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Volunteers make efforts to spruce up trails

CARLSBAD — More than a dozen volunteers hiked in from the trailhead at El Fuerte Street to repair trails and refurbish signage along Ridgeline Trail on March 10. After a safety talk, the group split into smaller teams to work on specific projects.The day’s trail work included knocking down berms put in by SDG&E work crews and putting in gullies so that water would run off trails making them more hiker-friendly.

Pat Rowe and his daughters Elise, 5, Jessica, 7, and Lauren, 9, all of La Costa, hike in to help repair trails. Photo by Promise Yee

The Carlsbad Parks and Recreations Department organizes the Carlsbad Trail Volunteer Program. Volunteers meet up monthly to take care of projects along the 38 miles of trails in city parks, open spaces and preserves.

“We provide tools, gloves, drinking water and snacks,” Liz Ketabian, Carlsbad park planner and trails manager, said. “We ask people to dress appropriately and email a trail event-specific flyer with driving directions, the work we’re doing and what the city provides.”

To keep track of what needs to be done on city-maintained trails, volunteer trail captains are assigned to each trail. Trail captains hike the trail monthly and report back at annual planning meetings with maintenance recommendations. A master maintenance schedule is made and volunteers are notified.
Volunteers can participate on a regular or project-by-project basis.

“Volunteers are mainly from North County,” Ketabian said. “Mainly Carlsbad residents, but also from Encinitas, Oceanside. Anybody can come help.”

Natalie MacPherson (left) of Oceanside, and Jeanne Downhour, of Carlsbad, help refurbish trail signs. Photo by Promise Yee

Most volunteers range in age from 16 to 70 and have a love for the outdoors.

“They love to hike these trails and ask, ‘How can I help?’” Ketabian said.

On March 10, high school student Natalie MacPherson of Oceanside helped out as part of her school community service hours. Natalie said she has a keen interest in science and plans to study biology in college.

Pat Rowe of La Costa also volunteered with his three daughters Lauren, 9; Jessica, 7; and Elise, 5.

“We use this trail a lot,” Rowe said. “I thought it was a good opportunity to show them it takes people to volunteer their time so that everyone can enjoy them.”

Trail projects range from replanting native species to clearing invasive plants and building shade structures. While some of the rigorous tasks are limited to adults, there is usually a job for anyone who wants to volunteer, Ketabian said.

“We typically spruce up signage, sand and repaint it,” Ketabian said. “We refurbish kiosks, trim along the trail to keep it clear, pick up litter, construct timber stairs.”

Volunteers have helped maintain Carlsbad trails for 12 years.

“Volunteers are an integral part of having a successful tail system,” Ketabian said. “We’re really lucky to have them.”