Posted by marilynch
Jacks Peak Park, rare native Monterey Pine forest: An oasis at risk
Jim Johnson’s 12/21/16 report in the Monterey Herald, “County to consider handing over control of Jacks Peak Park to regional parks district,” provides an update of interest to anyone who wants to have a voice about the future of this peaceful sanctuary.
Scroll this post for photos and some history about Jacks Peak Park. Please respect that bicycling is not permitted on the trails, only on the paved roads. Dogs are only permitted on-leash and must be supervised at all times; clean up after your pet.
As of July 22, 2015, the Monterey County Parks Department advises that in cooperation with a Forest Service restriction on fires, until further notice, barbecuing will not be permitted at Jacks Peak Park.
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Update: Good news! Thank you to Joyce Stevens and others who work to protect Jacks Peak.
- “Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District seals land purchase, honors Monterey pine forest activist,” Kera Abraham, Monterey County Weekly, 12/3/14.
- “Storied pine forest near Jacks Peak preserved,” Julia Reynolds, Monterey County Herald, 12/4/14.
Deadline: 9/30/14. As reported in the Californian on 9/19/14, Monterey County Parks Department has launched an online survey, through Sept 30.
Please note the following with regard to weaknesses in the survey. For more on that topic, you may review a letter sent to the County Supervisors, Interim Parks Director, and the survey project director; download here: Letter re weaknesses in County Parks survey. – Update: Click here for the Monterey County Weekly “Squid Fry,” 9/25/14, then scroll down to “Survey Fail.”
- A question repeatedly asked in the survey is regarding what you consider to be the greatest risk to a particular park. Unfortunately, although the choices you may select include even such things as climate change, there is no option to select if you are concerned about “Commercial interests adversely impacting the park” and “Inappropriate use disturbing the natural environment” (e.g., the zipline that had been proposed earlier for Jacks Peak), or “Private concession running the park.” You may wish to express such concerns regardless, by providing comments.
- Although the survey is to solicit community input, as of 9/22/14, there are comment fields limited to 50 characters. When you are filling out this online survey, you may wish to jot notes to yourself along the way, so you can offer longer comment later in the survey (where a longer comment field appears), or by contacting county supervisors directly.
Click here to take the survey, available in English and Spanish. To my knowledge, as of 9/22/14, no paper option is available for people unable to complete the survey online.
Before completing the survey, people who are specifically concerned about protecting Jacks Peak Park may wish to contact Friends of Jacks Peak Park with their questions.
Friends of Jacks Peak Park, founded November 2011.
- Website: http://friendsofjackspeakpark.com/
- Phone: 831-224-0478
- Postal mail: 395 Del Monte Center Box 222, Monterey, CA 93940
- Email: friendsofjackspeakpark [at] gmail [dot] com
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Thanks to all the vocal people who have already spoken up to protect Jacks Peak! For some history and photos, scroll down.
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For more news about our county parks, see Kera Abraham’s stories in the Monterey County Weekly (as well as others linked below): “Monterey County’s biggest local park agencies paint entirely different landscapes,” 6/12/14; “County Parks rangers get layoff notices while supervisors scramble for solutions,” 7/17/14; “More on the County Parks funding crunch: root causes and potential solutions,” 7/18/14.
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1/26/13 update: David Bates knows “Pine forests are not just a bunch of trees but a functioning ecosystem with some unique characteristics.” The work of David and other members of Monterey Pine Forest Watch, including his co-authors of Coastal California’s Legacy: The Monterey Pine Forest, played a big role in raising awareness about why a zipline is not right for Jacks Peak Park. Click here for a 1/24/13 story by Robert Walch in the Salinas Californian’s Off 68 regarding David’s connection with Monterey Pines. Besides Wild Bird Haven, mentioned in Walch’s story, additional sources for purchasing the book are listed below.
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I believe that a zipline could be an asset somewhere in Monterey County–but not in Jacks Peak Park. Whether you agree, disagree, or are undecided, please consider reading the information provided here, including this post, the links provided, and the comments below it.
Updates to this post
- New generations of families continue to enjoy Jacks Peak Park and its beautiful views–exactly as it is. Click here for Adventures of the Smith Family, 5/6/12.
- Jacks Peak Park is located within Monterey County’s 5th Supervisorial District. With regard to Monterey County’s 5th District Supervisor candidates for 2012 election, Marc Del Piero is opposed to a zipline at Jacks Peak Park, a passive use park. Incumbent County Supervisor Dave Potter traveled to Whistler, Canada for a Ziptrek demonstration in October 2010, as reported in Kera Abraham’s 4/26/12 Monterey County Weekly story; Abraham also reported that Supervisor Potter has recently decided he is opposed to a zipline at Jacks Peak.
- 4/26/12: “Jack Zipped Down: County parks, opponents dig in over Jacks Peak zipline proposal” by Kera Abraham in the Monterey County Weekly. Abraham’s story indicates a zipline at Jacks Peak Park has lost the support of the family of Talcott and Margaret Pardee Bates, who once owned the park’s core.
- 4/14/12: Letter from Joyce Stevens to the Monterey County Herald (Joyce is co-author of Coastal California’s Legacy: The Monterey Pine Forest; learn more below.)
- 12/15/11: Has County staff been neutral? Monterey County Weekly Squid Fry, “Zip slip.” [Update: George Winfrey, who commented below in favor of the zipline, seems to now see the matter differently in his 5/15/12 question for Supervisor Potter in the KSBW Live Townhall:
“Supervisor Potter, we have all heard that you may or may not be in favor of the zip line on Jacks Peak. Could you once and for all tell us your position on it? It is the largest stand of Monterey Pines and is a place of relaxation and peace with nature.”by George Winfrey 5:49 PM]
- 11/25/11: Peggy Downes Baskin and Cammy Torgenrud letter in the 11/24/11 Monterey County Herald, and Demetrius A. Kastros and Patrice Vecchione letters to the Herald, 11/25.
- 11/17/11: The many public comments at the November 17 meeting of the Monterey County Parks Board of Commissioners–including comments by a former Monterey County supervisor, Karin Strasser Kauffman—all expressed opposition to a zipline at Jacks Peak. Each park commissioner was presented with two related books (details below): Coastal California’s Legacy: The Monterey Pine Forestand Jacks Peak Journal. Read the 11/18 story by Monterey County Herald writer Larry Parsons, “Zipline project faces heavy opposition.”
- More local press links below, including Kera Abraham’s story in the 9/15/11 Monterey County Weekly. Abraham’s story was the first local press report about the proposed zipline.
- The Monterey Peninsula Audobon Society has joined the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Monterey Pine Forest Watch in calling for a full Environmental Impact Report about the proposed zipline at Jacks Peak.
- The Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club has voted to support the effort of Friends of Jacks Peak Park to defeat the proposed zipline; and the chapter voted to contribute funding to hire lawyers to evaluate the EIR due out in March. [See 2/22/12 update by Larry Parsons of the Monterey County Herald; then stay informed.] See the Ventana chapter March 2012 update.
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Jacks Peak Park is a rare native Monterey Pine forest where Ziptrek Ecotours proposes installing a zipline.
Why are the Monterey Pine Forest Watch, the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club, and theMonterey Peninsula Audobon Society requesting a full Environmental Impact Report?
Being good stewards of nature is an ever more challenging job, and even moreso when opportunities come that promise help during times of budget cuts.
Monterey County officials are in negotiations with a proposed concessionaire, Canadian company Ziptrek Ecotours, to install a zipline at Jacks Peak Park. At present, Jacks Peak makes up an approximately $4,000 annual revenue shortfall with income from more profitable Monterey County parks, such as Laguna Seca and Lake Nacimiento.
Whatever your opinion is, you may wish to consider the below.
Sometimes the park is mistakenly referred to as “Jack’s Peak.” The name is Jacks Peak (no apostrophe), after the David Jacks family. Read a brief history of the park, as shown on a park sign. Responsibility for this land went from David Jacks to the Talcott and Margaret Pardee Bates family to the Nature Conservancy and finally to its present caretaker, the County of Monterey.
Jacks Peak Park is an oasis from the Monterey Peninsula’s more heavily trafficked areas, for both residents and visitors.
Coastal California’s Legacy: The Monterey Pine Forest is a 2011 book by Monterey Pine Forest Watch authors Rita Dalessio, Joyce Stevens, Nicole Nedeff, and David Bates. Included in the book is Jacks Peak Park, which has the largest native stand of Monterey Pine forest in the world.
The book is available locally at Pilgrim’s Way (a Monterey Bay Certified Green Business), River House Books, and Carmel Bay Company, all in Carmel, and Wild Bird Haven in Monterey, for $22. Proceeds go to the Monterey Pine Forest Watch’s education efforts. Local public libraries, such as Monterey Public, also carry the book.
“The book just says, ‘Do the right thing,’”
Dalessio stated to the Monterey County Weekly. Preserving for future generations the special nature of Jacks Peak Park and its “cathedral-like forests,” as the Monterey County Parks website recognizes them, is the right thing to do in the minds of many Monterey Pine enthusiasts, and to my mind and heart as well. That’s why Monterey Pine Forest Watch, the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Monterey Peninsula Audobon Society want a full Environmental Impact Report. [Update: At the 11/17/11 Park Commissioners meeting, former Monterey County supervisor Karin Strasser Kauffman also called for a full EIR, as well as staking to make the project’s dimensions visible.]
You can help preserve Jacks Peak.
Please refer to the suggestions under “How you can help” at the end of this post.
Not sure? Read on.
Use of the park
Besides being the world’s largest native stand of Monterey Pines, Jacks Peak is a Central Coast treasure in other ways. The Monterey County Herald’s 11/6/11 story included an assessment by Monterey County Parks that “Jacks Peak Park is grossly underutilized” and that “to deny use of the park to visitors [apparently referring to opposition to a zipline] is troubling.”
At first, some people respond to Jacks Peak as author, poet, and playwright Patrice Vecchione once did, before she wrote Jacks Peak Journal: “After circling the parking lot, I came to the wrong conclusion—that it was just a picnic area.” Vecchione returned, and “It took several more visits to learn that this was no mere slip of a place but that a whole world lay at my feet.”
Since the late 1970s, my family and friends have delighted in Jacks Peak Park. As residents of the county, we have introduced scores of visitors to the park and its many gifts. Repeat trips were looked forward to by visitor after visitor. My mother, who also loved the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center (a remote location that is a two-hour drive from Monterey, including a 14-mile winding dirt road) was grateful that she could likewise experience such peace and quiet right here on the peninsula, at the easily accessed Jacks Peak Park.
Never did we think, “If only there was something more at Jacks Peak.” Nor did we feel that we were being denied a different kind of wilderness experience because we could not enjoy an adventure sport there, such as that experienced in downtown San Francisco, a location where the proposed concessionaire, Ziptrek Ecotours, has operated a zipline.
While a zipline could be a fun option in Monterey County–if offered at an appropriate location–adventure tourism, even “eco-adventures,” need not be an option in every landscape. Want more excitement? There are increasing numbers of places to find that, although a diminishing number of places to find…
A special place apart
Our visitors and other friends consistently exclaim over the unique experience of this spectacular park, an oasis from the Monterey Peninsula’s more well known attractions and high traffic areas. As the Monterey County Parks website rightfully boasts in its welcome statement, county parks offer a variety of experiences, from water sports at Lake San Antonio to “quiet meditation at Jacks Peak Park.” The park is appreciated by all ages, from tiny tots to elders (such as, our friends Barbara Rowe and Arthur Nelson, both pictured below).
Jacks Peak underused? Gently used is another way to think of it. And how fortunate for locals and visitors that there still exists this very special place apart.
Rev. Carolyn Wenzel and Mari Lynch with infant daughter.
Inspires celebrating–and celebrations
Jacks Peak is both celebrated and a setting for celebrations! My son and I wrote a song about Jacks Peak in the 1980s, inspired by after-school bike rides up the road. My daughter–whose infant christening ceremony took place at Jacks Peak–loved hiking these trails, then resting on a log while we softly played pentatonic flutes, birds singing back to us from the pines.
Did you know that Jacks Peak can be rented for ceremonies and celebrations, and that, for a fee, it may be used for photography and film work? As mentioned above, the park at present has a $4,000 annual budget shortfall, made up by more profitable parks such as Laguna Seca and Lake Nacimiento, as indicated by Stella Sandoval, finance director for Monterey County Parks and reported in a 9/15/11 Monterey County Weekly story.
If sharing the funds from the more profitable parks is no longer acceptable, perhaps Jacks Peak could take in even more than $4,000 annually through such rentals and photography/film-making fees. Consider it for company parties, family reunions, weddings, and more, and spread the word about this beautiful park–an amazing backdrop for photographers and film-makers.
Also, raising more funds for Jacks Peak could make it possible to pay for extra expenses that arise some years (e.g., when park roads need to be repaved). See info below on making a voluntary donation.
If you haven’t already, check out this magnificent peninsula treasure for yourself! Then share it with loved ones, and tip off the many Monterey County visitors who cherish our beautiful natural attractions–and may have missed out on Jacks Peak until now.
Above: The late Barbara Rowe, a visitor from Dalton City, Illinois, at Jacks Peak Park, December 1996.
Below: The late poet and author Josh Jossi (at far left) and the late conservationist Arthur Nelson (grey-haired gentleman), with friends on Jacks Peak Road, at a popular Monterey Bay vista spot, November 1984.
Below, Matthew Sleeth, MD, author of Serve God, Save the Planet was visiting Monterey to speak at the First Presbyterian Church when he took time out to hike up Jacks Peak Road with Rev. Dr. Jay Bartow, April 2007.
For over 30 years, I have lived in District 5, the location of Jacks Peak Park. On September 21, 2011, I wrote a letter to my own and other county supervisors. One supervisor, Jane Parker, replied on October 3, with a letter saying she shared my concerns. [As of May 9, 2012, no reply has been received from my own supervisor or others.]
The official statement provided by the Monterey County Parks Department, as of November 10, 2011, is that the proposed zipline is considered eco-friendly, as the Ziptrek Ecotours name implies. Also stated is that Jacks Peak is “grossly underutilized,” a matter that I address above.
The statement further mentions that “it is anticipated that Ziptrek will have a far smaller impact on the Park ecology than current uses by equestrians and patrons who hike and travel within the park with pets and bicycles.” Be aware that (1) Leashed dogs are allowed within the park, a policy that perhaps County Parks would advise changing (to not allowing dogs). (2) With regard to bicycles, they are not allowed on Jacks Peak Park trails, only on the paved roads. I am in agreement with that policy, even though I am a cyclist myself. Biking the roads, then hiking the trails is appropriate use for Jacks Peak Park. (And throughout the park’s history, there has not been a problem with cyclists disrespecting the park’s restrictions.)
You may download the County Parks statement, provided 11/10/11, right here: Status of Zipline Proposal at Jack’s Peak Park-1 – with comments
Wondering about bicycling in Jacks Peak Park?
- Enjoy a bike ride up Jacks Peak Road, which is a good workout rewarded by a beautiful vista of the bay en route. You may bike as far as either of the picnic ground parking areas.
- After you’ve accomplished the climb, hop off your bike and relax! Stretch out on a blanket and read in the quiet sanctuary of the Monterey Pine forests. Or bring a picnic and enjoy your meal while observing birds and other wildlife.
Hike the trails
- Lock up your bike and hike the trails to discover more of the peace and pleasure of Jacks Peak. In addition to the joys of being up close and personal with the largest intact stand of native Monterey Pines in the world, you’ll see an abundance of other trees and plants (winter rains will deliver Indian paintbrush, sticky monkey, vetch, scarlet pimpernel, and other flowering plants–download a park brochure for more!). Be delighted by the sounds and sights of birds, animals, and insects. (Spotting a banana slug and singing their song was a typical favorite when my kids were young.) Along the way, there are sweet resting spots with beautiful vistas (e.g., of Point Lobos and Carmel Bay, and Carmel Valley).
- As Coastal California’s Legacy: The Monterey Pine Forest points out: Jacks Peak trails take you to the highest elevation on the Monterey Peninsula (1,068 feet). The park has approximately 950 acres with “the best view and hikes in the Monterey Pine Forest.”
- Jacks Peak is among recommended hikes in the book Walk this way, please: On foot on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel, Carmel Valley, and Big Sur by Irene Gaasch. As Gaasch points out in describing the breathtaking views of Jacks Peak, they are “all viewed from your perch in the pines.” The perch she refers to in her 1984 book, of course, isn’t a zipline but the hiking trails of the park, which already provide access to amazing views.
- [Updated] Blake Matheson, president of the Monterey Peninsula Audobon Society, led a bird-lovers hike to Jacks Peak 11/19/11. For 2012 hikes, contact Blake by phone at 831-596-9990 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the field trips section of the MAS website.
Make a voluntary donation
Although hikers and cyclists are admitted free, consider making a voluntary donation at the entrance kiosk anyway, or consider purchasing an annual day-use pass for all Monterey County Parks. Refer to this County Parks fee schedule for more info, including required fees for those who drive in.
You may also make a voluntary donation to the Parks Foundation of Monterey County and specify that it be used for Jacks Peak Park. Checks may be mailed to Parks Foundation of Monterey County, PO Box 4864, Salinas, CA 93912. Download a Parks Foundation brochure or read the March 12, 2010 article by Dave Nordstrand in the Salinas Californian to learn more about the many effective ways that donations to the Parks Foundation can be used. Questions? Call Parks Foundation president Ed Magner, 831-372-1944. (Ed is well known for his decades of volunteer service in Monterey County.)
Updating your will?
Consider what Patrice Vecchione decided after becoming acquainted witih this marvelous place: “I know that if, when I die, I’ve got any money, I want it donated toward protecting this park and increasing its acreage.”
[11/17/11 update: Patrice won’t wait until she dies though, if contributions are necessary to preserve Jacks Peak Park! At today’s Parks Commission meeting, she offered to write a check immediately for $1,000, and to solicit $3,000 more from the nearly 40 members of the public in attendance, if making up a $4,000 annual revenue shortfall would keep a zipline out of the park.]
Commercial zipline through the forest?
While many of us savor sauntering through the pines of Jacks Peak, others want that speedier trip: a commercial zipline operated by Ziptrek Ecotours of Whistler, Canada, a company that operates a zipline in downtown San Francisco.
- For background, click here for Kera Abraham’s 9/15/11 story in the Monterey County Weekly; and see 12/1/09 Monterey County document prepared by David Lutes, Park Planning Manager and approved by John Pinio, Director of Parks, seeking Board of Supervisors approval to enter negotiations with Ziptrek Ecotours.
- Click here, then scroll down to “Zip it” for my letter in the 9/29/11 Weekly.
- Click here for 11/6/11 story by Larry Parsons in the Monterey County Herald, and click here for the follow-up 11/10/11 story, after the County released its statement. [Update: Also see Herald’s 11/18/11 story by Parsons, “Zipline project faces heavy opposition.”]
- Click here for the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club’s position. (As mentioned above, the Ventana-Sierra Club, the Monterey Pine Forest Watch, and the Monterey Peninsula Audobon Society all request a full Environmental Impact Report about the proposed zipline at Jacks Peak.)
You may also want to click here for a KSBW 10/17/11 story featuring Pacific Meadows Senior Community residents who also oppose a zipline at Jacks Peak. Kera Abraham noted in the Monterey County Weekly’s 11/23 update that Pacific Meadows residents and other members of the public at the 11/17/11 Park Commissioners meeting were unanimous in their opposition to installing a zipline at Jacks Peak.
What are some additional concerns…
in the minds of those questioning the wisdom of a zipline at Jacks Peak?
- Whether it is wise to set a precedent for commercialization of Jacks Peak Park
- Whether concession fees would be devoted to the park
- What it means to establish an experience of the park that is available only to a small percentage of the population (the 2-3 hour tour would cost about $100)
- In the construction phase of a zipline, the normal technique of using existing trees is not feasible with Monterey Pines; freestanding towers would need to be built
- What will be left behind to deal with–and what will have been lost–after the charm wears off
Help preserve Jacks Peak for future generations
[Update: Please be in touch with Friends of Jacks Peak Park for what to do next.]
Friends of Jacks Peak Park was founded November 2011.
Friends of Jacks Peak Park contact info:
- Website: http://friendsofjackspeakpark.com/
- Phone: 831-224-0478
- Postal mail: 395 Del Monte Center Box 222, Monterey, CA 93940
- Email: friendsofjackspeakpark [at] gmail [dot] com
The five steps below were first provided by Sustainable Seaside, shared on their Facebook page 10/27/11.
District/ County Supervisors / Monterey County Parks Commissioners
1 /Fernando Armenta/ Brian Contreras
2 /Louis Calcagno/ Ken Husby
3/ Simon Salinas / Ed Fischer
4 /Jane Parker / Roger Soell
5/ Dave Potter / Joe Hertlein [Commissioner Hertlein has commented below.]
(3) If possible, follow-up by making an appointment and speaking with each of the commissioners personally about your concerns and learn where each of them stand on this issue.
(4) [Updated 11/17/11] The 11/17/11 quarterly meeting of the Board of Commissioners heard public comment on the proposed zipline. As reported in the Monterey County Herald’s 11/18 story by Larry Parsons, “Zipline project faces heavy opposition, “public comments reflected unanimous opposition, for a variety of reasons. For a copy of the minutes, and to express your own opinion, contact the County Parks Department by email email@example.com or by phone, Lynnette Beardsall at 755-4907 or David Lutes at 755-4911.
You are also encouraged to:
- Communicate your opinions to Head of Monterey County Parks, John Pinio, 831-755-4895.
- Make a donation to the Parks Foundation (see info above).
If you’d like a zipline in Monterey County…
Please consider commenting below with your suggestions for suitable locations other than Jacks Peak Park. Thank you.
What will their children and grandchildren find at Jacks Peak Park?
Jacks Peak Park, a special place apart
For other coverage regarding the proposed zipline at Jacks Peak
Please keep in touch with:
You are still welcome to contact me with questions. While protecting the unique nature of Jacks Peak Park fits Bicycling Monterey’s purpose “to encourage cycling, as well as other Earth friendly actions,” my volunteer hours are filled up with working on bicycling projects and resources! Thank you to Patrice for serving as an initial “go to” site/community news source regarding the proposed zipline at Jacks Peak, and thanks to the many others who formed “Friends of Jacks Peak Park.”