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Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »


By on November 26, 2022 in Featured, News, Newsletter

Well-versed volunteers have been invaluable at Valley View Preserve over the past few months. A substantial amount of work has been underway on the network of trails at the preserve, and all of this incredible work has been made possible thanks to our Volunteer Crew Leaders. Earlier this year, Volunteer Crew Leaders led our trail reroutes on Luci’s Trail, and are spearheading projects on Foothill Trail. 

Volunteers assess the muddy section of Foothill Trail after a rain 

Problems with Luci’s Trail first arose when the Thomas Fire stripped the hillside surrounding the trail of native vegetation. Then the onset of the Covid pandemic led to an exponential increase in preserve usage, which had a significant impact on the trail. As a result of these two crises, Luci’s Trail was rutted by weather and trail users expanded the trail by cutting the switchbacks. Trail repairs on Luci’s have been a long time coming, but more emergent issues took priority. However, there was a silver lining to delaying the repairs on Luci’s Trail because it gave OVLC time to develop a group of solid volunteer leaders. Currently, we have four active Volunteer Crew Leaders: Dave Fleischmann, Mark Silbernagel, Emma Nathan, and Anthony Avildsen. While Dave has led volunteer trail projects elsewhere on Valley View Preserve, it was Emma, Anthony, and Mark who helped us on Luci’s Trail by leading 8 out of the 10 work trips we conducted. 

Volunteers assess the muddy section of Foothill Trail after a rain 

With Volunteer Crew Leaders leading many of these work trips, our staff was freed up to plan future projects. This included planning and implementing a reroute on the portion of Foothill Trail within Valley View Preserve that passes through a drainage area. A year ago, any rain event would make this section of Foothill Trail (near the intersection of Fox Canyon Trail), so muddy that trail users would have to walk through water and muck. As a short-term fix, we installed a plastic sandbag turnpike. Unfortunately, we had to use plastic sandbags due to a lack of local rock. Left alone, these sandbags will degrade and spread microplastic, all without having addressed the root of the problem – its problematic location. To solve this problem, we are moving the trail away from the drainage and onto the dry hillside. Once this trail reroute is completed, volunteers will then remove and repurpose the plastic sandbags (before they degrade). Having volunteers lead in the field also allowed staff to focus time and energy on securing additional grant funding from Athletic Brewing Company’s Two for the Trails Program to support this work. Thanks to this grant, we will be able to purchase new tools for the trail crews and other volunteer supplies that we need.

It’s not just our local community volunteers that have helped with Valley View Trail projects. We also had several interns, including two interns from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Watershed Stewardship Corps Program, help plan the restoration of the old trail tread. Equally important to any new trail work is the rehabilitation of the old trail and surrounding land. After all, trails users don’t want to look out on trampled terrain and restoration is integral to our mission. Therefore, as a final stage of the work done on Luci’s and Foothill Trail, we will go back and plant native plants in the old routes and shortcuts. With guidance from OVLC’s restoration team, our interns designed a specific plant palette that will be hardy enough to grow on the steep, sundrenched hillsides of Valley View Preserve. This will return the landscape to a beautiful biodiverse vista of native vegetation that stabilizes the hillside and sustains the integrity of the trail.

The return of a healthy native plant ecosystem, accessible via newly repaired and sustainable trails, is all a product of our increasingly experienced volunteer community. Our Volunteer Adopters will then take on the role of managing the trails and identifying restoration areas to help us sustain the impressive work of volunteers well into the future.

Brendan Taylor, Director of Field Programs

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