been talk with the ‘Save-the-Redwoods-League’ regarding the possibility of funding for upgrading the bathroom at George’s Picnic Area. These two projects would both be welcome improvements.
Additional Parking: The long awaited (or dreaded) ‘Aptos Village Project’ has finally broken ground and is well under way. That project will have a significant impact on access and parking within the Park. Expanding parking in the Park will quickly become a necessity. We look forward to working with State Parks, Friends and the developer on exploring the possibilities for additional parking space.
And finally….in closing!
With the support of folks like you, the Advocates have been able to help State Parks take care of the Forest of Nisene Marks for the past 25 + years. Thank You!
Unfortunately, more than ever, we continue to need your support, and the support of our entire community. State Parks’ budget for taking care of the Forest of Nisene Marks state Park has inexplicably gotten worse -not better- despite the improving economy and state finances.
With your generous support, we can continue to make a difference in the Park. As an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, you can rest assured that your donation will be judiciously and efficiently put to work. So, thank you for your generosity and support in continuing to preserve and improve the Forest of Nisene Marks.
Happy 2016 everybody….hope to see you in the Forest!
Out-going President/current Ambassador
Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks