This is Part 1 in a series.
Ramona Community Trails and Pathways Master Plan: I have ventured a guess that most of you do not know what that is, or if you think you may know, you’ve probably never seen it. I am thankful for those of you who are aware and knowledgeable regarding the Plan.
Ever thought about or said something about the “trail to nowhere” in Ramona? I know some of you have because in all the years I’ve been involved with trail advocacy I’ve heard people mention, “The trail to nowhere” or ask why “we need to build this trail to nowhere.”
To many it hasn’t made a whole lot of sense to have bits and pieces of trails here and there throughout our community. Ramona does have completed trails (and pathways), but it’s those “trails to nowhere” that we will clarify through the introduction of the Ramona Community Trails and Pathways Master Plan over the next couple of columns. I will do my best to help you understand what it is and why it exists and to help you make sense of it.
Let’s first establish the difference between a trail and a pathway. A trail is away from any roadway, typically long sections through unpopulated terrain, and a pathway is alongside a roadway — much like a sidewalk — but rather than concrete it is compacted DG (decomposed granite) or other surface material that is compatible with use of horse, bicycle, and walking. It’s important to know the difference and the need for each.
Why do we have a Trails and Pathways Plan? The State of California requires all counties to have non-motorized trail systems. San Diego County does have a plan to create this required trails system.
As part of the county plan, communities like Ramona were given the opportunity to provide input, and Ramona participated enthusiastically, creating a Trails and Pathways Master Plan that is a cohesive, comprehensive document and includes a location map, describing the trails and pathways that will be built over time. Unincorporated communities in the county have a Trails and Pathways Plan and most cities do as well, and all can be found online quite easily.
Each community created its plan to connect within its community and avoid the “trails to nowhere.” The intent of trails and pathways plans are to provide a means of nonmotorized transportation as well as provide recreational opportunities for each community.
In creating individual plans, communities also looked at surrounding community plans, then worked together in an effort to also connect their trails and pathways to one another. Ramona worked with Poway, Lakeside, and others, for instance, so that some of our trails connect with some of their trails. These community plans thus created the County Master Trails and Pathways Plan that is required by the state.
Each plan is a work in progress. As communities grow and change and trails and pathways are realized, the plans are updated, and I was fortunate to be a part of the Ramona 2008 update, which gave me insight to how these things work.
It would be nice if we could just get our plan on the ground. I’d love to have more trails and pathways and not have to take my car everywhere I go, but it isn’t that easy.
Funding and easements are the biggest challenges any trails plan faces. Funding is made available through Recreational Trails programs, grants, and other funding opportunities from the state and even the feds to make these plans happen. Funding is a competitive process and sometimes difficult to get. Counties also appropriate funds for some trails and pathways at certain times.
Since most communities have been in existence longer than the trails plans have, not much thought about the need or desire for nonmotorized means of getting around on a grand scale was considered until more recent years.
No trails advocate ever wants to impede on personal property rights, either, so gaining easements can become challenging in connecting a trail or pathway in given areas. Our friends and neighbors are a huge part of the process by granting easements and even helping to reroute portions at times as they may be more familiar with a given area or terrain.
Ramona is a large area with two state highways as the main travel arteries and a downtown that is becoming more beautiful and busier than ever. Having the Trails and Pathways Plan continue to grow and help shape our community is vital so we will continue to explore how things can get better and how we can get out more.