Live Oak Equestrian Trail/Recreation Plan Updates - January 2023
Howdy all & Happy New Year! While pausing mid backstroke :), take a look at this update on all things about equestrian trails in our little corner of the County:
Live Oak Equestrian Trail Lawsuit:
A Happy New Year indeed as we received word last week that the County will not appeal the decision on the Live Oak Equestrian Trail! This is huge as the decision in favor of equestrians and the right to have public review and comment on our trails.
Discussions are underway to determine what will be allowed on the Trail going into the near future. Until then, the Trail remains under the current unconstrained access and hikers are still allowed on the trails. Please be courteous to all you meet, as their support is important for the future of the Trail.
More Info to Help the Cause:
Last month at December’s County Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee (CRAHTAC), Parks Commission, and the Board of Supervisors, our equestrian coalition submitted a report on the inventory equestrian facilities (including trails) in surrounding Counties and compared those facilities to Santa Barbara County. The report is attached FYI.
The data show that Santa Barbara County is woefully behind the curve when providing equestrian facilities for our communities.
Most coastal Counties surveyed (Monterey south to San Diego) have at least one equestrian-only or equestrian/hiker designated trail under their County Parks and Recreation Department or District, and all but Santa Barbara County have at least one equestrian campground. We will be submitting this report to the consultant, Woods Environmental Services (WES) as information in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the County-wide Recreational Master Plan (Rec Plan).
County-wide Recreation Master Plan, Policy Report, Santa Barbara County Trails Council:
On the downside, also at the December CRAHTAC meeting, Santa Barbara County Trails Council (Trails Council) submitted a report entitled “Streamlining Trail Development in Santa Barbara County” dated October 20, 2022. A copy is attached FYI.
There are several disturbing recommendations in this report, the most glaring is that our community comments from here in the Santa Ynez Valley were not acknowledged or recommended, especially the need for more public input for trails development and the ability to allow separate and safe trails for different users. Our comments were submitted to the Trails Council for inclusion into the Rec Plan almost a year ago (December 2021). The basis of our concern is if our comments and concerns are being ignored by the County, and are we being listened to?
These developments concern us as the report recommendations propose sweeping policy decisions, driven by the Rec Plan, that would eliminate equestrian trail protections that are already in the County’s Land Use Plan. Many of the provisions for equestrian trail development or the protection for existing equestrian trails have never been enforced.
That’s all for now. We’ll bring you new announcements about the Live Oak Equestrian Trail and the challenges with Rec Plan policies in the future. Stay safe, stay dry!