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Santa Barbara Co. supervisors approve Santa Maria River Levee Trail extension

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Posted at 6:14 PM, May 17, 2022

A hiking trail in Santa Maria will soon be extended.

After hearing public comment, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an extension of the Santa Maria River Levee Trail.

Advocates for the trail extension said more outdoor spaces are needed in Santa Maria. Those in opposition said an approval would be detrimental to food safety.

Right now, the Santa Maria River Levee Trail stretches across 6.7 miles of the city, but an expansion would more than double its size.

Advocates from Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) said an extension of the trail to Guadalupe would provide much-needed, additional outdoor spaces for locals.

"Communities of color are actually three times more likely to live in a nature-deprived area across the United States and this is true for Santa Maria as well," said Rebeca Garcia, Policy Advocate for CAUSE.

Garcia said an extension of the trail would help improve the overall health of her community while providing more outdoor space in northern Santa Barbara County.

"Santa Maria is the biggest city in the county yet we only have two trails and a total of eight miles in the city," Garcia said. "When we look at Santa Barbara, they have over 130 miles and 52 trails just within the city alone."

But not everyone is on board with the extension. Lacy Litten, the president of Facts from Farmers, said an expansion of the trail to Guadalupe would jeopardize food production in the region.

She said multiple local farms are located on both the north and south ends of the levee trail, and they fear an extension would result in increased traffic of cyclists, pedestrians and trespassers that could impact food safety.

Litten said this addition of more outdoor spaces is, "The right idea, in the wrong place."