County steps up to trails plan



SLO County supervisors voted unanimously Dec. 12 to approve a new parks and recreation plan for the future, including a trails element calling for around 50 new trails.

The trails plan includes strict conditions, enacted after a four-hour public hearing at which around 70 people spoke for and against the plan. It was the second contentious hearing on the issue, following a long meeting Nov. 14.

The SLO County Farm Bureau asked for some proposed trails to be removed from the plan because of the risk of agricultural terrorism and food contamination. Some ranchers and rural land owners argued that the plan would impact their property rights, while other speakers called for improved recreational opportunities when land is converted from agricultural to other uses.

Fourteen trails were removed at the Farm Bureau's request, although around a dozen speakers asked for the future walkways to be reinstated in the plan.

"If we had a totally different mindset in our community and people understood the nature of agriculture, we wouldn't be here," said Joy Fitzhugh, Farm Bureau legislative analyst.

Andrew Christie of the local Sierra Club pointed out that the trails plan was developed over five years of consultations with the community, and requires willing sellers for any new trails, with no eminent domain.

"Increased urbanization requires increased recreation. It's a sound plan with a vision for the future," he told supervisors.

Final approval for the plan is set for the Board of Supervisors Dec. 19 meeting.


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