Crews At Taylor Mountain and Helen Putnam Parks Putting In New Trails

In order to maintain Sonoma County regional parks, maintenance was usually done by government crews. Not so today with much of the work being done by volunteers. If you have hiked or biked in one of the Sonoma County regional parks, the trails you used were probably overseen by the Sonoma County Trails Council of volunteers, directed by Ken Wells.

The Trails Council celebrates 50 years this year and Wells has been working with the Trails Council group for 25 of those years. His work consists of identifying projects that need to be done and then supervising the work crews. A big part of his work is getting people interested in volunteering. Wells thinks the support for regional parks has increased as more and more people volunteer which makes them invested in the future of the parks.

Council crews are regularly working at Taylor Mountain and Helen Putnam Parks putting in new trails and repairing existing ones. So far over 150 miles of trails have been completed in the county parks while more miles of trails are also planned for existing parks as well as plans for future sites.

Since 2013, the Trails Group has logged about 11,000 volunteer work hours, which amounts to about $270,000 of donated labor. With the number of park users increasing every year, finding willing workers is easier.

Wells has close to 900 volunteers on an active email list, so when he has work that needs to be done, he lets everyone know, and more often than not, enough people respond. In addition, when hikers are on the trails, they talk with the crews and ask how they can sign up to volunteer.

The Trails Council also works with the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps. This is a group of teenagers trained in methods to protect the environment and during the summer work on outdoor projects including repairing trails.

Wells says that only citizens who are committed to maintaining and protecting the natural world will help maintain the public land. Attracting the youth is the best way to start people on a lifelong road of conservation.

He is optimistic the parks will prosper in the coming decades but he says we need to take the long view and use persistence, patience, and passion to build and maintain trails. That has become his personal mantra.

Sonoma County is fortunate to have people like Ken Wells who are passionate about preserving the natural beauty of California and ensuring that future generations will also be able to enjoy nature’s bounty.


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