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Theme: The Trail Center at the End of the Millennium

A Brief History of the Trail Center

The National Volunteer Project and National Outdoor Volunteer Network

The Changing Face of Volunteerism

The Changing Face of Public Lands

A Trail Center Index

A Catalog of Trail Projects, 1983-1999

Other Features

Support California Parks and Wildlife in the March 7th Election

Following the Ridgelines

In Memoriam: Will Rudge

Discovering the Textured Lands with a Hike up Black Mountain

Wild Lit

Note from the Literary Editor

Bear Following Birds - Maya Khosla

Union Valley Reservoir - Crystal Koch

Circles - Janice Dabney


From the Editor

Park News

Trail Center Notes

Upcoming Events

Along the Trail: Member Notes

The Trail Companion

Winter 2000

Theme: The Trail Center at the End of the Millennium

A Brief History of the Trail Center

In the early 1980s, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) received a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to create the National Volunteer Program (NVP) to set up several organizations devoted to volunteerism in the outdoors across the U.S. (see the profile of the National Volunteer Project in this issue). In the Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountain Trail Association had an excellent track record of getting volunteers out on the trail, starting with the astounding 2,500 volunteers who turned out to build the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail project for the first Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Days in 1970. Tony Look, founder of SCMTA, representatives of a number of public agencies and nonprofits, and other interested individuals, worked with the NVP to create an organization that would expand the SCMTA's Trail Days to include projects in public lands throughout the San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay Area. In 1983, the Trail Information and Volunteer Center (TIVC) was born as a "forum in which the public, land managers and land owners work as partners, to maintain and expand our area trail network, [and to] open new opportunities for citizens to participate in recreational activities on public lands they helped to purchase." The TIVC's mission, as stated in the articles of incorporation, was to "provide trail informational and educational programs for the general public and to increase opportunities for public stewardship of trails in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Francisco Counties in cooperation with public agencies, organizations and individuals."
     For the first few years, the TIVC, located in the Peninsula Conservation Center, then located near California Avenue in Palo Alto, worked closely with the SCMTA to recruit and manage volunteers for Trail Days. Hundreds of people turned out for projects all across the Santa Cruz Mountains - in 1984, 438 came out; in 1985, over 500 participated in projects in fourteen different parks. The compiler of the report on the 1984 Trail Days noted, "Perhaps too many projects were planned for one event...we purchased far too many patches."
     By spring of 1985, the TIVC had its first director, David Sutton, had moved into new quarters on El Camino Real near San Antonio Road in Los Altos and had launched its first independent program with a trail maintenance project on Bear Gulch Trail in Wunderlich County Park (San Mateo County). The first new trail construction project soon followed, with the 5,400 ft Ravenswood Trail in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Ravenswood Preserve in the SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The trail was built over 5 days with tools and gravel provided by Fish & Wildlife. Volunteers came out every other Saturday in order to complete the project before wildfowl hunting season restricted access to the preserve.
     The TIVC remained in close association with the NVP as it evolved into the National Outdoor Volunteer Network (NOVM) over the next few years and continued to search out projects beyond Trail Days with new trail construction on the whole-access Redwood Trail in Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve (Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District), maintenance on the Clarkia Trail in Edgewood County Park (San Mateo County), and others.
     The TIVC shortened its name to the Trail Center (TC) in 1987 and construction began on the longest new trail to date at Lower Stevens Creek County Park. With REI's help in recruiting and providing barbecues for volunteers, TC crews built two miles of trail, much of it tough cliff-side terrain above Stevens Creek Reservoir.
     In 1988, the TC began a series of trail rides co-sponsored by a number of Bay Area equestrian groups to raise money for the South Bay portion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Through the Ride For the Ridge events, many thousands of dollars were raised while providing an opportunity for riders to enjoy spectacular trails and countryside. Although the TC expected to use the money for trail construction immediately, Santa Clara County halted most new trail construction while they formulated a trails master plan.

Cover of Peninsula Parklands map, 1st ed. -- click for larger image
The first edition of our Peninsula Parklands map (click for larger image)
     Around the same time, the TC absorbed the West Bay Trails Council and incorporated it as the advocacy arm under the name Trails Advisory Committee. The focus of the TC had always been more oriented toward volunteerism, rather than political action, and TAC eventually withered away.
     Work began on developing the mapping program with the initial layout for the first Peninsula Parklands map. The TC stocked scores of trail maps, but until the PP map was published in 1989, no single map existed which illustrated the various public lands in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. Sunset Magazine featured the map and membership soared to an all-time high of 2200. Director Madeleine von Laue, who had risen from the ranks of volunteers after Dave Sutton left, scrambled to manage the huge influx while concurrently serving as the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council's South Bay Coordinator.

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