Community leaders and neighbors gathered recently in front of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School (SYVUHS) for the recent groundbreaking of the Refugio Road Trails Restoration Project, a joint project between Santa Barbara County’s Public Works Department and the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade.
The project features trails connecting SYVUHS and Samantha Drive along Refugio Road, and includes opportunities for community members to participate in an upcoming volunteer work day, 8:30 a.m. Saturday Oct. 8 in front of SYVUHS. Participation can help youth earn volunteer hours.
To sign up for the work day, visit https://sbco.mysocialpinpoint.com/refugiotrail/.
At the groundbreaking event, community members Faith Deeter and Jessica Schley were commended for their efforts to bring the trail to fruition. Recognizing them was Third District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose office secured $250,000 in funding to complete this project as part of the safe-routes-to school program.
Deeter and Schley identified that the Refugio Road trail is mapped in the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan, and enlisted the support of neighboring schools and organizations including SYVUHS, the Dunn School, the YMCA, WeWatch, and the County Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee toward its restoration.
“I am pleased to launch this project on behalf of the community and neighbors who identified this as a priority project for the valley,” Hartmann saud. “Creating safe pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians for commuting and recreation is a high priority for me.”
SYVUHS Superintendent Andrew Schwab noted the importance of the trail for the safety of students walking and biking to school.
Abe Powell, co-founder/president of the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, addressed the benefits of community-led projects, referencing the trail projects the Bucket Brigade has completed in other regions of the county which, like this one, also featured volunteer work days.
“When neighbors take direct action and participate in improving their own neighborhoods, a new level of connection and community pride is created,” he said. “The trails we built in Montecito after the Jan. 9 debris flow have led to healthier, more connected and resilient neighborhoods.”
Powell said the Refugio Road Trails Restoration is a project “for the community, by the community.”
“This project will feature a stabilized earth trail on the high school side of Refugio Road that will be well-suited for pedestrian and cycling use and an informal, trail on the east side of the road which will be conducive to equestrian use,” said Chris Sneddon, deputy director for Santa Barbara County’s Public Work Department. “Both trails will feature buffers from the road.”
Sneddon said his department held community meetings seeking suggestions for the trail design and he spent time notifying and working with neighbors about the alignment of the trails.