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President’s Message

The President’s Message–January 2014

A Year to Remember

In our President’s Message—December 2012 , we promised you another significant year of accomplishments for the Advocates and the Forest of Nisene Marks. See our President’s Message— July 2013 for details of the promises kept for the first half of the year: We even gave you a little update on our summer activities in our Autumn Newsletter:

In this year end message, we’ll recap a little, cover the last couple of months of 2013 and look forward to what’s in store for 2014:

Busy as Bees

The beginning of the year had us cleaning up from a big December windstorm. An old growth fir came down in front of the Van Eck tree which required a lot of clean-up and also repairs to the split rail fencing and information kiosk. We got that taken care of and the Van Eck tree has never looked so good.

Throughout the early winter and into Spring we worked extensively on the lower network of trails. We re-routed, repaired, widened and in places, raised the trail. We fixed drainage issues and de-commissioned other trails. We built footpaths, retainers, bridges and an overlook deck— including the first ADA trail, the Waggoner Overlook trail. This trail was named after former Parks Ranger Gerry Waggoner. It was a very constructive time in the lower network (AKA the ‘Beehive’). We were busy as bees, getting ready for the 50th celebration.

Nisene turns 50

On May 19th, we celebrated the 50 year anniversary of The Forest of Nisene Parks becoming a State Park. It was a spectacular and wonderful day in every way.

The day kicked off with the ADA trail ribbon cutting, with Gerry Waggoner himself cutting the ribbon and opening the trail to the public. The trail has seen a lot of use since. It’s fantastic that now everybody has the opportunity to enjoy a stroll or a roll through the redwoods and overlook the beautiful Aptos Creek Gorge. We also dedicated 2 ADA picnic benches in honor of Paul Ticknor and Karl Mertz.

Supervisor Zach Friend, Sandy Lydon (the History Dude), Aptos Chamber’s John Hibble, Supervising Ranger Bill Wolcott, Advocates Geoff Alexander & Dave Hofkins and many others contributed to this special event.

After all the pomp and circumstance at the Ribbon Cutting, the party moved up the fire road to the Mary Easton Picnic area for a lumber-jack demonstration, family entertainment, and a BBQ.

Cal-Fire’s Ed Orre, Big Creek’s Lud McCrary, Lumberjacks Steve Liebenberg, Jerry Stoodley and Advocates Ed Gilbert & Jeff Thomson put on one heck of a lumber jack demonstration. Advocates Bob Thrash and Tanya Larson put on an equally fine BBQ, and Advocates Elisa Webb and Allison Livingston along with the Surfing Musician and Glitterfish Face Painting kept kids of all ages entertained.

Advocate Maureen Thrash deserves special acknowledgement for putting on a ‘Theater in the Forest’. Santa Cruz may have its Shakespeare in the Glen—we had Living History in the Forest with an incredible cast of characters.  Till this day,  I still can’t go by Mary Easton without thinking about that day.

Good “Friends”

This year the Advocates are extremely proud and grateful for our on-going and growing collaborative relationship with The Friends of Santa Cruz County State Parks: This year we helped Friends with their big Earth Day  clean-up in the Park. Over 100 volunteers came out to help. This year ‘Friends’ has  organized a subcommittee dedicated to Nisene Marks. Maureen and our President, Geoff Alexander, have been serving on that committee. We now have 2 great organizations helping to improve and take care of Nisene Marks.

Trailwork Days

Besides all of the Spring work on the lower network of trails, we also put up and took down the 2 seasonal bridges over Aptos Creek, we did trail work on Porter and Terrace trails, replaced split rail fencing going down to Porter Family Picnic area, and also performed some much needed maintenance and bicycle safety work on Margaret’s bridge.

Tanya Larson: Loss of our Trail Boss…and friend!

We cannot leave the subject of trail work without touching on the loss of our beloved trail boss, Tanya Larson. On January 17, 2014 our dear friend and colleague, Tanya, passed away after a brief but courageous battle with a very rare and very aggressive form of cancer. Tanya was well loved by everyone and will be missed more than words can convey. She can never be replaced. However, she will always be in our hearts. (see Memorial page link on our website) The Advocates organization is no stranger to loss. In 2009 our President, Paul Ticknor, passed away. Both Tanya and Paul loved the Park deeply and gave generously of their time, energy and talent. They left a legacy of making the Park and our community a better place.

Drought of 2013

As the end of the year approached, as the holidays came and went, and as the fire road got dustier and dustier……. the joys of sunny, glorious and warm days in the Forest started to give way to an increasingly nagging sense that something was not right. Where were our winter rains? 2013 would turn out to have the lowest rain totals since records have been kept in Santa CruzCounty. We were clearly in the midst of a 100 year drought. Water rationing and red flag fire danger is on everyone’s mind. Let us hope and pray that we will still get our late Winter and Spring rains. We need it!

2014: A year of Promise

The Advocates working closely with ‘Friends’, State Parks and all of our volunteers and donors have big plans and goals for 2014 and beyond:

Dust abatement: Due to the drought, airborne dust on the fire road and parking areas is at an all time worst. Not only is the dust unappealing, it also affects the stability of the road surface, increases vehicle maintenance for regular users and creates health concerns for all users. We are working closely with State Parks and ‘Friends’ to identify solutions.

Interpretive Panels: How many of you have enjoyed and learned more about the park and its history from the interpretive panels and maps scattered around the Park at the Van Eck trail, the Kiosk parking area and trailhead,  Porter House Site, Mill Site and the Bottom of the Incline? These were all funded and installed by the Advocates and Friends. We hope to do more in the coming years—–the Loma Prieta town site, Hoffman’s Historic Site,  Big Stump Gulch and Top of Incline  are all worthy candidates.


Mangels Gulch Trail: Some of you keen readers of our past President’s messages may recall that the Mangels Gulch Trail always seems to make a mention. This year is no different. There is still considerable interest and hope that some portion of the Mangels Gulch trail could become a reality some day. Rest assured that we are working in that direction. Suffice it to say, “It’s a process”!

Cabrillo Connector Trail: Speaking of a process—after 16 years of perseverance and hard work, a legal multi-use trail between Nisene Parks @ Vienna Trail and Cabrillo College will be officially opened on 3/28/14. The trail was roughed in this summer by the CCC and other volunteers. Credit for this whole project goes to the Nisene2Sea organization: and the tireless efforts of Kathryn Britton. Just goes to show that perseverance pays off!

Our Amazing Trails: If you think our trailworkers work hard, you should see how hard our website committee works. In 2013 they completely revamped our dated website. This year they will take on categorizing, photo documenting and outlining each of Nisene’s amazing trails. Stay tuned for more guidance and support to know where to hike, run or bike in the Park. There’s so much more to explore beyond the fire road, but don’t forget to explore our website for updates, also.

Walk, Talk and Faults:  October 17, 2014 will be the 25th Anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Local geologist Gary Griggs and historian Sandy Lydon are cooking up one heck of a commemoration. It’s shaping up to be a 3 day event of symposiums, presentations and hikes. The Advocates will be highly involved. Stay tuned for more updates.

And finally….in closing!

As a non-profit and all-volunteer organization we rely completely on you for the funding and volunteer work necessary to continue the important work that we do in the Forest. With State Parks strained budget, they are only capable of maintaining the Park at the most basic levels. They look to us and the community to make up the difference.

So please consider becoming a member, sending us a donation or volunteering on our trailwork days. Check out our website, ‘like us’ on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter. We look forward to carrying on the legacies of Paul Ticknor and Tanya Larson. They’ve showed us the way and blazed the trail. With your help, we can follow in their footsteps and continue to preserve and improve this little gem of a Park that sits right in our backyard.

Happy New Year everybody….See you in the Forest!

Geoff Alexander

President, Board of Directors


John Fuchs

Vice-President Board of Directors

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