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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

Hiking trail and wildlife corridor from Nisene to Cabrillo nearing finalization

by Kathryn Britton

October 2009

Nisene 2 Sea, a mid-Santa Cruz County grass roots organization, has been working since 1998 to keep a corridor of public lands between the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay open for public use. A key link in this corridor is the privately-owned but undeveloped 142-acre Koch Property which has been used for decades by the public for access between Cabrillo College lands and The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

In 1998, the property was purchased from the Koch family by two San Jose real estate development companies, S&P Carmichael Enterprises, Inc. and Men-Chy Properties, who hoped to build a number of estate homes there and block all historic public access.

To date the developers have not succeeded in their development effort and have not yet restricted public use of the extensive trails on this property. The developers continue to state that when they start development, they will block all public access.

In April 2008, the County of Santa Cruz approved a large view home and barn on the property. This approval was granted in return for the developers’ transfer of the "County Trail Easement," a public trail route across their acreage connecting Cabrillo College property to the Vienna Woods Trail in The Forest of Nisene Marks. Second District Supervisor, Ellen Pirie, was pivotal in securing this trail easement.

In late April 2009, the developers finally filed their application for a building permit to build the hillside home but, to date, have delayed in clearing up deficiencies in the application which must be approved before building can begin.

Since grading cannot proceed during the winter months, the earliest building can start is after April 15, 2010. As a result, it is likely that the entire 142 acres will continue to remain open for public use until then.

Nisene 2 Sea has successfully raised the estimated $7500 needed to complete the formal survey of the County Trail Easement. The County is ready to move forward without delay when the trail easement is formally conveyed to the County. The ultimate goal is to have the trail completed and available for public use before the developers block public access through the 142 acres.

 


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