Montecito Trails Foundation – Playa de Santa Barbara Award for Environmental Stewardship
A premier trails organization since 1964, The Montecito Trails Foundation, this year’s Playa de Santa Barbara Award for Environmental Stewardship honoree, has inspired Montecito residents to join together to preserve neighborhood recreational trails, which are increasingly encroached on by area development. Historic and public access trails have been saved by this exemplary trails advocacy organization. Since its founding, MTF has been raising private funds and obtaining public grants to acquire, build, map, sign, and maintain an extensive network of about 200 miles of neighborhood trails in Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria.
This community organization, which works with landowners to obtain trail easements and with governmental agencies to develop and maintain safe trails, has approximately 500 active members.
Today MTF is facing its most difficult challenge in repairing and rebuilding almost the entire trail system after the Thomas Fire & Debris Flow. This is an expensive and extensive project. In response to the extent of the devastation, MTF has been very active in organizing the repairs and in raising the funds to finance the repair of the trails so recently destroyed, so that the public can get back on the trails. So far, MTF has cleared and repaired the Romero Canyon catwalk/road, begun work on the Romero trail, and opened the Girard / McMenemy / Old Pueblo trail loop trail. MTF has also worked tirelessly with the Bucket Brigade in clearing and re-establishing the Ennisbrook San Ysidro Preserve trail system.
During the past decades, the Santa Barbara area has grown and trail use has dramatically increased. When MTF was founded, equestrians were then perhaps the largest of the front country trails user groups. Over the years demographics have changed and people have become focused on personal fitness and consequently there are more walkers, hikers, and runners, as well as mountain bikers. MTF remains dedicated to keeping trails open and safe for all user groups.
Trail easements given to MTF are in turn dedicated to the County, which assumes liability for the trails. Budgetary constraints limit the County’s ability to maintain trails, therefore MTF raises funds to voluntarily maintain the trails and also hire private work crews to keep the trails safe and open to the public. The trails in the area exist in various governmental jurisdictions: U.S. Forest Service, SB County, and SB City. Santa Barbara’s trails system remains one of the best in the country. MTF is a private non-profit 501(c)(3).
Pictured above in the first photo are a mix of friends and board members of The Montecito Trails Foundation: Tony Morris, Kevin Snow, Monty Amyx (on Indy), Cori Haymen, Dick Drosendahl, Ashlee Mayfield, Barbara Cleveland, Cynthia Tippett (on Harry) and Shelia Snow.