by Mike Swezy
If you are a frequent hiker in the vicinity of Bon Tempe Reservoir you probably noticed a mass of orange exclusion fencing and a lot of warning signs. What you are seeing is the launch of “Project Restore,” our new concerted effort to remove undesirable and unofficial trails on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed and to restore them to natural habitat. Behind the fencing you will see a first class restoration of landform, erosion control, and revegetation to reclaim natural conditions. Watershed rangers will make a special effort to monitor closed trails and, if necessary, will issue citations to users in closed areas.
We heartily welcome visitors to enjoy the wonders of Mt. Tamalpais. There are 160 miles of official roads and trails on watershed lands available for your use. They are maintained so that they have minimal impact on the health of the watershed while providing a safe outdoor experience for visitors. In stark contrast to these official trails, the district’s 2005 Road and Trail Management Plan identified more than 53 miles of undesirable trails on Mt. Tamalpais. Since then watershed staff have mapped almost 9 additional miles of illegal trails.
These unofficial trails fragment native habitat and disrupt wildlife populations. Undesirable trails that don’t meet professional trail standards can increase sediment entering our reservoirs. They also provide pathways for invasive weeds to penetrate native wild lands and in large number can damage the natural beauty of the watershed. For hikers, the trails are a safety hazard, increasing the risk of getting lost because the routes are not mapped.
We need your help to meet our stewardship goals for the watershed. If you notice an illegal trail under construction please report it to our ranger staff. Consider volunteering with our monthly trail crew. Please stay on the authorized trail system—stop by watershed headquarters at Sky Oaks for a free map. Leave no trace. Let’s all work together to keep Mt. Tam special.