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Last week three of our staff attended the national land trust conference in Denver. Back here I found myself thinking about the very different geographies of Colorado and our county and about surfers and cowboys – the icons of these two landscapes.

In Colorado there is a deep connection to a landscape, the way we have our connection to our landscape. Their landscape is one mountains and basins, ours is of mountains and ocean.  Our iconic person surfs, theirs is on a horse.

It doesn’t matter that few of us surf or few of Coloradoans ride, because many of us here and there cherish the landscape of the surfer and cowboy. We feel the connection to the landscape that these figures symbolize. In both places it is the connection of the iconic to the landscape that we all feel. And we can feel it only if it is accessible to us.

That is the conservationist case for recreational access, but there are many conservationists who view recreational access with concern. Some feel we should keep our fingers off what we haven’t already messed with. Perhaps because the conference was in Colorado, a big recreation state, I heard lots of stories about land trusts protecting land and building trails – and finding a balance between protecting nature and enjoying it.

This, of course, is what we aim to do at San Vicente Redwoods. From what I heard at the conference, our planning process for trails through San Vicente follows (and maybe sets a standard for) what I would call “best practices.” You seek input constantly, from lots of people. You listen. You adapt your plans. You address concerns. You find a balance.

You try to find a balance because, ultimately, you believe that support for protecting nature is built on a connection with nature – like the cowboys and surfers.

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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…

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