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Santa Barbara County Trails Council to Celebrate Formal Opening of Jesusita Trail Reroute

Homeowner's donation of easement allows new trail to replace damaged and dangerous section

The Santa Barbara County Trails Council (SBTC) will be hosting a formal opening of a new 900-foot-long section of Jesusita Trail at 9 a.m. Thursday. The new trail bypasses a dangerous section that has caused serious injury to at least one hiker.

The ceremony will honor Sofia Gallina for her generous donation of the easement for the new trail segment; the tireless work of nearby neighbor Art Najera, who spearheaded the effort; and the city of Santa Barbara for its help in securing the easement.

SBTC executive director Ray Ford described the project as one of the most important achievements in recent trail history.

“This was a true collaboration between everyone, and especially Mrs. Gallina, who demonstrated a real selflessness,” Ford said. “Clearly, she felt a real need to make the contribution to help us improve the trail’s safety.”

In 1995 and then again in 1998, historic storms caused huge damage to the Jesusita Trail, particularly one section several hundred yards from the Cater trailhead. For a period of time the trail was re-routed across the creek along the west bank and then back up to the exiting trail. In 1998, that was washed away, too. Unfortunately, the hillside continued to erode despite continued efforts to repair the damage after each rainy season.

After the 2005 floods, it was clear that action was needed to create a permanent fix, especially after local hiker Sue Jackson was seriously injured when she slid off the trail and tumbled 15 feet into the creek bed. However, it wasn’t until after the Jesusita Fire that SBTC felt it was time to take action.

“With the hillside vegetation completely burned off after the fire,” Ford added, “laying out a route was no longer a problem. One of the big problems was the huge amount of poison oak in the area, but that, too, was gone!”

In January 2010, Ford; Najera, a former SBTC president; and current president Otis Calef met at the Jesusita trailhead with the intention of determining if an alternative route could be flagged that would avoid the slide area, eliminate the dangerous dropoffs and move the trail away from the creek.

“As we walked up and across the denuded hillside we discovered that it would be easy to build such a trail if we could get permission from the property owner over whose land the re-route would go,” Ford said. “Fortunately, Art knew Mrs. Gallina and he was assigned the task of talking with her about the easement. Amazingly, she was happy to help us out.”

A year-and-a-half later, with the help of many Santa Barbara city staff members, a huge amount of help from Jill Zachary, the city’s assistant Parks & Recreation director, and approval of the easement by the City Council, the easement was recorded late last summer.

The ribbon-cutting will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday. If you would like to join SBTC for the ceremony, follow San Roque Road north across Foothill Road to the Jesusita trailhead parking area, which is immediately past the Cater Water Treatment Plant. SBTC members will guide those who wish to join us to the start of the reroute.

Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara County Trails Council, or call 805.886.5776. Connect with the Santa Barbara County Trails Council on Facebook.

Winter storms severely damaged the Jesusita Trail in 2011.
Winter storms severely damaged the Jesusita Trail in 2011. (Santa Barbara County Trails Council photo)

 

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