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400+ people (and 21 dogs) had adventures on our Star Creek Ranch earlier this month. After their adventures many of them hung out at our “End of the Trail Pub” seen in the picture above. They were a bunch of happy hikers – and it is pure pleasure talking to happy members and their guests, which is why this event is a staff favorite.

The most common question I heard was about our plans for the 1,200 acre ranch that lies in the heart of the Pajaro Hills. In the near-term, we will continue to open it once or twice a year to our members and their guests. Access is across another private ranch and limited to a single-lane dirt road – which is why it is limited, for now.

Next year, to celebrate the Land Trust’s 40th anniversary, we’re talking about allowing a few days of camping. Every time I mentioned it to our happy hikers last week, faces lit up, which tells me they’d be happy campers too. What other opportunities do you have to camp close to home and not be jammed into a park campground, but to be out in wild lands?

We’ll see if we can pull that off. It sure would be fun – and a fitting reward for the people who make all our work possible.

Another idea we have is to build a basic campground and make it available to non-profits for group camping – a way of opening up the property to more access while still controlling access down that long dirt road across someone else’s land.

Eventually, we see the property as the core of a wild regional park, but that would require better access, which means an agreement with a neighbor. We’re working on that, but there is no timeline.

In the meantime, we’ll continue opening it up to our members and their friends and looking forward, every year, to talking with all the happy hikers.

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…

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  1. I LOVE the idea of camping at Star Creek! I have been secretly wishing for a camping opportunity. Some planned activities and a group camp fire would be awesome!

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