by Jen Stanfield
Glen Oaks Ranch is a diverse property with historic infrastructure and natural resources. About six years ago, Sonoma Land Trust enlisted the help of volunteers to maintain Glen Oaks’ 2.8 miles of hiking trails and perform other tasks as needed. It was lovely to, once again, host this group for our annual kickoff meeting at the ranch last Saturday. While I always enjoy working with the Trail Crew volunteers, this year was particularly fun — the group was comprised entirely of returning members! This meant that I could present a simplified program — and that everyone was already familiar with each other. Many of them hadn’t been in touch since the conclusion of the 2016 season. We gathered around coffee and pastries, exchanging news and laughter in the damp morning air. After covering the requisite safety information and logistics, the group split into smaller groups to tackle mowing, pruning and rock-lining of the hiking trails.
Soon, the sweet spring sound of weed whackers buzzed through the hillsides. As with most people, I enjoy my backcountry time most when it is free of the sounds of human development (traffic, stereos, etc.) My reality has shifted over years of natural resource management to welcome the sound of certain tools when I know they’ll result in well-maintained, sustainable trail alignments, ultimately giving us peaceful, uninhibited hikes. And let me tell you, hearing those five weed whackers and one brush mower in the distance, punctuated by the snap snap of loppers nearby … well, it was wonderful.
Three hours after arriving at Glen Oaks, the crew had tackled the mowing of the entire George Ellman Trail and a significant portion of the Phyllis Ellman Trail , and had lined sections of the latter with rocks — a whole lot of work in a very short time! At the end of the workday, we gathered again for shop talk. A few crew members lingered to enjoy their lunch under the oaks.
The 2017 Glen Oaks Trail Crew kickoff will stand out as a particularly wonderful volunteer gathering for its combination of fun, camaraderie and accomplishment. Many thanks to this group of hardworking and dedicated volunteers.
Jen Stanfield is an assistant stewardship project manager at Sonoma Land Trust.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at SLT, click here.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.