Is it rebirth? Or destruction?
Davis resident Karen Froyland stood Thursday on what she considers the original “deer trail” of the Northstar Nature Trail in the Northstar interior greenbelt. Residents say it was established in the early 1990s.
Under her feet were off-white pulverized granite pebbles and dirt, and above her stood a rust-colored metal arbor. Native trees, grasses and plants punctuate the path, but there is something else going on.
City landscapers are making new paths, piling up dirt that, to her, ruins the whole point of having irrigation by drainage down the gentle slope that leads to the path. New trails are too wide, seem to run through native grasses at some point and will kill trees, she said.
The wind blew fiercely, but Froyland and others’ criticism of what is happening at the nature trail is no less cold.
“They are ripping it up,” she said. “That’s what our question is: Why are they ripping it up?”
City of Davis parks manager Dave Lucksheider said the city is not “ripping it up,” but embarking on small-scale rehabilitation of buried trails, a slow project that is in the midst of being done. Why, look at the brochure map at the trailhead — the one city parks officials took down to use as their blueprint for what should be done.
“We’ll get a new map posted soon,” he said.
Davis resident Penny Anderson wrote a letter to the editor of The Enterprise saying she is puzzled why the city is bothering with the trail when it took out half the garbage cans and seems to do less park maintenance.
“We really felt like we were out in the country,” she wrote of the trail experience. “It was a quiet area. Not anymore.”
The trail, north of Norte Avenue, was established by the Habitat Conservation Fund, the Davis Adopt-A-Park Program and the city parks department. Lucksheider said it was done as a volunteer project.
Citing the map, he said the new-looking trails are indicated as part of the original plan on the map, with loopbacks and crossings.
“(Residents) just may not be aware of other mulching paths,” he said, adding that city workers are able to work on it only a couple of hours each day, which may add to an unfinished look.
“It’s still the same existing trails, it’s just that there were trails that disappeared,” Lucksheider said. “It’s basically mulch that’s been moved out of the way.”
Froyland sees things differently. The new-looking trails of the path are inviting kids to race their BMX bikes where solemn, meditative walks by older residents once occurred.
“There’s people all the time walking,” she said. “There’s people all the time reading.”
In the meantime, Lucksheider isn’t sure when the rehabilitation project will end.
— Reach Dave Ryan at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews