PATHS' Trail Proposal for the Dish Area
Statement by P.A.T.H.S.,
In September, Stanford University closed off approximately 80%
of the trails and paths in the Stanford Foothills (Dish area) to
public access, due to environmental damage thought to be due to
public use of the area. Because we believe that public use is not
a major factor in whatever ecosystem degradation is present, and
because Stanford desires a good relationship with surrounding communities,
and in light of Santa Clara County staff comments on the Stanford
Community Plan: "Development associated with the General Use Permit
creates a need and an opportunity for trail dedication on Stanford
land" (p. 78, Modifications to staff recommended Community Plan/GUP,
October 2000), P.A.T.H.S. offers a possible design for trail and
path accessibility in the Dish area. We request your input and welcome
ideas for other scenarios.
- Stanford hosts a public trail planning process in which
community members, resource management experts, and Stanford
together create a Master Trail Plan for the Stanford Foothills,
giving strong consideration to establishing regional trail
- For a specified time period, say 25 years, or 50 years,
or in perpetuity, Stanford grants the county easements or
uses another legal tool which would allow right of passage
on the trails.
- The county builds and maintains trails, assuming liability
through an agreement.
- Responsibility for oversight and operations is undertaken
by a third party such as County Parks and Recreation, Midpeninsula
Open Space District, etc.
Of course many details remain to be worked out, including cost
distribution, burden of liability, and format of the planning process.
This type of plan would be a tremendous opportunity for Stanford
to enhance it's community relations at a low cost to the University,
both in terms of time and money. A precedent for this kind of inter-organizational
alliance is found in the joint power agreement governing San Francisquito
Creek, where Stanford, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, the Santa Clara Water
District and San Mateo County have combined forces for the last
Considerations Relevant to Trail Proposal by P.A.T.H.S.
The 5th Supervisoral District in Santa Clara County has for years
paid 26% of the annual tax dollars received by the Park Charter
Fund and has received 16% of the county's park acreage. We'd like
to better understand this seemingly disproportionate allocation
of park land, and propose that county involvement in construction
and maintenance of trails on Stanford lands could assist in remedying
this apparent inequity.
There is no county park in the 5th district north of Rancho San
Antonio, and none in the northwestern corner of the county. Trails
and paths in the Dish area have proven (by their usage) to be needed
We must question the assumption that a sensitive ecosystem cannot
coexist with public usage of an area. This is shown to be an erroneous
assumption by the existence of many parks and open spaces with environmentally
sensitive habitat which at the same time allow public access, such
as Crystal Springs Reservoir Park, many Midpeninsula Regional Open
Space parks, and parks throughout the world such as Hampstead Heath
in London, where sensitive habitat has long been managed for public
use by a scientific and systematic resource management approach.