President's Report

Santa Maria Valley Open Space President’s Report February 2018 (pdf version)


2018 Annual Report
Open Space is a non-profit corporation dedicated to creating trails and open space in the Santa Maria Valley. In 2018 volunteers working through Open Space completed more than 500 hours of trail work to create, improve and restore trails in our community.  Through support and fundraising we have been able to purchase tools, materials and develop plans for new trails and open space on Orcutt Hill.  Our team has also been active supporting Santa Barbara County Park at Orcutt Hill, the City of Santa Maria at Los Flores Ranch, and the County third district at Point Sal.

We continued our renewed mission from 2017 to have our primary focus on maintaining, building and developing new trails in natural areas for hiking, biking, trail running, horseback riding, dog walking. We are the primary volunteer organizations that services trails and open in the Santa Maria Valley that are operated by County parks.  This renewed mission has meant that we have hosted less social events such as moon-light hikes, talks, and speaking events. However, our new mission and responsibilities and expertise in designing and building sustainable trails brings us into 2019 with a backlog of trail building goals and projects to complete that will be challenging with the limited numbers of volunteers we have available. Nonetheless, we are excited by these prospects and continue to build a team of trained, skilled, and committed volunteers who are trusted to lead and complete trail projects.

2018 brought to light the need for more open space as the Rice Ranch Development continues to build-out.  While we appreciate the space and cooperation the developers have had in creating the Open Space at Rice Ranch and allowing us to use trails through future development areas, the demand for trails has increased. Heavy trail use on Orcutt Hill is causing erosion and requires frequent trail maintenance to improve drainage, fix damaged areas, and restore areas of severe erosion, such as the recent Scout Trail Reroute Project. 

Open Space has no employees and is 100 percent supported by donations from residents and businesses, and by fund raising events.  Funds are needed to cover insurance that is required to host volunteer efforts on public land, corporate costs, and for tools and equipment.  At the end of 2018 we carried $12,656.11.  Our income and expenditures are summarized in the charts below. The majority of 2018 expenditures were to purchase a significant amount of tools that we house in a storage unit provided by County Parks. Annual Financial Report (pdf)

Open Space led over 30 field activities on trails in 2018 that included nearly 500 hours of volunteer work on trails.  These efforts reflect a benefit of approximately $12,000 to the public agencies we serve based on recognized equivalent labor rates for volunteer hours. A summary of our primary accomplishments follows:
•    Maintained 8 miles of trail on Orcutt Hill at the Rice Ranch and Cobblestone Open Spaces, improved drainage, rebuilt switchbacks, designed and built the Scout Trail Reroute, and restored eroded trails on the former route. These efforts are scoped and programmed through Santa Barbara County Parks. 
•    Provided docents to lead three hikes at Orcutt Hill for more than 200 elementary students.
•    Participated and led trail maintenance activities for the City of Santa Maria at Los Flores Ranch that included general maintenance, trimming several miles of trail, trail design and finish work on the Red Tail Trail, and layout for new trails.
•    Began trail design and layout for a new trail system on a 40-acre private parcel that we hope to complete and incorporate into the County trail system in 2019. 

Goals for 2019
2019 will be exciting year.  The founders of Open Space were instrumental in motivating the County and community to adopt the public open space at Rice Ranch and open our first public trail system of its kind in the spring of 2012.  These trails have become an asset to the community and are used by local high schools for cross country running and mountain bike teams.  These trails have become a part of the health and happiness of our community and are visited by many folks from the Santa Maria Valley.
•    Add new trail at Orcutt Community Park within the Scout Trail area with a loop that can be taken from the park.
•    Work with private land owners and public agencies to add several miles of new trails and open space for public access.
•    Work with County parks to design and build a Class B (dirt) trail system on 75 acres of Open Spaces at the new Righetti-Jones Ranch Development.
•    Continue to improve and maintain the Rice Ranch Trails on Orcutt Hill.
•    Continue efforts to improve and maintain trails at Los Flores Ranch.
•    Send four of our volunteer crew leaders to field training class hosted by the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers for finish machine-built sustainable trails in January. 
Open Space will host three major fundraising events in 2019. We need to raise additional funds to support building out our tool chest to maintain trails, rent equipment for machine-built trails and build funds that can be used to support future expansion of trails and open space in the Santa Maria Valley for public access and recreation.  These events will be:
•    Trailpaloosa 2019, April 27, Music festival, food and silent auction at the beautiful PCEC picnic grounds on Orcutt Hill
•    Mountain Bike Race, Rice Ranch Trails
•    5k-10k Trail Run at Rice Ranch

You can help by donating now at: If you would like to join the trail team or hep please visit the web site and register so you can receive emails about our work days and activities.

Happy Trails!

Jon Blanchard

© 2019 by Santa Maria Valley Open Space | a California non-profit corporation