Modoc Road Bike Path Tree Removal Plans Spark Neighborhood Opposition | Local News

A grove of trees along Modoc Road survived the 1991 Painted Cave Firebut they may not escape the latest threat: the Santa Barbara County government.

Plans are underway to remove between 40 and 61 trees along Modoc Road between Via Senda and Encore Drive, a neighborhood across from the Keep Modoc next to Hope Ranch. The trees include a combination of eucalyptus and canarian palms.

The county currently has two proposals for a multi-use trail connecting the Obern Trail cycle path at the western end of the district.

Residents along Modoc Road are outraged. They say they weren’t warned and think the path could be created without removing the trees. They started a petition that collected approximately 1,600 signatures so far.

“There are other options,” said Jayne Sigman, who often brings her children, Lincoln and Lucille, to the area. “It will change the whole dynamic of the neighborhood.

“We come here every day and enjoy nature and wildlife. Future generations should be able to enjoy these trees.

The $8 million project would create a “low-stress pathway” for people of all ages and abilities. It also aims to provide a safer alternative to the unprotected Modoc Road cycle path. Approximately $5.4 million of the total cost is funded by a Caltans Active Transportation Program to agree.

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White spray paint dots mark trees proposed to be felled along Modoc Road as part of an $8 million multi-use trail project in Santa Barbara County. (Photo by Joshua Molina/Noozhawk)

The project will fill a missing gap in the regional multi-use trail network by connecting the City of Santa Barbara recently completed Las Positas and Modoc Road Multiuse Path leading to the Obern Trail.

According to county officials, it will provide local connections to schools, beaches, neighborhoods and UC Santa Barbarafilling a gap in the Coastal Access Road.

In May, the county released a draft report indicating that all impacts could be mitigated. The project is to go before the county Board of Supervisors in September.

Two options are offered.

Route A would place the road directly adjacent to Modoc Road and increase the width of the roadway. Although the option would be entirely within the county right-of-way and require no easements, it would require the removal of trees along the road.

The option avoids the Modoc Reserve but requires the most extensive tree removal, including most of the Canary Islands palms along Modoc Road. County documents say 35 of the palms would be cut down along with nine eucalyptus trees, four other palms and 12 trees identified as “other.”

Shelly Cobb
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Neighbor Shelly Cobb supports a bike path along Modoc Road, but is smaller and does not remove trees. “From a wildlife perspective, this reserve means a lot to us because we see monarch butterflies coming out of the eucalyptus trees,” she says. “There are so many birds and wildlife that use these trees as their homes.” (Photo by Joshua Molina/Noozhawk)

Below the B alignment, the path would skirt parts of Modoc Road, but also meander along the back of the Canary Islands palm trees at the east end of the street. This option preserves the majority of the palms and reduces the total number of trees felled to around 40.

The county prefers the B alignment due to improved user experience and reduced tree impacts. According to the plan, 17 eucalyptus trees would be felled, along with four oaks, three palms and 17 identified as “other”. The plan would also require an easement of the Modoc reserve.

“We are looking at all options,” said Chris Sneddon, the county’s deputy transportation manager. “But there is no scenario where we could protect all the trees.”

Linda Tucker has lived across from the Modoc Trees since 1961. She was 8 years old when her parents bought the house and she was among the first students to walk to nearby. Vieja Valley School when it opened at 434 Nogal Drive. She fled from skunks and snakes, picked leaves and studied fish skeletons left behind by winter rains.

Today, she walks her dogs and escapes into nature. She calls the Modoc Preserve “the field”.

“The field is a very popular place for me and my neighbors,” Tucker told Noozhawk. “A lot of us hit the trails every day and enjoy the changing seasons. We keep it, love it and honor it because it is part of us and a beautiful part of the community in which we live.

Jayne Sigman
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Jayne Sigman, who often brings her children to the Modoc Preserve, objects to trees being cut down along Modoc Road. “It will change the whole dynamic of the region,” she says. (Photo by Joshua Molina/Noozhawk)

Although the county said it informed local residents, she said it was only last month that she saw a small group of county officials with a clipboard and maps discussing the track. cycling near trees.

“I will do everything I can to ensure that our beloved field is untouched by heavy equipment and asphalt, that our trees remain the nesting grounds of hawks and the palms the migratory destination of orioles. who have been coming here for generations,” says Tucker.

“These eucalypts and most of the historic palms survived the Painted Cave fire and I want to see them survive for decades.”

Another neighbour, Shelly Cobb, is a beekeeper. She said she only found out about the project a week ago.

“We are very confused as to why we have to fight for the trees,” Cobb said, adding that the Modoc Preserve was established in 1999 and is owned by the Cumbre Water Mutualwhich serves Hope Ranch and nearby neighborhoods.

“From a wildlife perspective, this reserve means a lot to us because we see monarch butterflies coming out of the eucalyptus trees. There are so many birds and wildlife that use these trees as their homes.

Sneddon said he understands neighbors’ concerns, but stressed that this stretch of Modoc Road is a crucial and final link in Isla Vista’s transportation network, through Goleta and the unincorporated portion of the county, to Las Positas Road and Cliff Drive in Santa Barbare.

Modoc Road Cycle Path
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The Modoc Road bike path is currently not separated from traffic on the busy street. (Photo by Joshua Molina/Noozhawk)

He said live oak trees would be replaced at a ratio of 10 to 1 or 5 to 1, depending on size. The oaks would be planted along the bike path and/or in the Modoc Preserve or other county-managed open spaces.

The bike path will make it safer for cyclists and keep them away from the road.

“It creates a separate lane for all modes of transportation,” Sneddon said.

Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart said the trail will increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians, provide the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the county takes concerns about tree preservation very seriously. The project team is working to minimize tree removal and identify ways to improve the reserve for generations to come.

“I am determined to roll up my sleeves and work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find a design solution and alignment that will protect the environment and create a beautiful new bike path,” Hart said.

– Noozhawk writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Login with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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