Montecito Journal writer Lynn Kirst reached a new low this week with her story on the Montecito Trails Foundation (MTF). Just for reference, over the past forty or so years MTF has been one of the staunch guardians of our local trails and is responsible for raising a huge chunk of money to maintain trails in the Montecito area. I know this personally because for four of the past five years I was the one who performed the trail maintenance for MTF.
Trails maintained by MTF include the mountain trails (Cold Springs, San Ysidro, Romero), foothill trails (McMenemy, Girard, Old Pueblo, Buena Vista, among others) as well as a slew of valley routes in the Montecito and Summerland area.
In 2005, after massive floods caused major damage to many of the trails, MTF was there to re-open them and eliminate a huge number of major safety issues. Last year the McMenemy Trail was completely rebuilt, the Girard Trail was made safe for all trail users and major projects on both the Buena Vista Connector and main Buena Vista trails now make it possible for equestrian use of a much larger part of the trails network than had been possible before this.
In short, not only has MTF done a major service to the trail-loving community but thanks to their efforts the number of miles of trails that can be used safely by those on horseback has been increased dramatically.
But to Ms. Kirst this isn’t really the point. The bottom line is that she hates mountain bikes and will do anything to poison the well with her slams against those who would choose to work together to build a safe trail system we can all use. It is terribly unfortunate when an organization such as MTF is damaged for what is a responsible approach to working with multi-users of the trails.
A point that this writer also fails to mention is the fact that while MTF may be “custodians of the trails” in the First Supervisor’s District of the County, the organization doesn’t get to choose which groups are allowed to use the trails, what type of trail maintenance approaches will be taken or whether they are multi-use or not. The bottom line is that with few exceptions, MTF works under county and Forest Service guidelines to maintain trails that are currently designated for all non-motorized trail uses.
I can understand the safety concerns many trail users have; I’ve also had my share of negative encounters with mountain bikes and for many years have counseled parents against transporting their kids to the mountaintops for what are often joy rides down the trails. But this type of concern is far different than the poison pen approach Ms. Kirst favors. This ranting isn’t that of an author who is out to get an important community story; it is the determined effort of one person who is out to get mountain bikers and she’ll attack any group to do so, even if it causes lasting damage in the process.
It appears that this approach has already had one of its intended consequences. As a result of the column, MTF has decided to remove the mountain biker from their newly redesigned logo and return to using the old one. There may also be losses in membership as well if others who are so negatively disposed to mountain bikes choose not to renew their memberships. It is a sad day when one person can do so much damage.
There are a number of things you can do. First, if you aren’t a member of MTF, get on board. Membership is just $25 per year, you’ll be provided with a great topo-style map of all of the trails and you’ll know your hard-earned dollars are going to a worthy cause. You can find them online at http://montecitotrailsfoundation.org or you can call MTF President John Venable at (805) 568-0833 to request membership information.
Second, keep the above in mind whenever you see Ms. Kirst’s byline in the Montecito Journal. She won’t rest until mountain bikes are off the trail and she’ll take down anyone to get her way.
At a time when we need wise counsel, lots of patience and cooperative relationships among all of the groups if we are to bring harmony to the trails, the ability of all of us to work together is critical. This type of nasty attack-dog type of journalism can only harm these efforts.