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Spotlight on Volunteers: Equestrian Volunteers Make Trails in San Mateo County

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The Trail Companion (ISSN 1528-0241 (print); 1094-222X (online)) is the quarterly newsletter of the Trail Center.

Editor: Scott Heeschen
Staff Writer: Geoffrey Skinner
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The Trail Companion

Summer 1999

Spotlight on Volunteers:
Equestrian Volunteers Make Trails in San Mateo County

     The equestrian community in San Mateo County has long been a rich source of support for trails and parks, with equestrians involved in organized volunteer activities since the 1930s. Major portions of the Skyline Trail (now part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail) and the trails in the Phleger Estate (now part of the GGNRA) were built by horsemen in the Woodside Trail Club. In the early days, it was not uncommon for equestrians to sponsor 5 to 6 trail days per year and have 75 people show up each time to build and maintain trails. Local equestrians also donated time to lobby for the creation of the California State Hiking and Riding Trail (now largely incorporated into Huddart and Wunderlich County parks) and to help convince local land owners such as James Huddart and Martin Wunderlich to donate property to conserve land and secure equestrian riding trails. While there have been a succession of volunteer trail efforts over the past 70 years, the current Volunteer Horse Patrol dates from 1985. San Mateo County data on volunteer efforts for trail patrol only go back to 1986. Since then, Huddart ranger David Moore reports that 24,800 hours are on record for trail patrols through 1998. Equestrian patrols were expanded to include foot patrols in 1995.
      An additional 8,369 hours 1995-1998 of volunteer equestrian "host" activities are documented at Sam McDonald Park according to Ranger John McKinney. Host activity has been going since the early 1980s at this location, according to Rob Krensky of Los Viajeros Riding Club. The on-site hosts clean restrooms, assure appropriate facility use, provide information to visitors, and a uniformed volunteer presence at the Jack Brook Horse Camp in McDonald Park from April through October annually (an average of 2,000 hrs./yr. x 13 years=26,000 hours).
      The equestrian community continues to put great effort into supporting local trails. Although many trails are kept free of brush at hiker and bicycle level, many equestrians regularly help maintain the overhead clearance. Over 50 equestrian volunteers maintained trails at a number of venues throughout San Mateo County for the 1999 California State Trail Days, including Skyline Trail and Edgewood Park. No historical data exists for hours spent on trail construction and maintenance, but they are clearly substantial. Based on hours spent for this effort in the first six months of 1999, an extremely conservative estimate for the 1986-1999 period would be 2,600 hours. (50 people/year x 4 hours each x 13 years) of trail work. If all the documented and estimated volunteer hours donated to San Mateo County for the past thirteen years are added up (nearly 35,800 hours - also a conservative estimate!), the equestrian community has provided the equivalent of 1.3 full time staff each year in service of the park and trails of San Mateo County.
      Thanks, in part, to EnviroHorse (http://www.envirohorse.org), for data included in this article. EnviroHorse is an a educational forum for addressing issues of equine research and management related to equine land use and access.





     
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