UKIAH, CA, 6/7/22 – The Ukiah Valley Trail Group has received $32,000 in funds to improve Lake Mendocino trail offerings between the Dam and Spillway, the nonprofit announced Thursday.
The gift came from Pacific Redwood Medical Group, on the heels of a $25,000 donation in 2019 that funded a new trail above City View Trail at Low Gap Park. That path opened May 15 after 60 volunteers worked to complete it.
Pacific Redwood Medical Group felt the mission of Ukiah Valley Trail Group, a volunteer operation that aims to preserve and enhance inland Mendocino County’s trails, aligns with its own by promoting physically active lifestyles.
This specific project will improve the longevity of existing community trails and make them more accessible.
“The primary problem we are trying to address at Lake Mendocino is trails that are too steep,” Ukiah Valley Trail Group board member Neil Davis said, saying steeper trails experience more erosion and become harder to maintain. He added that “really steep trails aren’t very fun.”
“We see many more people hiking trails that stick to our gentler gradients,” he explained.
While the Pacific Redwood Medical Group’s corporation provided the initial seed money and pays annual management fees on its fund, all the rest of the funding comes solely from employee donations by the medical group’s doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. Established in 2016 with the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, the fund aims to contribute to community health through “efforts to ensure a just and prosperous community.”
“By working with the Community Foundation, we can allow funds to accumulate,” Dr. Debbie Marks of Pacific Redwood Medical Group shared. “Then, when the right community-based prevention project comes along, we will be in a position to make a substantial grant. With the help of the Community Foundation, the impact of our collective giving is so much greater than our individual gifts.”
These physicians also care for patients with medical challenges that would warrant a specialist at a metropolitan hospital, a news release detailed.
“You can’t just be good to practice medicine here,” Marks said. “You have to be really good.”
Donating to the group’s fund is voluntary – but according to the news release, most full-time employees show their dedication to the community beyond their hours on the job by contributing monthly.
The Ukiah Valley Trail Group is grateful for the support.
“The research is clear that if you create pleasant convenient places to exercise, more people exercise more often,” local trainer and Trail Group board member Mike Cannon said. “We had 120 people show up for the PRMG-funded new trail opening at Low Gap Park, and now with this new gift we expect to be able to do something similar in a year or two at Lake Mendocino.”
The Ukiah Valley Trail Group is excited to direct more of its energy toward building trails, rather than fundraising for the needed changes. While the project is still in early stages, Davis said the group hopes to create a “more accessible and appealing” hike that starts at the dam and heads counter-clockwise around Lake Mendocino.
“This will allow us to complete the reroute of old, poorly aligned trail on the southwest corner of the lake and make it a much more appealing and accessible route,” Cannon said. He reiterated, “Great trails, close to home is what gets people out and exercising.”
Kate Fishman reports on the environment and natural resources for The Mendocino Voice as a corps member with Report for America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support her work here or email [email protected]. TMV maintains editorial control. You can reach Fishman at [email protected] or at (707) 234-7735.