The California Coastal Trail
The California Coastal Trail (CCT) is one of the great trails of our nation. Once completed, it will extend 1,200 miles from Oregon to Mexico. While informal trails along our coast have been used for centuries, the CCT’s more recent history began in 1972 when Californians passed Proposition 20 recommending that a California Coastal Zone Conservation Plan be developed, including a public access element calling for maximum visual and physical use and enjoyment of the coastal zone by the public. In 1999, the CCT was designated at the state and federal level as a Millenium Legacy Trail, and in 2001 state legislation called for its completion. Today, roughly half of the CCT is complete.
Enacted in 1976, the State Coastal Conservancy Act (Division 21 Section 31000 et al of the Public Resources Code) calls for the Coastal Conservancy to have a principal role in the implementation of a system of public accessways to and along the state’s coastline, including development of the California Coastal Trail. The Coastal Conservancy pursues this mandate in part by awarding grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations to acquire land, or any interest therein, or to develop, operate, or manage lands for public access purposes to and along the coast, on terms and conditions the Coastal Conservancy specifies. In addition, the Coastal Conservancy works with other state agencies including the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Coastal Commission to coordinate development of the California Coastal Trail.
In 2001, the Governor signed Senate Bill 908 directing the Coastal Conservancy to report back to the Legislature on progress made completing the trail. In 2003, the “Completing the California Coastal Trail” Report described the status of the trail and outlined strategies for its completion. SB 908 also directed the Coastal Conservancy to provide grants and assistance to establish and expand inland trail systems that may be linked to the trail, and directed agencies with property interests or regulatory authority in coastal areas to cooperate with the Coastal Conservancy with respect to planning and making lands available for completion of the trail.
More recently, in 2007 the Governor signed SB 1396 directing the Coastal Conservancy to coordinate development of the Coastal Trail with the Department of Transportation (Caltrans). This bill also required local transportation planning agencies whose jurisdiction includes a portion of the Coastal Trail, or property designated for the trail to coordinate with the Coastal Conservancy, Coastal Commission, and Caltrans regarding development of the trail.