REGION — August was a great month for trail lovers and September is shaping up to be pretty good as well.
More than $50,000 that was raised or donated will help bring two county projects — the Coast to Crest Trail and River Path Del Mar extension — closer to fruition.
In mid-August REI invited 5.5 million co-op members and outdoor adventurers to participate in its Every Trail Connects campaign by voting for one of 10 U.S. trails, including the Coast to Crest.
The specialty outdoor retailer donated $5 for each free vote. In 37 hours and 25 minutes 100,000 votes were cast.
Supporters of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and River Park raised $33,825 by casting 6,766 votes for the Coast to Crest Trail, which extends from the ocean at Del Mar to the San Dieguito River’s source on Volcan Mountain near Julian.
“This shows the amazing support the conservancy has from its members and partners to complete the Coast to Crest Trail,” Trish Boaz, executive director of the conservancy, said.
REI granted an additional $10,000 to each of the 10 trails, totaling a $600,000 investment, and raising the total for the Coast to Crest Trail to $43,825.
The funds will be used to complete a 3-mile segment of the trail at Pamo Valley, closing one of the last remaining gaps of the 70-mile path. About 45 miles are already completed.
REI has granted $70,000 to seven nonprofits in the San Diego area this year, including $7,000 to the conservancy for the River Path Del Mar extension.
Shortly after Every Trail Connects ended the conservancy received a $20,000 grant from the Walter J. and Betty C. Zable Foundation that will go toward the extension project, which will help visitors learn about the lagoon environment and the River Valley Park.
The existing trail goes from Jimmy Durante Boulevard west to the coast and parallels the south edge of the river.
The grant will help fund the construction of 2,965-foot addition that will advance the current path east from Jimmy Durante to the Old Grand Avenue Bridge viewpoint and bring the scenic loop trail one step closer to a future connection at the Crest Canyon segment.
The total project cost is estimated to be $475,000, which includes design, entitlements and easement acquisition, environmental review and mitigation and construction.
About 65 percent of the funding has been committed through a $150,000 county grant provided through District 3 Supervisor Dave Roberts; $73,000 in private donations and $54,500 in grants received by the conservancy; and $35,000 from Del Mar, including a $5,000 grant from the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley.
“This is the first donation San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy has been awarded by the Zable Foundation and we are very pleased to be partnering with them on the project,” Boaz said.
To create additional opportunities to engage with trails, REI stores are partnering with nonprofit organizations to host or promote volunteer events for National Public Lands Day Sept. 26.
REI, the conservancy and Del Mar are sponsoring a cleanup event from 9 to 11 a.m. that day at River Path Del Mar.
Volunteers are needed to clear vegetation and debris in preparation for the construction of the extension project.
Participants will receive free REI Stewards T-shirts while supplies last. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes, bring a reusable water bottle and gardening or work gloves if they have them.
Visit the city website at delmar.ca.us for more information or to register.
Donations are still being sought to close a $162,500 funding gap for the extension project.