Proposal for Legitimizing the Trail Network at UCSC

This document describes the benefits and logistics for legitimizing a shared-use trail network on the UCSC campus. A trail network can be constructed for very little cost to the University and will have many positive benefits to both the University and the local community.

The objective is a network of environmentally sustainable trails on the campus which can be enjoyed by all trail users. The trails will be maintained by volunteer labor and managed by the local trail worker community. The trails will have proper signage and information stations or kiosks. The kiosks can have interpretive signs, trail etiquette, emergency numbers, a map of the trail network.

The Benefits of a Trail Network

There are many positive environmental, health and community benefits from creating a legitimate trail network.

Environmental Benefits

The chief cause of soil erosion is from water run off from improper trail design. Having properly designed trails with correct alignments and slopes will significantly reduce erosion concerns.

A current problem on the campus reserve lands are the proliferation of environmentaly unsound trails. Having a legitimate trail network could reduce or eliminates the proliferation of renegade trails. Part of the problem lies with the fact that there are no official trail maintenance activities so that the trail conditions are allowed to degrade. For example, when a fallen tree over a trail is not cleared then it becomes an obstacle. If the tree is low enough then an "A frame" is constructed over the tree. For larger trees, a new trail is rerouted around the fallen tree.

Managing a legitimate trail network allows possibilities for seasonal trail closures when trails conditions warrant it. Seasonal trail closures at Wilder Ranch are respected by the cycling community because it is understood that they will re-open when the conditions are dry.

Recreational trails will reduce or eliminate and bike use on sensitive trails like Seven Springs and the Interpretive (Numbers) trail. Currently, there isn't a comprehensive trail map so out of town riders who are unfamiliar with the reserve will stumble around exploring the trails. Part of legitimizing the trails means having clear signage. If the recreational trails are challenging and enjoyable enough then there would be no reason for riding on trails intended for classes and nature study.

Opportunities for expanding environmental education curriculum

A multi-use trail network may provide opportunities for expanding the environmental curriculum. For example, the design and implementation of the trail network could be studied. Different strategies of trail design could be studied for the effects of erosion and user group conflict.

MBOSC is an IMBA affiliated club. We have the opportunity to utilize the trail development experience and techniques from IMBA which includes their Trail Care Crew (TCC) and Trail Solutions programs. Visits from IMBA trail experts can help to educate students and volunteers about sustainable trail design and construction techniques.

Recreational Opportunities for Students

A well maintained trail network opens the possibility for students to utilize the trails for student activities like hiking, trail running and mountain biking. The UCSC cycling club could develop a mountain bike team and host events like races.

Mountain biking is a fun but strenuous activity. There are many health benefits to mountain biking from preventing obesity to a stress relief from the pressure of academia. Healthy students are happy students.

Convenient Outdoor Recreation

The recent explosion in the number of people participating in outdoor recreation has led to an increased demand for bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Participation rates for trail uses, such as hiking, walking, mountain biking, and in-line skating have experienced phenomenal growth in recent years.

The number of bicyclists alone in this country grew from 72 million to 99 million in the decade leading up to 1993 (Bicycle Safety-Related Research Synthesis FHWA, 1995). Multi-use trails provide convenient access to the outdoors for enjoyment and relaxation while promoting health and fitness activities.

These trails are becoming especially popular among people living in cities and suburban areas, where close to home recreation opportunities are scarce.

Community Relations

Volunteer Community Service is a crucial part of undergraduate education at UCSC. Merrill College, Oakes College and Colleges 9 and 10 for example, have service learning built into the general mission, goals, and objectives of the college and a number of student organizations and fraternities and sororities have community service requirement for their members.

Working on the campus recreational trails with the trail maintenance community allows students to fulfill their community service requirements. Trail work is a great way to take a break from study and enjoy the outdoors, meet the local community and will learn trail building techniques. Student volunteers and projects may be co-ordinated using the resources at the Student Volunteer Connection and

Town and Gown relations between the University and the City of Santa Cruz has recently been pretty low. Giving back to the community by providing recreational trails would be a gesture of good will. The trail users in the community would feel much more supportive of the University.

The development and ongoing maintenance of the trail network can be used as an example and a case study which can illustrate the partnerships between UCSC and the local community to achieve a collective goal.

Economic Opportunities

All across the country, bicycle and pedestrian facilities are proving to be a wise economic investment for the communities through which they pass. Studies have shown that they stimulate local economies by attracting bicyclists, hikers and equestrian and other tourists to an area.

Having a legitimate trail network will provide a number of economic benefits to the community. These benefits extend to both the University, the City and the local bike industry.

UCSC Summer Conference Services

The UCSC Summer Conference Services generate a considerable amount of money for UCSC. According to the July 3, 2000 issue of UCSC Currents, the conference program generates more than $3.5 million annually for UCSC. Conference guests occupy the 2,400 beds at UCSC's nine residential colleges, purchasing food and other services from the campus. Income from the summer helps to offset room-and-board rates charged to UCSC students by about $200 each year. Income is also returned to UCSC's colleges to help support student programs.

According to the May 30th issue of UCSC Currents, the past 5 years has added housing for approximately 2,000 additional students. On UC campuses, housing is a self-supporting enterprise, which means that 100 percent of the costs for operations and debt must be covered by the rental rate structure and other revenue generated from the enterprise. As significant amounts of housing has been added to the inventory in recent years, the debt for these units has added substantially to the overall rate structure. This debt over a long period of time so that the impact on rates is gradual. The recent acceleration of UCSC housing growth has placed a strain on the rate structure so the subsidies from the Summer Conference programs become even more important.

A legitimate trail network would make the the campus a desirable venue for holding events in the for the mountain bike industry and other environmental groups. UCSC would be a wonderful place for IMBA to have a national summit.

In 2004, Specialized Bicycles held an event using the UCSC Conference Services where they invited the bike industry media sales and distributing representatives from all over the world to introduce their 2005 product line. Specialized's guests enjoyed the facilities and the open space around the University. The event was considered a success and they plan to use the facilities this summer.

City of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a desirable tourist destination which offers numerous and diverse outdoor recreational opportunities. The City already has an infrastructure of hotels, motels, restaurants and attractions to support recreational trail users.

Mountain biking is a global activity. Mountain bikers from all over the world recognize that Santa Cruz is a great destination for riding. These riders stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants, rent bikes and buy products from local shops. Expanding the existing regional trail network will create longer stays for mountain bike tourists and will provides additional tourism revenue.

Local Bike Industry

There are over 30 bicycle related businesses in Santa Cruz County including several industry leading manufacturers such as Fox Racing Shox, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Bell Sports, Kestrel, and Calfee Carbon Bikes. The local bike industry generates over $130 million in annual revenues and employs over 500 workers. The bicycle industry is an environmentally friendly industry whos products provide healthy, non-polluting, and sustainable transportation and recreation.

Promotion of bicycling including mountain biking by expanding the trail network will help grow the local bike industry and businesses which support the bike industry. This provides employment to local residents.

Building the Trail Network

A great trail can be built for very little or no cost to the University. It would be very desirable to maintain the challenging quality of the trails so that renegade trail builders do not feel that they have to construct challenging trails.

Much of the trail network at UC has been constructed over the years by the use patterns of various recreational user groups.

Many of the existing trails which are environmentally sound may be left intact. The damage to other areas may need to be fixed and realigned. Some redundant trails may need to be decommissioned.

MBOSC could help survey and prepare a detailed GPS topographic map of the existing trails. A comprehensive trail map may be used as a focal point for discussion of trail maintenance activities. is a volunteer organization which is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the system of trails in Santa Cruz county. They have a lot of expertise and experience in designing and maintaining trails and would be willing to help with the design of the trail network, organizing projects and co-ordinating volunteer labor.

The Santa Cruz Bicycle Industry Coalition (SCBIC) represents the interests of the local bicycle industry which includes manufacturers of bicycles and components and the local bike shops. SCBIC supports the idea of legitimizing the trails at UCSC. They can be counted on for donations and raffle items which can be used to raise money for hard costs like signage, bridges and fencing.

The design, construction and maintenance of the trail network can be done with volunteer labor. Many local and regional mountain bikers and organizations have expressed support for legitimizing the trail network and would be willing to volunteer to make it happen.

Fulfillment of the UCSC Bicycle Plan

According to a draft of the 1992 Bicycle Plan, recreational off-road bicycle use has been recognized as one of the uses of the land.

Section 4.18 proposes that "bike trails" be developed for recreation:

This plan recognizes the appeal of providing some off-road bicycling opportunities for the local community while protecting the campus environment; it also recognizes the futility of attempting to ban all off road recreational bicycling. Therefore, it is recommended that some off-road bike routes or "bike trails" be developed, designated and maintained for the specific purpose of off-road bicycle recreation..."

MBOSC,, SBCIC and the local community can work with the various organizations within UCSC to help fulfill this part of the plan.

In part 5 of the January 2005 UCSC Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), The section on Campus Resource Land (CRL) states:

In the event that the campus determines during the during the term of the 2005 LRDP that it needs to develop some portion of this land, it will conduct additional environmental review and will seek an LRDP amendment.

The LRDP could easily be amended to allow for the development of mountain biking trails as part of the goals of the 1992 Bicycle Plan.

About Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC)

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) is an IRC 503(c) non-profit educational organization which is dedicated to the promotion of mountain biking in a healthy and environmentally sound manner. MBOSC is an affiliate club of International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).

MBOSC was founded in 1997 to raise money towards the purchase of the Gray Whale Ranch that was added to Wilder Ranch State Park.

More information about MBOSC can be found at

MBOSC's Achievements

MBOSC raised over $30,000 through raffles and donations towards the purchase of Gray Whale Ranch. We have held several joint fund raising events with the Santa Cruz County Horseman's Association to help improve trails in Wilder Ranch State Park and protect riparian habitats and the red legged frog.

MBOSC were invited by CA State Parks to serve on the Gray Whale Advisory Committee (GWAC) to help decide which trails to open in Gray Whale Rance and what precautions were necessary to prevent negative environmental and social impacts.

MBOSC prepared a detailed topographic map surveyed with GPS which shows the existing trails in Wilder Ranch State Park and Gray Whale Ranch. This map was used throughout the GWAC process to allow proper discussion of the trails and any environmentally sensitive areas.

MBOSC partnered with the Santa Cruz County Horseman's Association (SCCHA) and the Association of Concerned Trailriders (ACT) to advocate and construct the U-Con trail in the city of Santa Cruz's Pogonip park. The first multi-use trail in Pogonip that connects Henry Cowell State Park through Pogonip Park to UCSC. This trail provides an important connection for all users from the San Lorenzo Valley all the way to the ocean. This trail and collaboration has been written up in Sunset Magazine and others as a model for other user groups in the county.

MBOSC has sponsored monthly trail workdays in Wilder Ranch State Park since 1997 to improve and protect the trails for all users. In 2000, the management of trail work projects was taken over by MBOSC has supported the efforts of though volunteers and donations.

MBOSC and SCCHA has held Carrot Fest workshops to help educate bikers how to interact with horses on the trails and to de-sensitize horses to bikes. This involved practicing several scenarios in an controlled setting with bikers feeding carrots to horses and has been extremely successful.

MBOSC has conducted information stations to promote responsible mountain biking at local CA state parks and at the UCSC campus natural reserve.

Our Beliefs

We believe that mountain biking is an enjoyable, healthy and environmentally sustainable activity.

We believe that properly designed multi-use trails are the best way to allow everyone to enjoy our open space and teach mutual respect for other users. Proper trail design and ongoing trail maintenance are the biggest factors in mitigating the environmental damage and erosion that occurs from use by all user groups.

We promote the idea that mountain biking is a great activity for families and kids to help prevent obesity and gain an appreciation for natural open space.
Last modified: Fri Jun 3 00:19:56 PDT 2005