In a first for Santa Barbara County trails, a group of women equestrian trail riders, members of the Santa Ynez Valley Riders and Live Oak Trail Patrol, met just prior to Trails Day, to reduce weeds in the vicinity of the Live Oak Trailhead kiosk and clear brush along the entry trail.
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A New Approach to Trail Maintenance
The equestrian trail riders group uses a new approach to trail maintenance. They use various assignments that provide volunteers of all ages, skills and abilities to participate. Timing of trail maintenance days considers the most advantageous time to do the work. Additionally, they strategically remove invasive weeds before they set seed. This results in avoiding the proliferation of millions of new weedy plants the following year – in other words, to plan ahead.
commented Kathy Rosenthal, the group’s organizer.
“We are gentle with ourselves and listen to the land. Too many traditional trail maintenance techniques disturb the soil and the surrounding vegetation to the extent that natural features such as rocks, bushes and small trees are removed. Thus creating what are becoming wide freeways through our forests, woodlands, and grasslands rather than trails. The wider, flatter trails and their repetitive maintenance requirements are easily eroded and become magnets for invasive weeds.
Instead of the usual “blow and go” method, the group does a little bit of trail work at a time. The work usually takes place in 1-2 hours during the cool, early morning hours. This is an exceptionally time beautiful at the trailhead. The timing also works better for the volunteers and is less disruptive to neighboring wildlife. Keeping the work footprint small and focused allows the group to do quality work, while minimally disturbing the area surrounding the trail.
Equestrian Trail Riders Want to Enjoy the Beauty of Nature
Equestrian trail riders have ridden Live Oak Trail for the last 30 years. In addition, it was part of the Rancho San Marcos for hundreds of years before that. In all that time, very few incidents requiring trail maintenance occurred. However, opening the trail last year to hikers expanded the use. Yet, this presented a new set of challenges that the County Parks Division was not prepared to take on. This equestrian trail riders group fills that void. They purpose to restore and maintain the historic trail for what hiking and equestrian riding enthusiasts look for in this wild and remote area: to safely enjoy the peace and beauty of nature.
Before and After pictures of the Live Oak Trailhead Kiosk
Enjoy Live Oak Trail
Live Oak Trail is open to equestrians and hikers. No bicycles, motor vehicles, or dogs (on or off leash) are allowed. A $10 per car day use fee is required (remember to bring exact change). Be sure and carry plenty of water. Shade trees have recently been blocked off and are excluded from the public’s use. Temperatures can be extreme. Please obey all trail rules, be courteous, and respectfully enjoy this special place.
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