We Want Wild Cherry Canyon
[Update: This project is apparently not happening but I want it to happen. Can we still make it happen?]
If someone offered your community public access to a 2,400 acre coastal property near Avila Beach with sweeping views and incredible outdoor recreation possibilities, how could you say no? What if the property connects with another preserved parcel that would together increase the size of Montaña de Oro State Park by 65% and help complete the California Coastal Trail through this corner of the Central Coast? Yes, yes: how do we make this happen?
Say hello to Wild Cherry Canyon. Now that all the logistical hard work has been done by a small team of dedicated land preservationists, the only thing we need to do is finish raising the $1 million the State of California requires for an endowment to fund the management and maintenance of these additional parklands. The ever generous Hind Foundation has sweetened the funding effort with a fat $181,000 in hopes that dollars attract dollars. Let’s rally to raise this money because this is an opportunity that will never come again for Central Coast residents, human and otherwise.
As I wrote in a letter to Governor Brown encouraging him to support this project through its final steps in the state’s financial alleyways, “I had a chance to tour Wild Cherry Canyon in fall 2010 and was just amazed with the new views made possible from this spectacular section of California’s coast. During this tour, another local trails advocate mentioned a peculiar exchange she had with a wealthy individual about needing to attend public comment sessions on a forthcoming development project to advocate for incorporation of an adequate trails structure. ‘Why don’t you just ride your horse on your friends’ ranches?’ asked the wealthy individual.
“Because we don’t know lots of wealthy people with wide swaths of private property to enjoy, we work together to ensure access to parklands. It would be a shame if only a handful of individuals had access to the views we drank in that day, but if this property acquisition fails, you can be sure another developer will swoop in to make more McMansions. This beautiful place deserves to be shared by everyone.”
More info from the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County:
“The Wild Cherry Canyon Project is an important local conservation effort. The 5,500 acre expansion of Montaña de Oro State Park will benefit all who live and visit San Luis Obispo County for generations to come. Despite incredible community support, declining State revenue and other unforeseen circumstances have delayed this project for many months.
“To ensure success, the Friends of Wild Cherry Canyon has set a goal to raise $1 million dollars for an endowment to cover start-up construction costs, ongoing expenses, and management of this world-class property. Additional pledges of volunteer hours are being secured to build and improve trails once the property is conserved. Project supporters hope that these efforts will encourage the State Public Works Board to release $6.9 million dollars which has already been allocated for the acquisition of Wild Cherry Canyon.
“The Land Conservancy and Friends of Wild Cherry Canyon are working together to raise money for a maintenance endowment fund and to build local conservation capacity. Over$275,000 has already been raised through local pledges and donations, but we are still short of the $1 million dollar goal.”
How Can You Help?
Make a contribution. Individuals, corporations and businesses can help us reach our goal by making a pledge or donation to the Wild Cherry Canyon Project. Donate now to The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County to support the expansion of Montana de Oro State Park and open nearly 20 miles of coastal trails.
Pass this message to friends and neighbors to help spread the word about this wonderful project.
[Here’s the full letter I sent to Governor Jerry Brown in an attempt to help get Wild Cherry Canyon across the finish line.]
Dear Governor Brown,
I am writing to request your assistance expediting the protection of Wild Cherry Canyon in San Luis Obispo County. Others from my community have written to you about the fantastic but fleeting opportunity to protect this unique property near Avila Beach. Not only is it biologically and culturally rich but Wild Cherry Canyon provides a key link to Montaña de Oro State Park along which will run the California Coastal Trail. The window of financial opportunity for this project is closing soon and all that’s needed for the final $6.9 million from California State Parks to be released is a completed review of the project by the Department of General Services and the Department of Finance so it can be placed on the Public Works Board agenda. Our community craves to protect this beautiful place and ensure that everyone can enjoy the property. I respectfully request your support in helping make this project a reality.
Our Central Coast community in San Luis Obispo County takes special care of our surrounding parklands, from developing and maintaining local trails to fostering healthy discussions among various user groups about trail etiquette and sharing open spaces. Unlike many areas of California where certain user groups clash with each other, San Luis Obispo County has maintained a good level of civility in discussions and conflicts with others holding divergent views. Representatives from several groups meet together regularly to create a trails advisory board. Ours is a healthy community that strives to exercise best practices in working together so everyone can enjoy our local parks and open spaces. In fact, our State Senator Sam Blakeslee supports SB356 that would offer cities and counties an opportunity to take over operations of closed parks and promote the use of local workers and volunteers. He supports this legislation because he sees how ready his constituents are to pick up a shovel and take care of our wild spaces. My local community’s willingness to pitch in to protect and preserve vulnerable lands aligns with your mantra of personal responsibility.
I had a chance to tour Wild Cherry Canyon in fall 2010 and was just amazed with the new views made possible from this spectacular section of California’s coast. During this tour, another local trails advocate mentioned a peculiar exchange she had with a wealthy individual about needing to attend public comment sessions on a forthcoming development project to advocate for incorporation of an adequate trails structure. “Why don’t you just ride your horse on your friends’ ranches?” asked the wealthy individual. Because we don’t know lots of wealthy people with wide swaths of property to enjoy, we work together to ensure access to parklands. It would be a shame if only a handful of individuals had access to the views we drank in that day, but if this property acquisition through the American Land Conservancy fails, you can be sure another developer will swoop in to make more McMansions. This beautiful place deserves to be shared by everyone.
Thank you for considering my request. The bond funds in question have already been allocated for conservation projects within the Irish Hills and will have no impact on the general fund. We appreciate your help.