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President’s Message 2017

The President’s Message March 2017

Happy 2017, Friends of the Forest

Wow! What a year 2016 turned out to be.  We have a new President, and “no”, it wasn’t Hillary.’ California went for ‘her’ and the nation got ‘him’, instead. Only time will tell how all that works out.  It definitely was a year of extremes.

SS Palo Alto

The stern of the Palo Alto has been turned onto her side in her sandy resting place. Winter storm surf has battered our beloved ‘cement ship’. She’s still facing south, but she looks oddly dis-jointed and somewhat contorted. We’ll just have to get used to this new look, out there.

“When it rains, it pours”

It’s safe to say, “the drought is officially over!”. That’s great news. The not-so-great news is that record rains battered our community and our Parks. Public and private roads were closed throughout the county, due to mud-slides, fallen trees, and failing culverts and bridges. It’s a mess, with over $90 million in local road damage. Homeowners are digging out and mopping up from slides and floods. The whole town of Oroville was evacuated due to concerns about the potential failure of their dam.  Local jurisdictions and California State Parks are desperately looking to FEMA for assistance. Unfortunately, that’s a time-consuming process, even though emergency repairs need to be made, now.

The Forest of the Nisene Marks was certainly not spared. The fire road beyond the entry kiosk has been closed to all vehicles except those for access to land-locked residences. As a result of landslides, slip-outs and downed trees, the fire-road past the steel bridge has recently been closed to Park visitors. That has not stopped mountain bikers, hikers, runners and the curious who wander past the “Park closed” signs. If anyone should get injured in the ‘back-country’, emergency vehicles would not be able to get there to provide aid. It’s a very dangerous situation.

State Parks and the Advocates are still taking inventory of the damaged and blocked trails.  It appears that the Aptos Creek Trail is once again closed in the Big Slide area. Reports are that the log foot-bridge at the Big Slide is no longer passable. That’s very sad, as that bridge was an accomplishment that required a tremendous effort on the part of State Parks and the California Conservation Corps (CCC). 

A Fallen Giant

After possibly a thousand years or more, the Advocate Tree has fallen. On 1/9/17, a Park visitor heard a tremendous crash, proceeded to investigate, and found the fallen giant on the ground. That beautiful old-growth tree was more than 45 feet in circumference, and at over 250 feet tall, it was one of the tallest redwoods in the park. We were very pleased that this tree had long ago been named to honor the Advocates organization, and we are saddened by its untimely demise. Respectfully, someone left a bouquet of roses at her base. In partnership with State Parks and the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, we’re planning a commemorative event in remembrance of our ‘fallen friend’, sometime this summer.

Happy 25th Anniversary

In conjunction with the tree’s upcoming commemoration, we are also planning a milestone celebration of the Advocates. Come join us July 29. More details to follow. In November, 1992, the Advocates organization was founded, and we will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Will there be a cake? Possibly, but you will have to come to the event to find out. Stay tuned!

Best of ‘Friends’

The Advocates are extremely proud and grateful for our on-going collaborative relationship with the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks organization. On a rotating basis, members of our Board serve on Friends’ Nisene Committee. Nis-Com, as it’s usually called, deserves special recognition for this past year’s replacement of both the 2nd and 3rd bridges on the Loma Prieta Grade Trail. That was a huge undertaking of time, money and effort.  Friends, State Parks and the CCC worked together to make that happen. If you’ve yet to see the results, please go check it out. It’s a beautiful hike, and just attempt to imagine how they got all of those materials to those locations!

Friends had also funded work on the lower bridge on the Loma Prieta Trail, and that work was scheduled for this summer. Unfortunately, that funding was reallocated to repair storm damage to the Park, especially along the fire road. Hopefully, those funds will ultimately get reimbursed by FEMA, and that money can once again be allocated for work on the lower bridge, in 2018.

Unfortunately, the 2017 fire road dust abatement project has faced the same budgetary fate, for the second year in a row. Hopefully, with all the moisture now in the ground and the cumulative effect of prior years’ ‘Dust-Off’ applications, the road won’t be nearly as dusty this coming summer.

Wilderness Patrol

 State Parks is introducing a ‘Wilderness Patrol’ program into our Park this summer. There will be three days of training for the volunteers, this spring. Just think of those volunteers as roaming goodwill ambassadors, or docents in the Park. While they are on their ‘patrols’, they will be out on the trails to assist and educate the trail users. They will also be performing miner trail maintenance functions while they are ‘out and about’. The Advocates have agreed to provide funding for their uniforms. Keep an eye out for them, and welcome them into the Park!

Trail Work Days

As you probably know, the Advocates help maintain the trails and facilities in the Park. As always, in the spring we install and in the fall we remove the two seasonal foot-bridges over Aptos Creek. We also do brush-back and tread work along many of the trails in the lower network, including along the Oak Ridge, Mill Pond and Terrace trails. We also clear away some very significant downed trees, both on the trails and on the fire road. Many thanks go to Barbi Barry, of State Parks, who works side-by-side with us on each of these projects, and Bob Baily – the Advocates ‘Trail Boss’ – who organizes the monthly trail maintenance adventures. And of course, we can never give enough thanks to those volunteers who, once each month, give up a good chunk of their Sunday to come out and help us take care of this beautiful Park.

Special thanks also must go to Pacific Coffee Roasting Company for donating the fantastic coffee that keeps us going through our trail work days.

If you can spare the time, please come join us the 3rd Sunday of the Month 9:30am by the Kiosk. It’s good exercise, a lot of fun, very satisfying and a great way to give back to the Park. Bring a lunch, water, work gloves and work clothes. We will provide the tools! We look forward to seeing you!

2017: A Year of Restoration and 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 2017 and beyond, which include:

Interpretive Panels: We look forward to the possibility of adding additional interpretive panels in the Park. Inspired (if you will), by the falling of our Advocate Tree, we are considering the idea of a virtual tree ring display for the entry kiosk area. We are also pursuing the idea of a big cross-cut of the fallen Advocate Tree to expose its rings. With the help of extremely patient and meticulous volunteers, we would hope to count the annular rings and truly determine the age of that incredible tree. Both displays, together, would create a great educational destination for visitors.

Restrooms: The Kiosk parking lot is slated to get a new ADA compliant restroom and ADA parking spaces. There has also been talk with the ‘Save the Redwoods League’ regarding the possibility of funding to upgrade the restroom at George’s Picnic Area. Those two projects would be welcome Park improvements.

Additional Parking: The long awaited (or dreaded) ‘Aptos Village Project’ is well under way. That project will have a significant impact on access to and parking within the Park. Expanded parking in the Park will soon become a necessity. We look forward to working with State Parks, Friends and the developer, to explore the possibilities for additional parking spaces.

And finally, in closing!

 With the support of folks like you, the Advocates have been able to assist State Parks in taking care of the Forest of Nisene Marks, over the past 25 years. We thank you for your help!

Unfortunately, more than ever, we continue to need your financial and physical support, and the support of our entire community. State Parks’ budget for the care of the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park has gotten worse – not better – despite the improving economy and state finances. This past winter’s storms have truly devastated many of our State Parks. That situation leaves our State Parks system in a severe budget crisis.

With your generous support, we will continue to help make the Park a wonderful place to visit. As an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, you can rest assured that the use of your donations will be effectively and efficiently put to work. So, thank you for your generosity and support in continuing to preserve and improve, and now restore, our Forest of Nisene Marks. To donate: go to and hit Donate Now. Or mail a check to: Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks, P.O.Box 461, Aptos, California, 95001-0461

Happy 2017, everybody! We hope to see you in the Forest, sometime soon!


Allison and John

Allison Livingston, President

John Fuchs, Director, Past President

Advocates for the Forest of Nisene Marks