The Environmental Committee works to protect the watershed and to educate the public on forestry issues, erosion control, hazardous waste, recycling, and other issues. We also monitor government policies and procedures.
PG&E is a high priority for the Environmental Committee due to its massive and destructive felling of trees to prevent wildfires when unsafe, unreliable, antiquated equipment is the fundamental cause of the fires. From working on legislation and a new Franchise Agreement for PG&E in the County to in-depth research and analysis to support work with agencies affecting PG&E and helping folks protect their trees from PG&E’s contractors, this keeps the group busy. We work with a State-wide Utility Wildfire Prevention Taskforce on these issues.
Your help is needed.
Visit https://endpowerlinefires.com for more information.
River & Road Clean Up
with Save Our Shores
Annual Environmental Town Hall
Felton Community Hall
First Saturday of the month
Second Saturday if the first Saturday is a holiday weekend.
10:30 am at VWC Office at Highlands Park Senior Center
On Zoom and in-person. Email for Zoom info.
Meetings are open to the public.
Call 338-6578 or email for information.
The Felton Town Plan was approved in May 1987. At that time, the Felton Covered Bridge Park was still just an idea; in the document, it was called “Proposed Felton Commons.” However, the Town Plan had a lot to say about the community’s desires regarding the improvements desired in the area that is now the park. They wanted parking, a playground, and a grass meadow to frame the view of the Historic Landmark Felton Covered Bridge.
“New or renovated physical improvements or landscaping shall not block or limit views of, or visually distract from, or compete with, views of the Historic Felton Covered Bridge, as seen from Graham Hill Road or Mount Hermon Road.”
The Town Plan also describes at length the concerns associated with the San Lorenzo River floodplain, which includes Felton Grove, the horse stables, and the entire area that would eventually become the Covered Bridge Park.
“The Site is currently privately owned. However, the entire parcel is within the 100-year flood plain, and most of the parcel is within the Floodway – rendering the parcel unbuildable… New development activity is not allowed in the Floodway… All development activity, except for the reconstruction, alteration, or improvement of an existing structure, is prohibited within the Floodway unless exempted by State or Federal laws.”
In 1993, the Felton Covered Bridge Park Plan was completed, and like the Town Plan, it resulted from extensive collaboration with Felton’s residents. The Park was envisioned as a means to protect the views of the Covered Bridge, and the community rejected initial designs featuring a large parking lot and transit center in favor of more grass and a volleyball court. The park was mainly built thanks to donations by the community of materials, labor, and love. The document’s design section makes clear the intended uses of the park:
“What makes this project special is the design process it went through, the volunteer effort by the community to actually build the park, and the projects design respect for the historic Felton Covered Bridge Structure…In order to preserve views of the historic Felton Covered Bridge from the intersection of Graham Hill Road and Mountain Hermon, the park had to blend into its wooden surroundings. To achieve this goal, a rustic design theme was incorporated into the project, wherein the play structure located in front of the Covered Bridge was made out of wood, along with the informational kiosk, picnic tables and benches. The use of wood for these park amenities did not detract from the view of the bridge… This park has truly been embraced by the community. The continuous walkway in the park provides a safe place for kids to learn how the ride a bike or to roller blade. This is a rural community, therefore residential sidewalks are not provided and the roads are narrow. This park provides parents in the San Lorenzo Valley with an alternative to the streets to teach their kids many recreational activities, besides allowing the elderly a safe place to walk.”
We recognize that 1993 was some time ago, and a lot has changed in the Valley. It may be time to revisit the Town and Park Plans to update them to reflect the consensus of the current community. But currently, that public ground-up visioning process is being denied to us, as a Pump Track project that does not align with these planning documents or Floodway concerns appears to be on the verge of approval. Where do we go from here? How can we ensure SLV residents have a seat at the table regarding decisions impacting their community?