by James Powell and Erin Feehily, Alta Planning + Design

We are currently working on an agricultural trail project for the Ventura County Transportation Commission. The project is a study on how to successfully get trails built through and adjacent to agricultural areas. We’ve been working with Kristin Maravilla and Randy Anderson in Alta’s Oakland office, as well as the Rails to Trails Conservancy conducting research and interviews with trail operators, farmers, and landowners. One of the biggest challenges has been getting the right people on the phone and waiting for return calls, but we’ve regardless pulled together some great information about design and management strategies from trails around the country to minimize conflict before and after trails get built. The good news is that many of the concerns during the planning phases of these trails, such as theft, trespassing, and vandalism, have very rarely come to pass and many early opponents of the trails end up becoming advocates of the trails once they’ve been in place for a couple of years. The project will be wrapping up in December or January with a presentation to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

Photo: The Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail in San Mateo County, CA, travels alongside artichoke and brussels sprouts fields and grazing land.