The Santa Barbara County Trails Council, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports the use of trails for recreation, announced a milestone event in its campaign for the California Coastal Trail.

The Trails Council received an endowment providing $500,000 in funding for the first phase of the Gaviota Coastal Trail, a new public parking lot and connecting access trail. This scenic new trail will be first phase of the planned 20-mile Gaviota Coastal Trail, which, when completed, will reach from Bacara Resort & Spa to Gaviota State Park. Trail easement dedication and funding will be accompanied by dedication of more than 100 acres of conservation easements.

In partnership with Brooks Street, a team developing a portion of the Paradiso del Maré property, and with the unanimous 5-0 vote by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors denying recent project appeals, the Trails Council is one step closer to expanding trail access along the Gaviota Coast.

As the supervisors stated during the hearing, this result, in part, was because of the balance of conservation, public interest and property owner land rights. The Paradiso del Maré project has dedicated more than 100 acres of the property to a conservation easement, which will protect the rural character of the property for generations to come, dedicated easements for the California Coastal Trail spanning the width of the property, an auxiliary loop trail, identified vertical beach access and an area for safe, public onsite parking.

Working together, the Trails Council and Brooks Street believe this project is a positive example of cooperation between developers and the community for future Gaviota projects that will offer great public benefits.

“We’re really happy with our agreement and the support for the California Coastal Trail that the developer of Paradiso has given to the county,” said Otis Calef, president of the Santa Barbara County Trails Council. “This may finally be a chance to realize a dream of ours that dates back to the Coastal Act of 1972.”

Issues related to trail construction feasibility were recently resolved with the establishment of a $500,000 endowment, funded by Brooks Street. The specific purpose of this funding is to begin implementation of the proposed Paradiso del Maré public access easements. The Trails Council is slated to manage the endowment and coordinate fundraising for the estimated $1.5 million needed to complete the pedestrian bridge over the Union Pacific Rail Road, parking area, and a network of trails.

The Trails Council has established a California Coastal Trail Fund to accept donations specifically for this project. Community members can donate to the fund by clicking here.

— Mark Wilkinson represents the Santa Barbara County Trails Council.