A historical benefit for parks and lands
This year, we are excited to say that the proceeds of this run will go to Bike Santa Cruz County. BSCC (formerly People Power) began working to promote safety, accessibility, and popularity of bicycling as a way of life and transportation in the 1990s. Among other things, this non-profit advocates for development of facilities that encourage human-powered transportation.
In previous years, Run By The Sea has benefitted:
Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, dedicated to protecting and caring for the lands we love (like Wilder Ranch!). The Trust is a voice for both working lands, like farms and timberland, and natural lands with high conservation value, protecting water supplies, wildlife habitats, and open space. To date, the Land Trust has protected 14,000 acres by working with willing landowners and conservation partners; the Trust's 2011 Conservation Blueprint for Santa Cruz County calls for the protection of 50,000 priority acres in our county and will guide the Land Trust’s work through 2035.
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.
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.
History of the land
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 1960s 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 agricultural---and the historical character of this area is inextricably interwoven with the area's farms. The farms are also important economically; of course, they provide humanity's fuel: food.
But the DPR's focus is public access and recreation. So, while maintaining the agriculture, it also encourages compatible uses of coastal trails along the ocean and parallel to the railroad corridor for public recreation and transportation. The goal ofRun 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 beach crossing
Participants often ask 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 State Parks maps show that you can use the rail connector, but these maps are actually indicating trails that are not legally accessible!
Farm trails that aren't adjacent to the tracks are part of Wilder Ranch and are open to recreational use.