This article appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Landmarks, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County’s newsletter.
Seizing Opportunities – We’re on a mission
The mission of the Land Trust is to protect, care for, and connect people to the extraordinary lands that make this area special.
We are so close to doing some great things that will make our beloved county even more extraordinary. We have within our grasp the opportunity to build 45 miles of trails, a wildlife tunnel, and most of the Coastal Rail Trail. That’s right, we could have most of the Rail Trail built within a few years if voters approve Measure D, which will provide millions of dollars to build the rail trail. Those funds, combined with the $19 million already committed to the project, would mean we would have in hand two thirds of the estimated $127 million cost of building this amazing transformative project.
If you had said, two or three years ago, that we would be so close to funding projects of this scale and impact, not many people would have believed it. Many probably, this being Santa Cruz County, would have wondered what you were smoking. But here we are, on the verge of building more hiking and biking trails than have been built in a generation. On the verge of building a wildlife tunnel under our county’s major highway. On the verge of building a 32-mile road without cars that will transform the way people get around our county.
As I go through the daily grind of work behind these grand ventures, I often find myself saying, “It’s amazing anything gets done” – because there seems to be no shortage of obstacles to getting things done. But when I step back and see what’s before us, I am amazed at the opportunities now within our grasp. Let’s grab them with both hands!
Our Great Campaign not only includes funds for these projects, but also a small Opportunity Fund – because we know the opportunities before us today are not the only chances we will have to make our county a better place. Because we had a small Opportunity Fund three years ago, we were able to launch the Wildlife Tunnel project by buying a small property that suddenly became available – and that is the best possible place on Highway 17 for a tunnel.
This summer we were approached with four opportunities that we cannot yet tell you about except to say they involve protecting forest land, farmland, a potential park, and a beach! Without an Opportunity Fund, we would have had to say, thanks for asking, but we can’t…. Having an Opportunity Fund means we can say, we’ll look into it, we’ll take the first steps, we’ll grab the opportunity. It’s our mission and our passion: to seize every opportunity we can to make this special place even better for those who live and come to play here – and for those who will come after us.