Balboa Park access in the Golden Hill area is much safer and easier thanks to a $380,000 project to restore the pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists along 26th Street. City and project leaders officially cut the ribbon in a ceremony on January 31 to mark completion of the months-long project carried out by California Conservation Corps (CCC) in partnership with Forever Balboa Park and the city.
With project coordination provided by Jackie Higgins, Forever Balboa Park’s VP of Planning, in conjunction with the city, CCC Corpsmembers tamed the footpath that had naturally been created by bicyclists and pedestrians over the years. Over a period of several months, they cleared, widened, and stabilized the trail to make it easier to navigate and to protect it from an ephemeral stream that flows through the area after heavy rains. They also built stone stairs into the steep hill at the top of 26th Street, replaced the four dilapidated wood footbridges, and installed lodgepole fencing to protect trail users from 26th Street vehicular traffic.
As a final touch, Forever Balboa Park volunteer Tree Stewards worked with San Diego veteran groups to plant 25 baby coast live oak trees in the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honoring the original dedication of the grove. This important restoration method strengthens the grove and will eventually add more aesthetic beauty, cooling shade, and other environmental benefits to this scenic park access point.
The 26th Street Trail Restoration project is part of California’s Active Transportation Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging walking and biking to get around. The project plan began in 2019 when Forever Balboa formed a unique partnership with the California Conservation Corps. After a park ranger identified the unsafe makeshift trail as a priority project, CCC secured state funding with Forever Balboa Park as its nonprofit partner. Forever Balboa Park’s right of entry agreement with the city enabled CCC to begin work on the project in April 2022 following pandemic-related delays.
“Collaborating with the CCC and the city to improve visitor experience and safety, while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is a win-win for everyone,” said Jackie Higgins, Forever Balboa Park’s Vice President of Planning. “California Conservation Corps did a remarkable job on the 26th Street Trail, and Forever Balboa Park looks forward to working with them again in the future.”
“The importance of providing safe and environmentally conscious transportation pathways between our communities continues to grow,” said Lisa Tomas, CCC San Diego District Director. “Unique partnerships like this one, with the City of San Diego, the California Conservation Corps, and Forever Balboa Park, serve the greater good of our communities.”
California Conservation Corps
A state agency, the California Conservation Corps offers young adults a paid opportunity to improve California’s natural resources and communities. The CCC’s mission is to help transform the lives of its Corpsmembers in their own communities. San Diego Corpsmembers are given the opportunity to directly impact their own neighborhoods, gain hands-on work experience, and discover future employment opportunities.