Monday, October 20, 2014 • 01:23
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Valley Center Trails Association forging new paths



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The Valley Center Trails Association has many new changes, including new trails and pathways. photo by Courtesy photo.
July 02, 2014
Originally formed as a sub-committee of the Valley Center Community Planning Group, the Valley Center Trails Association is an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. The main goal has been to work toward implementing the trails and pathways called for in the county's Community Trails Master Plan for Valley Center for the past 15 years. The beginning of that was Heritage Trails, dedicated in 2010. That is only two and a half miles of a proposed 119-mile trail system.

Though there has been much hard work put into implementing the Master Plan, they have run into problems, especially when it comes to obtaining space for a staging area. Per Valley Center Trails Association Chairperson Rich Rudolf, part of the issue is manpower. More people are needed to implement the Master Plan. The group is looking to expand membership from 100 to 200 in order to receive a more effective response when grants are submitted, as it shows more community support.

A three-year Strategic Plan has been formulated in order to make the VCTA more effective. Current and new members will have a chance to give back to the community by putting the strategic plan into action through four committees that have been created. Each of these committees will need to have at least four to six people who are not on the Valley Center Trails Association Board of Officers. These are people who will ensure that any new developments will be included in bringing the trail system to life. Such members would be afforded the ability to work with the group on getting approval for and construction of multi-use non-motorized trails in the Rancho Lilac Preserve. Committee members would make sure that a trail system is in place once the Preserve is active and open to the public. Another challenge being faced by the organization is the access to Daley Ranch from Valley Center. Although it is a popular destination for Valley Center trail riders and hikers, access directly from town is prohibited because the road on Mirar De Valle past Red Iron Bark Drive is private. The County of San Diego must first accept it into the public road system in order to obtain access to the trail system at Daley.

The Trail Research and Planning Committee works on the trails planning and will work with partner groups such as the Valley Center Vaqueros, Friends of Hellhole Canyon Preserve, San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA), and the Valley Center Historical Society and History Museum. This committee is led by Minette Ozaki, Board Bicycle representative, and past president of the SDMBA. It has responsibility for investigating, planning, and implementing what trails go where within Valley Center Community Planning Area. It needs six to 10 active members to deal with CTMP Trail System Expansion, create Neighborhood Trails not currently part of the CTMP, Lilac Ranch, and possible special use trails, including feasibility and connectivity studies.

The Program Development Committee is led by Trail Master Anita Noone. It will brainstorm potential VCTA-sponsored programs to educate and provide exercise opportunities for VCTA members and the community. It needs four to six active members to establish and publicize and put on GPS device training, trail easement dedication seminar programs, and develop other programs.

The Community Relations/Support Committee is led by Fred Wollman, VCTA Membership Chair. Its task is to create and implement a comprehensive community relations/communications/ marketing plan to increase the visibility and improve the perception of VCTA. The plan will provide for outreach, collaboration, and networking and creating an environment that builds community support through membership, contributions and volunteers. This group will keep the public informed as to the latest developments and advancements with trail planning and implementation. It will need writers, editors, and photographers who can generate flyers and articles to share with the community and news media.

The Financial Development Committee will be led by Treasurer Lori Jacobs. Its main goal is to establish a comprehensive Financial Development Plan focused on securing funds for operations, programs, and capital expenditures. It will develop a comprehensive list of donors and potential donors and increase membership to 200. Local fund-raising wizard Bob Lerner has volunteered to help with initial preparation of the financial plan. Another area involved with this committee is grant writing. Funding will be required to plan and implement the trail system at Rancho Lilac, which will require more people with grant writing experience to work with the VCTA Vice Chairperson/Grants, Larry Gartner.

While there is much to contribute to our community trail system through the VC Trails Organization, it does come with its share of rewards. One such advantage is the Oct. 18 Open House/Annual Meeting, which will be held at the Community Room at the Valley Center Library. This year will feature music from local group Heidi and the Hurricanes.

There are also new trails to be explored, such as the half to three quarter mile "Sunshine Trail" at the 50-acre solar farm between Vesper and Valley Center Road. The VCTA and the VC Planning Group are currently working with SDG & E on a potential trail adjacent to the proposed SDG & E Solar farm next to its substation on Valley Center Road. The two solar farm trails could eventually be joined by planned pathways along VC and Vesper Roads and the VC Parks & Recreation District's new park site if the district acquires property in escrow on Vesper Road.

Those interested in gaining membership to the Valley Center Trails Association and being a part of the exciting new developments can contact Fred Wollman at (760) 518-8545 or email him at fred@fwollman.com, or join online at vctrails.org.

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