MMWD to Restore Natural Habitat and Remove Environmentally Damaging Trails
Old Railroad Grade is one of the most popular routes on Mt. Tamalpais and it is beginning to show some wear. To improve environmental conditions adjacent to the Grade, Marin Municipal Water District is continuing Project Restore late this spring on the south side of Mt. Tamalpais, between East Ridgecrest Boulevard and Panoramic Highway. Unofficial trails in this area have been proliferating over the years, confusing hikers, providing corridors for weed migration and adding sediment to the creeks, impacting water quality and fisheries habitat or traversing the watershed in a wholly non-sustainable manner.
Project Restore, now in its sixth year, was launched in 2009 to restore natural habitats and improve visitor safety. It achieves these goals by removing unofficial trails that have a number of adverse impacts on the watershed, such as disturbing sensitive plant and animal species, fragmenting habitats, increasing erosion and increasing the likelihood of visitors getting lost. Project Restore efforts include trail re-routes to reduce their impact on the watershed and new or improved trail marker signs to help people stay on designated trails and reduce the likelihood of their getting lost. In past years, trails have been removed, habitat restored and trail signage and connectivity improved in the Bon Tempe Lake area, the Temelpa Trail area on East Peak, in the Kent Trail – High Marsh area and on West Peak.
The main objectives of this year’s work will be to:
- Decommission 1.7 miles of non-system trails through habitat restoration areas;
- Better define trailhead wayfinding for official trail routes on the south side of Mt. Tamalpais;
- Repair roadside habitat along Railroad Grade and Gravity Car Road; and
- Minimize erosion.
Undesirable roads and trails will be decommissioned and their footprints restored to natural habitat. This year, the Project Restore work conducted by MMWD staff will be supported by One Tam - a five agency partnership to care for the greater Mt. Tamalpais ecosystem - and through the efforts of corpsmembers from Conservation Corps North Bay - a local youth development and conservation organization.
A special One Tam sponsored volunteer event will be held on Saturday May 6, (9am-2pm) to engage volunteers with stewardship of damaged roadside areas along Gravity Car Road and at Double Bow Knot. Participants are invited to join the many hikers, cyclists, and equestrians expected for this event.
The Mt. Tamalpais Road and Trail Management Plan identifies approximately 150 miles of official roads and trails for visitors to use. MMWD strives to maintain these roads and trails so they have minimal impact on surrounding habitats while providing a safe outdoor experience for visitors.
MMWD asks all watershed visitors for their cooperation by staying on official trails and respecting the habitat restoration work in these locations and beyond. These areas will be fenced off or signed to alert visitors to keep out. Watershed rangers will make a special effort to monitor these areas and, if necessary, will issue citations to users in closed areas.
Visitors may also help maintain the health of the watershed by refraining from creating new trails and reporting recent, unauthorized trail building. To help maintain the watershed’s official trail network or improve its natural habitat, consider participating in one of the MMWD’s volunteer Trail Crews on the first Saturday of each month. And for the months of May, July, August and September, the volunteer Trail Crews are scheduled to help out on Project Restore. Contact MMWD Volunteer Program Coordinator Suzanne Whelan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about volunteering.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mike Swezy