Aptos Creek Bridge Removal?

09 November 2003

On Sunday, November 9, eight brave volunteers reported for duty at the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park to take on a very physical and logistical project - the removal of the two seasonal stream crossings from Aptos Creek to store them during the winter. Historically this project has fostered a not-so-apparent competition between the two groups to see who could finish first. The “teams” were squaring off prior to the workday.

Jeff Thomson and Jim Belcher go to work on a potential "water hazard".
Jeff Thomson and Jim Belcher go to work
on a potential “water hazard”.

Linda Moore (foreground) and Carol Cuminale attack the encroaching brush on Aptos Rancho Trail.
Linda Moore (foreground) and Carol Cuminale
attack the encroaching brush
on Aptos Rancho Trail.

Terri Schneider digs in to a section of West Ridge trail to improve the drainage.
Terri Schneider digs in to a section
of West Ridge trail to improve the drainage.

Chris Foster is busily moving right along to improve drainage on West Ridge.
Chris Foster is busily moving right along
to improve drainage on West Ridge.

But, alas, Mother Nature did not cooperate. The significant rains of the preceding couple of days (and nights) forced Fish and Game to void the permit that had been issued to allow us to be active in the stream at a time when, potentially, fish would begin their migration upstream. This action was taken at the last minute and the volunteers did not receive the gloomy news until all were assembled to begin work.

Well, heck, after having consumed enough donuts and hot coffee to challenge a charging bull, the volunteers certainly didn’t want to go home; they came to work!! And the Forest of Nisene Marks always has SOMETHING that needs doing. So the two groups set off to different areas of the Park. Carol Cuminale had a special request to trim back the encroaching brush on the trail that parallels the Fire Road between the kiosk parking lot and George’s Picnic Area.

Chris Foster had noticed on his “patrol” (i.e. trail run) of West Ridge the day before that water from the previous day’s rain was pooling on the trial and not draining as we had intended from our work on that trail in the past. He requested that we go there and work on clearing out the drains and addressing the potential erosion. With no objection from our volunteers, we headed off.

As seen in the first picture, Jeff Thomson (on the left) and Jim Belcher found a puddle that needed attention. Jim, who is taller than most of the volunteers, did the trimming of bushes that hung down over the trail. As seen in the second picture, Linda Moore (foreground) and Carol Cuminale did a great job of trimming back the vegetation from the sides of the trail. The other group on West Ridge Trail, were dealing with correcting the trail slope to facilitate rain runoff without creating erosion. This is a new concept and one that contradicts the previous policy of channeling water to direct it off the trail. This new approach attempts to avoid channeling water; instead the water is allowed to continue down the hill as if the trail were not even there. As seen in the third and fourth pictures, Terri Schneider and Chris Foster (respectively), are removing the outside trail berm to facilitate this process.

West Ridge Trail has many areas that slant and water erosion has always been a problem so having this opportunity to deal with this aspect of trail maintenance was really fortunate. We were able, also, to check on the condition of the new trail reroute that was the focus of one of our workdays during the summer. All of us were pleased to see that it has held up. During the day it rained intermittently which only added to our sense of urgency to “winterize” some of these areas.

And what about the seasonal stream crossing removal? Well, Barbi Barry of State Parks indicated that her crew would remove them since the window of opportunity for this to happen would not allow us to pull together a group of volunteers. It looks like our next “competition” will have to wait for spring when the seasonal stream crossings are again placed in Aptos Creek. Stay tuned!!

Those hearty souls who participated in this workday were Chris Foster, Carol Cuminale, Jeff Hicks, Linda Moore, Jim Belcher, Greg Weaver, Margrite Weaver, Terri Schneider, Jeff Thomson, Jeff Hicks and, yours truly, Margaret Hicks (who doubles as the photographer). Those representing State Parks were Barbi Barry, Maintenance Supervisor for the South Sector and Michael Graff.