On Wednesdays at 8 a.m., a group of seniors gathers in front of the Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon. They joke around and gear up before journeying into the trails to maintain and repair them, so all who come to Towsley Canyon may enjoy the hiking trails.
The group consists of Richard Piccini, Steve Ieorger, Dan Dolan, Mathew Carter, Lynn McKenzie, Cliff Davis, Steve Martin, Cathy Martin, MaryAnn Mays and Kelly Walston.
The group began working with the Mountain Recreation Conservation Authority in 2005 with about 12 members, according to volunteer leader Ieorger.
“They’re all volunteers that come out every Wednesday, work from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and they build new trails, maintain the existing trails, and without them, the city of Santa Clarita’s open space and trails department would be lost,” said Jeff Morrison, administrator of open space and trails.
Morrison said the volunteers had developed more than 15 miles of trails in collaboration with the city. When the group works on the trails on Wednesdays, many hikers will approach the group and thank them.
“Every time we’re out working, people stop and say, ‘Thank you, we appreciate the work you do,’” Morrison said.
This particular Wednesday, the group planned to repair the Taylor Elder Loop in Towsley Canyon because the recent heavy rain damaged the trails the group created. The group pulled weeds, leveled the trail paths and created rock outlines on the trail bench.
“So we’ll go back up and dig back to make the trail wide enough again to hike,” Piccini said. “We build water bars to keep the water from eroding the trail so that the water runs off the trail and downstream.”
Piccini enjoys his work because he wants to get outside once a week and help out. He uses a McLeod tool, a combination of a hoe and a rake that can be used for clearing brush and leveling the ground.
The volunteers don’t do this work for payment, recognition or any potential praise. Instead, they do volunteer work for the community and enthusiasts of nature and the outdoors.
Although they volunteer for the love of it, some members like Ieorger received the
President’s Volunteer Service Award from the city of Santa Clarita. The PVSA honors individuals whose volunteer service positively impacts communities.
“It was neat that they honored us. (There are) three of us who’ve got quite a few hours with it because we end up volunteering most of the time,” Ieorger said.
Ieorger enjoys volunteering because he feels he has a purpose for getting up in the morning and can immediately see his progress on the trail.
The motivation for volunteer McKenzie is that she has seen the Santa Clarita Valley change since 1976 and felt privileged to have all the open space areas. She wanted to help keep the trails beautiful.
For McKenzie, she’s grateful for the support from the outdoor enthusiasts because they thank the group, and many were previously unaware of the volunteer work the group does.
“The people are very happy that we’re actually maintaining the trails because they didn’t know,” McKenzie said. “They think it’s just a crew that comes out from the city to maintain the trails.”
McKenzie is happy that the community can see the great work the group does on the trails. She encourages people to volunteer, regardless of ability.
“I think that maybe people think they can’t participate or contribute, but everybody can,” McKenzie said. “We have different jobs that we do and are not as taxing as some of the other jobs that people do.”
The group’s most significant issue is the lack of volunteers, and they encourage individuals interested to sign up at www.hikesantaclarita.com.
“We need volunteers because the more people we have, the more we can get done, and the less each one of us has to do,” Ieorger said.
Cathy and Steve Martin are a retired married couple and began volunteering with the city of Santa Clarita and Ieorger to beautify and maintain the trails. The Martins feel the most rewarding part is providing input on how the trails are built.
The importance of the input is essential to the couple because they want to make the trails useful for nature hikers and people biking the trails. Additionally, they like the direct feedback from the community about their work.
“We’ve done Wildwood trails that are just over the hill,” Steve Martin said. “Those trails are real close to our house, so those are really personal to me.”
The couple contributes volunteer work in different ways and knows there will be a need for volunteers to help with the vegetation growth.
“This year, with all this rain, I think we’ve had over 13 inches of rain, there’s going be a lot of growth, and it’s gonna be really hard for us to keep up when things start growing again.” Steve Martin said.