Here’s what Mount Shasta Trail Association president Joe Wirth said about the many MSTA accomplishments for 2011 during our recent annual meeting. He discusses the importance of partnerships and how that has been relevant to much of MSTA’s work.
Joe Wirth’s Comments
If I were to choose one word that characterizes the Mt. Shasta Trail Association’s accomplishments in 2011 it would be PARTNERSHIPS. What do I mean when I say that? Quite simply, when we review all of the projects we’ve been involved in, our PARTNERSHIPS were the consistent reason we were able to get things done. And in 2012 one of our primary goals will be to continue to build and strengthen our partnerships.
Here in our small community, which has seen some tough economic times over the past months, we see building strong relationships and partnerships as a cost effective way to significantly expand our resources and everyone wins.
Here are three concrete examples of our current PARTNERSHIPS: The Gateway Trail, The Hedge Creek Falls to Mossbrae Falls Trail, and the work being done to keep Castle Crags State Park open.
The Gateway Trail Project
Let’s start building the case for partnerships by looking at the Gateway Trail project. This has been a PARTNERSHIP between MSTA and the Forest Service plus the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and a number of local mountain bikers. CA State Parks and Recreation Department has also been involved and been a major source of funds to build the trail.
Each of these groups and organizations I mentioned played an important role and without all of these groups working together, especially the Forest Service, the project could not have moved forward at all.
As we think about the future of the Gateway Trail and how to make Mt. Shasta a destination for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians it is clear that creating a strong relationship with IMBA is very important and has great economic benefits for the Mt. Shasta area.
Hedge Creek to Mossbrae Falls Trail
Now let’s move on to our second example, Mossbrae Falls. Mossbrae Falls has long been a popular destination for hikers in this area and the only way to get there is to hike along the railroad tracks. Those of you who have taken this hike know that there are several places where meeting an oncoming train presents a serious problem. If you’ve been there you seen the steep bank down to the river on one side a high embankment on the other with not enough distance from the railroad tracks to feel comfortable. But many folks every year have decided that the risk is worth the reward.
However, this past November the feared accident did occur. A woman did not succeed in getting far enough out of the way and was hit in the head by a locomotive. Surprisingly, she was not killed and is expected to recover fully over time. That’s the good news. But clearly this shows that beyond the shadow of doubt the time has come to fix this problem
Before this event we began working in with the Dunsmuir City Manager, Union Pacific Railroad, and the St. Germain Foundation to create a trail to Mossbrae Falls that would branch off from the existing Hedge Creek Falls Trail and cross what is now St. Germain property. This is the first time that the railroad and St. Germain Foundation have been willing to consider this idea.
The plan is to obtain funding to purchase St. Germain land that would then be owned by the City of Dunsmuir and build a trail on that land. To that end we obtained a $10,000 grant from the Union Pacific Foundation and used the money to lay out the trail, survey the land (5.35) where the trail would located and get a appraisal of land value. We are currently negotiating with St. Germain Foundation on a purchase price for the land and hope to find a mutually acceptable answer in the next few months.
I have hiked the proposed trail route with Tom Hesseldenz and others and it is very scenic trail that winds down a steep hillside with numerous springs to the level of the river and to the falls. We will work hard to take advantage of the opportunity to resolve this safety hazard forever and create a hiking attraction for this area.
As you’ve listened to this, I hope you’ll agree that the Mossbrae Falls project clearly illustrates the power of partnership and it’s importance, not only for the community but, in this case, especially for trail users.
Castle Crags State Park
Finally, I would like to talk about one of our most publicized park and trail challenges, the proposed closing of Castle Crags State Park, because the progress we’ve made to date, once again exemplifies the power of partnership.
On May 23, 2011 CA Department of Parks and Recreation announced the planned closure of 70 State Parks including Castle Crags. Shortly after that announcement the Mt. Shasta Trail Association began working with Parks and Recreation, the Castle Crags Interpretative Association and recently with the Bioregional Ecology Center to find a way to keep the park open or at the very least to keep the trails accessible and in good condition.
Here’s where we are: We have negotiated an agreement with State Parks and Recreation that will allow us to work on trails within the park to provide trail maintainance and promote educational and interpretative activities around the trails. Since Castle Crags Interpretive Association’s contract with State Parks expired at the end of 2011 they have transferred most of their funds from activities in the park to MSTA and we have put those funds in a separate account earmarked for use only within Castle Crags. Specifically here’s how this will work:
- Our agreement with the state includes a listing of trail projects for use of these funds.
We will most certainly need a corps of volunteers to work on Castle Crags trails this year and into the future. There us a volunteer signup sheet in the back for those of you interested in working in Castle Crags
- Trails are only a portion of the Castle Crags operation and recently the Bioregional Ecology Center has become involved to find a way to keep the park completely in operation and they are actively working to mobilize community support for the park.
- We are working with them to develop short and long term plans for keeping the park in operation – while State Parks is continuing to work on new models for park operation that narrow the gap between park costs and revenues.
The planned closure date of July 1st is rapidly approaching. Keeping the park open is important economically and for the quality of life in the communities of south Siskiyou County. Now is the time to come together individually and as organizations to keep Castle Crags open. Now is the time for us to show the power of partnerships
Finally, I hope you’ll leave here tonight an advocate for teamwork and partnerships, if you’re not already, and that having heard the progress reports on the Gateway Trail, Mossbrae Falls Trail and Castle Crags project, you too are now convinced of the power of working together.
Please share your thoughts and ideas about these issues and any others you think relevant to the mission of the Mount Shasta Trail Association in the comments below.