By Ashley Mackin
The California Coastal Conservancy at its June 20 meeting in Sacramento awarded a $250,000 grant to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) for the construction of a new trail segment on the SIO campus. Scripps will also contribute $100,000 to the project.
After Coastal Conservancy staff reviewed plans for the trail over the course of several months, it made the recommendation for grant approval to the board, which was accepted.
The trail will complete the network of walking paths already in place at Scripps, called the Scripps Coastal Meander, in accordance with the California Coastal Trail program. Project Manager Ken Hall said the program is supposed to be a way to walk along the coast from the Oregon border to Tijuana, Mexico.
“Right now in our region, the California Coastal Trail is the beach essentially. From La Jolla Cove, it follows the sand past Scripps up to Blacks Beach. However, it is not fully accessible at high tide,” he said.
The new trail will go along the bluffs atop the beach area and connect two observation points — one located at Biological Grade at Naga Way and another that will be constructed as a result of this grant.
“This trail proposal was seen as an important link in connecting an area that has some infrastructure in place (the observation point) and parking, including ADA-compliant spaces,” Hall said. “This is a way for someone — whether coming from the beach and wanting to walk the upland route or someone just looking for a viewpoint who wants to get out of their car — to experience a little bit of the coastal terrace habitat and some amazing views.”
Additionally, with the opening of the new MESOM laboratory, Hall said there was a need for a new pedestrian walkway. He explained that currently, the best walking route is Biological Grade, which is also the best vehicular access route for the MESOM building. When the lab opens, vehicular traffic will increase, he said.
Now that the project can move forward with finances secured, SIO will finalize the construction documents and find the right contractor, but because the trail would essentially be built by hand, their hope is to work with a youth organization. Hall said they would like to engage California Conservation Corps or urban Corps of San Diego County.
“Because we want to be sensitive of the habitat, the design of the trail is such that it can be built without putting any heavy machinery onto the hillside,” he said.
Depending on how quickly a contractor is found, Hall said construction should start in October and be completed in January 2014.