History of the Area
In the 1860s, two Swiss families acquired two former Spanish land grants,
which stretched from Scott Creek in the north to Laguna Creek in the south. They formed the Coast Dairies & Land Company.
By the 1920s, these families had moved back to Switzerland, but they and their heirs continued to lease land to local farmers and dairy operators.
Much of this stretch of coast remained more or less as it had been in the 19th century. Plans to develop this area in the 1960's
were ultimately quashed by Proposition 20 (1972) and the Coastal Act (1976). In 1998, the Trust for Public Lands acquired the land,
and in 2009 completed the transfer of the land to the State of California, to be managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
In addition, in October of 2012, the rail corridor which runs directly through this area, was acquired by the
Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission.
Together, this means that the vast majority of land in this area is now publicly owned.
Along the coast, this land has remained primarily in agriculture — and this is appropriate since the historical character
of this area is inextricably interwoven with the area's farms. The farms are also important economically, and of course because they provide
humanity's most valuable resource — food.
But the DPR's focus is public access and recreation. So, while maintaining the agriculture, it should also encourage
compatible uses of coastal trails along the ocean and parallel to the railroad corridor for public recreation and transportation.
The goal of Run by the Sea is to highlight the incredible resource that now lies in the public trust, and to encourage
this and other sustainable recreational uses that allow the broader community to experience the area in harmony with the farms.
The Wacky Backstory
The Run By the Sea promotes the development of the coastal rail trail from Davenport to Santa Cruz - so why isn't the run between Davenport and Santa Cruz? Because the government agency that owns it (SCCRTC)
does not yet permit open public use of the rail corridor. They are working hard with groups like Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to fund a permanent trail and have produced a Master Plan for the Rail Trail.
In the 3 mile section of the rail trail north of Wilder Ranch, there is a well-maintained farm road parallel to the tracks (as far as Scaroni Rd.) We believe public safety would be enhanced by opening this trail (e.g. giving bicyclists an alternative to Highway 1), and that the safety and recreational benefit to our community outweighs the manageable liability issues.
Whether or not this segment is opened to access before a formal trail is built, we are very grateful for the efforts of the SCCRTC to obtain funding to make the more formal trail a reality!
Here are some images of the farm road/rail trail path from Wilder Ranch to Scaroni Rd. that is currently off-limits.
Here are a few images of rail trails in other parts of the country (some have active train service)
that inspire us to want to see our rail trail in this area opened.
Some runners have asked why we have a beach crossing in the Run by the Sea. That's because it's currently the only legal way to get from Wilder Ranch to the northern bluff trails.
The current Wilder Ranch maps show that you can use the rail connector, but these maps are actually indicating trails that are not legally accessible!
The farm trails that aren't adjacent to the tracks are open to recreational use (since those belong to CA State Parks).
Click here to view our full proposal for the Ohlone Rail Trail.
What Does This Run Support?
This event supports groups that work to promote the coastal rail trail from Davenport to Santa Cruz. These include:
- Santa Cruz Friends of the Rail & Trail (FORT) is the community voice for building the 32-mile Coastal Rail Trail. FORT has advocated for over a decade for public acquisition of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line, and now that the purchase is complete, FORT is working to support the timely construction of the trail. One of FORT's key roles is to enhance the public interest and widespread project support to help our elected officials know that the rail trail is a valuable priority to our community.
- People Power began working to promote the concept of a Santa Cruz Rail Trail in the early '90s. Among other things, the group advocates for development of facilities that encourage human-powered transportation.
- Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is dedicated to the preservation of our area's natural environment and cultural history. Much of the proposed rail trail north of Santa Cruz passes directly through State Parks land.
- Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC)
is the local government agency that acquired the rail property and is tasked with developing rail trail and rail uses.