Recap: Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve Dig Day

December 8, 2021
Recently, we brought together 50 volunteers to reroute trails in the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve.

Our most recent Dig Day was a blast! Alongside the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, we brought together 50 volunteers to restore and maintain trails throughout the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve (BDER) (and have a ton of fun while doing it). Thank you to our Dig Day sponsors, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and Will Zilliacus of Bailey Properties, for making this event possible, plus hospitality sponsors Togo’s Watsonville, Verve, Sierra Nevada, and Cracked Cookies.

We hosted another Dig Day in BDER this past October, and at this weekend’s event, volunteers built on the trail work we began earlier in the fall. Most of the day’s tasks were focused on restoration work. Volunteers spent the day brushing and rerouting trails in the reserve to restore portions of the park that were impacted by the CZU Lightning Fire Complex in August of 2020. The Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve was devastated by the CZU fire, and volunteers worked through the charred landscape to make this park safer for all future visitors.

At the Dig Day, volunteers and Trail Crew Leaders spent the day brushing and renaturalizing sections of trail throughout the reserve. They ducked through heavy brush tunnels, cutting, and building a more sustainable trail for hikers to enjoy. Five groups of volunteers spent time removing dead stumps and debris from the trail tread to make a nicer walking surface for hikers.

Our Trails Director, Drew Perkins, led Trail Academy course 103, Basic Trail Construction: Hand, at the Dig Day. Drew led a small group of 15 attendees through their own small 450-ft reroute on the property, and taught them all about hand-building new sections of trail.

Rerouting a trail is a LOT of work. When approaching trail restoration at BDER, our team noticed a few key issues with the existing trail that led to us moving forward with the reroute:

  1. This small section of the existing trail was quite steep. When a trail gets too steep (usually due to lots of use, geologic shifts, or high erosion), it’s less-than-stellar to hike. The trails in BDER are for hikers to enjoy, and this section of the existing trail was simply too steep for a good time.

  2. A steep trail also leads to more erosion during rains, due to higher velocity of water flow. Past erosion had heavily damaged the tread of the trail, and over years of use, water had eroded the surface of the trail and caused dangerous ruts to form on the tread.

  3. The existing trail was completely overgrown with brush, and was too close to dead trees on the property. While the dead trees likely wouldn’t be a problem for a few years, we decided to reroute the trail and nip any potential hazards in the bud.

We had a great time working through the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve with volunteers, and hope to see you at the next Dig Day! Check out our Dig Day webpage here to learn more about the program and see upcoming events.

All photos generously provided by Austin Lee!


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