Association of Environmental Professionals Honors Trails Council Study

AEP 2014 Public Involvement/Education MERIT AWARD

Gaviota Coastal Trail and Access Study

Prepared by the Santa Barbara County Trails Council

cover-gaviota-trail-studyImagine biking or hiking continuously along California’s scenic coastline without encountering long stretches of fenced off private property and no trespassing signs forcing you onto busy coastal highways. Today many stretches of the California coast are inaccessible because, in the past, local governments failed to consider the public’s interest to protect and provide access to public coastal resources while accommodating for private development. In response, the citizens of California passed the 1972 Coastal Initiative, California Coastal Trail, with a 55% popular vote. The Coastal Initiative states, “A hiking, bicycle, and equestrian trails system shall be established along or near the coast” and that, “Ideally the trails system should be continuous and located near the shoreline.” Despite this State law, it remains challenging to coordinate the myriad of government jurisdictions and private landowners to implement the voter approved initiative.

The largely pristine Gaviota Coast stretches 20 miles between the City of Goleta and Gaviota State Park. Like the rest of California, this beautiful public coastline is continually threatened by private development. The Gaviota Coastal Trail and Access Study was prepared by the non-profit Santa Barbara County Trails Council to ensure that the public interest in the protection and expansion of coastal trails, access, parks, open space, and recreation receives sufficient attention commensurate with the Gaviota Coast’s statewide and national importance. The study provides a single source of information about existing coastal access and identifies opportunities and constraints for the completion of the voter approved California Coastal Trail.

Association of Environmental Professionals give award to Santa Barbara County Trails Council

Gaviota Coastal Trail Study Wins Award

The AEP Awards Jury found the Gaviota Coastal Trail and Access Study to provide a thorough inventory of resources for access to the Gaviota Coast in a well laid out report with excellent and informative graphics. The jury gave the study high marks for depth of detail and analysis (both qualitative and quantitative) and for publishing the results in a well-defined trails master plan. The jury was impressed how the study used a variety of media to maximize public outreach. The study is visually pleasing, with beautiful photos and figures and conveys technical analysis and key information in a public friendly format. The study is a good template for grassroots or citizen planners to inventory and describe community resources and establish a plan of action. This approach can be widely-employed by other non-profits, agencies, or advocacy groups throughout California.

The report is available online for PDF Download


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