June 2022 Summary Thus Far…
June 16th Webinar - At the webinar on the Recreation Master Plan held by Ray Ford on June 16th, Mr. Ford talked about the Rec Plan and opportunities it would provide for landowners up till the last 10 minutes. Then, when asked about the Live Oak Trail Mr. Ford took the opportunity to characterize equestrians as selfish and even going so far as to say we resent the hikers on the Live Oak Trail. When equestrians protested (as directed via the Zoom meeting Chat), equestrian comments/questions/protests were ignored.
Having talked with many of you, the consensus is that hikers are a non-issue and are welcome on Live Oak Trail. Most of us have had friendly conversations with hikers and trail runners and for the most part all have been respectful and equestrians to them. It is nice to see.
Now ask yourself, has anyone (other than fellow equestrians) talked with any of you trail riders and asked what you think? The people managing our trails do not know anything about what horseback riders think, need or want in a trail system. No one has reached out to equestrians to start a conversation about everyone’s (all trail users) trail wants and needs, how to design trails for all trail users – including equestrians - or addressed the conflicts we know are inherent on our County trails, even though we have asked many times for that to happen. Think about the message that’s being perpetuated – personal assumptions, biases and untruths. Our meeting attendance and letters are chances to set the record straight and gain a seat at the table to plan Live Oak Camp and Trail. Our work is more important than ever.
June 23rd Parks Commission Meeting - A contingent of equestrian trail riders attended the Park Commission Meeting on Thursday, June 23rd at Cachuma Lake. Equestrians spoke up for the proper review and public comment for the Live Oak Trail Pilot Project and brought news of a new trail riding discipline, International Mountain Trail Challenge Association or IMTCA. Mountain Trail Challenge is a relatively new international equestrian “extreme sport” which is fun and exciting to watch and participate in. Recently a permanent trail course was constructed, and a clinic held by Mark Bolender at Flag Is Up Farms. The Santa Ynez Valley Star carried a two-page spread on the new sport and copies of the newspaper were handed out to the Commissioners to educate on the variety of equestrian sports, demonstrate the growth of trail riding and the on-going trail demands by equestrians.
The Director of Community Services, George Chapian, who serves over the Parks Department informed the audience that Live Oak Trail Pilot Project could not be discussed because of pending litigation on the Live Oak Trail and the Commissioners (or any County employees, boards or commissions) cannot comment on Live Oak as advised by County Counsel.
This does not mean that the public (us equestrians) cannot continue to write letters and speak at meetings. These information items will go into the public record. It only means they cannot respond, so please continue to show up for meetings, send letters, etc. and advocate for safe equestrian trails. It all helps build our case to keep Live Oak Trail safe for equestrians.
What’s Next??? – Recreation Management Plan Meeting at Cachuma Lake. Please see our Trail Blog post above for details!