The California Coastal Commission is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
While its enormous impact on protecting our states scenic and resource-packed
shoreline is well known, many of you may not be familiar with another associated
benefit: The California Coastal Trail.
Public access was a key component of the 1976 Coastal Act. In 1979, the Coastal
Public Access Program was legislated which specifically addressed the need for
a trail route connecting public lands and other significant areas in the coastal
zone. Further impetus for the trail came in the early 80s from Sonoma County.
At that time, a group of hikers, in an effort to promote coastal access, began
a series of outings which continues to this day, known as Coastwalk.
Over the years, through the efforts of the Coastal Commission, the Coastal Conservancy
and Coastwalk, 70-75% of the California Coastal Trail has been completed. Santa
Cruz and Monterey Counties contain a vast wealth of natural resources. In our
area, the vision to create a path through spectacular scenery has already provided
thousands of walkers and hikers with opportunities to experience the rolling hills,
bird-filled estuaries, craggy cliffs, tidepools, dense pine forests, seasonal
waterfalls and historic artifacts along the shoreline.
In the last few years, support for the California Coastal Trail has grown enormously.
Aided by passage of recent park bonds, there is now funding to purchase parcels
that would fill in existing gaps in the trail. Volunteers and paid staff are working
hard on the Coastal Trail Project, a state-mandated program to plan the remaining
route of the trail and create workable maps. Input from communities around incomplete
portions is greatly needed.
In the Santa Cruz area, this includes the portion south of Depot Hill/Aptos Creek
to New Brighton Beach. Further south, imaginative ideas are needed about how to
provide a trail experience by the Moss Landing bridge because of the
traffic on Highway 1.
In Monterey County, access remains an issue in Pebble Beach, and the topography
of the section from Limekiln State Park to San Carpoforo is somewhat problematic.
Also, in many sections of the coast, there is the challenge of protecting the
fragile nesting snowy plovers.