The expansion of the Santa Maria River Levee trail will provide much needed access to outdoor recreation for residents in Northern Santa Barbara County.

For generations, there has been disproportionate investment in outdoor recreation between North and South County, with South County having much more access to recreation options.

For example, Santa Barbara has over 130 miles across 52 trails available for residents and visitors to run, bike, walk, and hike, while residents of the more populous Santa Maria have access to only 8 miles of trails across 2 trails. The proposed trail expansion would double the trail miles easily accessible to North County residents. There is still a long way to go when it comes to equitable access to outdoor recreation throughout the county, but this would be a great place to start.

Some concerns have been raised about the impact to the surrounding farmland, primarily due to pet waste that may be tracked onto the crops creating hazards and ruining harvests. However, much of Guadalupe and Santa Maria farmland is already in very close quarters to human activity. Farms all around North County abut roads, sidewalks, schools, houses, and commercial areas where people and their pets regularly romp around. Also, there does not appear to be any evidence that trails near farmland have negative effects on the farms or crops in other areas.

There is evidence that increasing access to open space has direct, clear, positive impacts on people’s health – both mental and physical. Adults experience improved happiness, wellbeing, stress levels, and lower cases of depression when they have greater access to nature. Also, children who spend more time outdoors show dramatic improvements in cognitive development, social skills, and academic performance (source: Creating new trails has also been shown to increase the property values of homes near the trailheads, have no effect on crime rates and have a huge positive impact on community wellbeing (source:

There is still time to make your voice heard, contact your Supervisor or the Clerk of the Board to let them know you support the trail extension.


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