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Last week our Board and staff met to take a good look at the growing cost of stewardship, which will increase dramatically as we open up trails at San Vicente Redwoods and our Watsonville Slough Farm.

We began the meeting by asking everyone to briefly answer the question: when did you fall in love with nature? We had the idea that the answer to that question would tell us something about the importance of providing access to nature. We were right.

Most of us fell in love with nature on trips to parks, especially camping trips. “It was magical,” one board member said, recalling a camping trip when she was four years old. “It was more magical than Disneyland.” Another described the magic of a school trip from the Bay Area to Santa Cruz. “The trees, the mist, the ocean, it was another world.”

For others the magic was found closer to home. One board member recalls laying in the tall prairie grass and looking up in awe at the trees.

I remember exploring the swamps around our house in Virginia and crossing fields to the woods while hunting. I am still drawn to wetlands and fields bordering woods (which is a pretty good description of our Watsonville Slough Farm).

Some knew they were in love with nature when it disappeared. One grew up in Burbank and another in San Jose – before these places were paved over. “I knew we’d lost something important.”

We began the meeting with these memories because we were going to be talking about how expensive it is to build defacto parks and trails and then take care of them. We do it for the love of nature, and the desire to protect nature begins on the land.

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Stephen Slade is the Executive Director at Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. He has more than 40 years non-profit experience in fundraising, communications, and management – and a deep passion for the lands that make Santa Cruz special.

Find out more about Stephen Slade…

This Post Has One Comment
  1. I fell in love with nature as a child. Family outings to the beach, drives in rural parts of southern California, trips to the local mountains, the deserts, and the Sierras, it was all amazing. And it still is, which is why both protecting it and helping people get out into it are both important.

    I’d like to offer a suggestion about the costs of paying for trails and maintenance and user or access fees. Make it accessible. Offer options. One day passes, monthly passes, etc. I’ve often thought a lot more folks would buy a State Parks pass if they could do it incrementally. Don’t price out young people and families.

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