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New trail on Cattle Point Road the result of months of volunteer work
In a recent agriculture-themed lecture, Saltspring Island author/farmer Michael Ableman addressed the importance of pleasure as motivator. He noted that guilt is too often used to induce people to care for their environment.
Instead, Ableman says, we should invoke pleasure: If reminded that a connection with the planet is satisfying, the public is presented with a greater incentive to act in a proactive way.
On Oct. 24, volunteers from the San Juan Island Trails Committee embodied this exhortation on the Frazer property. Greeted with Saturday’s clear skies and sunshine, the workers were able to enjoy the land and see the rewards of months of work.
The trail is a section of the route that will eventually connect Friday Harbor to American Camp and South Beach. The entirety of the project combines resources from the Land Bank, the Trails Committee and Public Works, crossing Land Bank-owned property and trail easements. When property may not be used, the path loops out into Public Works road easements.
Although planned by officials, much of the manual work was done by San Juan volunteers. Doug McCutchen, Land Bank preserve steward, attributes the advanced state of the trail to volunteer energies.
"It's my favorite thing about this project — so many people seeing what's going on and thinking, 'That is something I want to be a part of'."
Truly a project for the people, by the people, residents have had their say in the trail's development — from the original nominating of the Cattle Point route (islanders voted for it in a Trails Committee survey) to helping lay 3,321 feet of fence.
The air fills with the thump of tools on earth as McCutchen describes the difficulties presented by the Frazer portion of the trail. He cites the "narrow path between agricultural fencing and the road" as unusual trail terrain. Additionally, effort has gone into raising portions of path to avoid overly wet ground. "It's a very different kind of trail," he says.
Difficulties, however, have not dampened the progress of the path. The Frazer portion of the trail is essentially completed and due for opening in spring, although the entirety of the Cattle Point route will not be ready.
"We still have more trail easements to negotiate," says Lincoln Bormann, Land Bank director.
Though there is no definite finish date for the larger path, the enthusiasm of Saturday's volunteers indicates there will be no shortage of manpower.