Jon Blanchard* - President
Dan Ardoin - Vice President
Rich Niles* - Treasurer
Kandie Miller - Secretary
Mike Leedom* - Trail Advocate/Meetup
Randy Williams - Trail Builder/Website
Luis Escobar* - Trail Consultant
Donna Beal - Events
Gayle Vyenielo - Events
Chad Hinkle - Fundraising
David Kisner - Biological Consultant
Ron Lovell* - Website
Will Cronan - Public Relations/Website
Valerie Trenev - Membership
*founding board member
The Santa Maria Valley Open Space non-profit formed as a group of volunteers with a common interest in creating recreational trail system that would serve the community of Orcutt and the general Santa Maria Valley. The Central Coast is blessed to have magnificent natural resources for us to enjoy. The surrounding area has State and County beaches, Point Sal, the Los Padres Forest, which many of us will travel to enjoy. However, no natural undeveloped public open space is available to Valley residents for passive and spontaneous recreation. Urbanization of the valley continues and encroaches upon the natural areas and will remove the semi-rural character of our community. The community of Orcutt is surrounded by the natural beauty of rolling hills that serve as an important resource for ranching and oil field operations but lack public access that could provide recreational opportunities for the people who live in the community. The recent enforcement of private property rights on properties in south Orcutt by the County Sheriff Department in 2011 has eliminated the only “unofficial” trail system that was being used by the community.
The group was formed by Luis Escobar who rallied together folks he met on the extensive trails that line Orcutt Hill. The movement quickly spread by word of mouth and continues to grow and be supported as an active citizen’s group within our community that promotes the creation of a public trail system and natural open space for passive and spontaneous recreation.
Orcutt is a designated planning area of Santa Barbara County. The general planning and development goals prepared by Santa Barbara County, and approved by our Board of Supervisors in 1997, are presented in the Orcutt Community Plan. The Plan realized the need for a public trail system and recreational open space that are outlined in the planning documents for our community when it was young and still had many open spaces enjoyed by residents who still live here today. A detailed map of 42 miles of public foothill trails that are to be built as part of the growing community are described including the means and methods to implement the system. The Plan predicted that without an “official” public trail system that the then extensive “informal” trail systems on Solomon and Newlove Hills (aka Orcutt Hill), the Airport property, and other open areas would eventually be diminished with increasing use, would eventually become overwhelming for property owners to tolerate, and that the land would eventually posted “No Trespassing”, which is exactly where we are today. Many of the “unofficial” trails and open spaces that existed within the community when the Plan was written are now gone because of infilling development on those tracts of land, and has likely contributed to the increased use of trails on Orcutt Hill in recent years. Link to the Orcutt Community Plan.
The view of the group is to understand the current status and any obstructions to creating the public trail system described in the Orcutt Community Plan, to move that plan forward as quickly as possible, to start eliminating our trail deficit and a get some trails off of paper and on the ground, and to search and promote the creation of open space and public trails in and around the Santa Maria Valley. The short term goals will be to ask citizens to vocalize our support for the public trail system that is a key ingredient in the recipe in keeping Orcutt a happy and healthy place to live. Our representatives need to hear from us to gain confidence and support in making decisions on how to best achieve this goal, and to keep the public trail system and allowance for open space a goal that goes hand and hand with development.
We approach this project as partners in the community. The issues are many, patience and cooperation are a must, and respect for one another and compromise will be an essential element to our ability to move forward. We will eventually enjoy a public trail system that is comprehensive, appreciated, and adds value to our community, and private property. The system must reduce liability risks and exposure to those landowners who are mostly likely to have to give up the most to achieve this goal in the short term. The partnership must be able to motivate and join with the County, landowners, oil companies, ranchers, citizens and those we have not yet realized by listening, actively volunteering our personnel time and resources toward this goal, understanding the goals and perspectives of each party, and making adjustments so that the result is win-win for each and everyone who contributes to the commitment to build public trails.
“Open” is an important element to developing passive and spontaneous recreational resources for the community. The trails must be open 7 days a week, sunup to sundown, and without trail-head fees to access them. A place where you can stop at home on a Wednesday night after work, grab a water bottle and your dog, and be on a trail and heading up the hill 5 or 10 ten minutes later. For public trails to add value and happiness to the community, access to the trail system must be able to be integrated with daily routines, activity, and schedules spontaneously. The Plan stated more than 15 years ago that “Currently there are no officially designated public hiking, equestrian or off-road bike paths within the Orcutt area. These trails and staging areas will provide a complete and interconnecting trail system, facilitating access for pedestrians, equestrians, and bicycle trail users between jobs, shopping, schools, park facilities, the SMPA (airport), and the local foothills.” The open space elements of the Plan identify areas along the Solomon foothills and Orcutt Creek that are necessary to preserve the character of a semi-rural community and create trail system that is within a natural setting.
The Santa Maria Valley Open Space non-profit is committed to helping fulfill short and long term goals to build the public trails and open space resources that are planned for our community. We look forward to extending this partnership to the County, private landowners, oil companies, agriculture, and others to implement the system that is win-win for everyone.
The Santa Maria Valley Open Space mission is to establish public trails in a natural setting for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding that will allow passive and spontaneous access and to serve the Santa Maria Valley and surrounding areas.
We are residents of the Santa Maria Valley that love to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and look for ways to bring trails to our area. We began in 2010 by advocating for a trail system on Orcutt Hill. In 2011 we attained non-profit status and with generous financial donations from many people and countless hours donated by our Board and supporters, we now have a wonderful trail system.
Passive access means that trails are open to the general public and that membership to a club or organization is not required for their use.
Spontaneous access means that the trail is accessible 7 days a week, from at least sunup to sun down (and preferably 24-7-365), and do not require reservations, permits, or approvals prior to use by the general public.
The trail system should provide for multi-use which include hiking, running, cycling, equestrian and dogs.
Dogs are free to use all trails when accompanied by their owner, either on a leash or within the voice control of their master. Dog owners are responsible for picking up and packing out their dog’s poo, and to leash dogs as a courtesy when encountering other trail users that may be uncomfortable with dog or when passing in narrow sections of the trail.
Natural settings are those areas that are open and away from buildings, roads and the built environment, and provide opportunities for trail users to experience quiet, seclusion, and observe nature.
Public access and free access for all and interactions with nature are an integral and vital part of a healthy community. The community should commit to creating public access to open spaces where members of the community can actively enjoy the beautiful hills, meadows, fields and wild life that surround the Santa Maria Valley.
User or trail head parking fees preclude spontaneous access and deter use. Trail funding for easements, construction and maintenance should be obtained from other sources and likely necessitate volunteer work crews and donations to create a successful trail system.
Those who use public trails are the primary stewards of those trails, and have an obligation to assist with time and resources to maintain them.
Trails are to be used for non-motorized (electric, gas or otherwise) access, with provision for non-motorized bicycles.
We accept nationally recognized “Leave-no-trace” principals: pack out whatever you pack in; when encountering trash left by others, pick it up and pack it out; be courteous in your outdoor manners and respect others; be considerate and minimize and avoid impacts to the natural environmental and resources to whatever extent is reasonably possible; respect wild life; hike on durable surfaces and minimize erosion.
Always respect property rights and accompanying land uses (such as cattle, oil field operations, or neighboring residents and property).