Initiatives Supported by EcoRing

SMART Project

EcoRing has served on the Board of Friends of SMART, the citizens group that placed the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) project on the ballet, lobbied for its ultimate passage and has continued to defend the project against ill-informed opponents. The SMART train is scheduled, to begin service on its Initial Operation Segment the Spring ofi 2017. It is on sound financial footing in spite of the deepest recession in recent years.

Some have worried that there will be insufficient ridership. There is good reason to expect the opposite.
In June of 2014 in St Paul, Minnesota, Metro Transit opened its new Green Line, a light rail linking downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. In September 1,063,512 passengers road the Green LIne boosting the year-to-date total to 3,477,945.  That’s an average weekday ridership of 37,178, 35% higher than the ridership projection for 2015!

EcoRing's Executive Director at the introduction on the new SMART train sets

You can help support EcoRing's continued involvement in the SMART project by donating here.
The North Pacific Coast Railroad Heritage Trail

Since 2008 EcoRing has been encouraging Marin and Sonoma County officials to convert the historic right-of-way of the narrow-gage North Pacific Coast Railroad (built in 1871) to a multi-use trail where possible.  The NPCRR Heritage Trail would stretch 94 miles from the Sausalito Ferry Building in Marin to Cazadero north of the Russian River in Sonoma County.

This Heritage Trail would make possible multi-day bicycle and walking trips through farmland and forestland, beside creeks, rivers, bays and estuaries connecting urban centers to rural villages. 

It would link the urban towns of Sausalito, Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo and Fairfax with the rural villages of Woodacre, San Geronimo, Point Reyes Station, Tomales, Valley Ford, Freestone, Occidental, Monte Rio, Duncans Mills and Cazadero.  A portion would help complete the California Coastal trail.  Because it terminates at the Sausalito Ferry to San Francisco it would attract bicycle tourist from not just the San Francisco and the South Bay but also from the entire world.  And what better way to bring tourist to beautiful land- a sea-scapes than without their automobiles?

Much of the right-of-way is already trail in Marin County including stretches from Sausalito to Larkspur, Corte Madera to San Anselmo and the length of the Samuel P. Taylor State Redwood Park.  Some of the right-of-way has been converted to rural roads and highways but most is either in State Park ownership (notably along scenic Tomales Bay) or in private ownership.

The North Pacific Coast Railroad (later the North Shore and still later the Northwestern Pacific) not only played an important role in developing Sonoma and Marin’s forest industry, agricultural industry and tourist industry, it also contributed to development of manufacturing methods and engineering progress in the entire State.  Its historical importance cannot be overstated.   Indeed one of California’s Governors, Milton Latham, served as President of the railroad and the railroad played an important role in both the Grange movement and the Progressive Era.

The County of Sonoma has now included a multi-use trail from Valley Ford to Monte Rio on the Russian River in its General Plan.  Although the precise route has not yet been explicitly designated EcoRing is encouraging the County to designate the NPC railgrade as the preferred route wherever it does not violate property rights.  Further work awaits funding.

Marin County is now investigating the potential and feasibility for opening the Alto Tunnel between Mill Valley and Corte Madera.  This would connect two long segments of the Heritage Trail.  Find out more about this geotechnical study here.

EcoRing has formed an Heritage Trail Task Force and is working closely with CoastWalk to make this trail a reality.  If you would like to join this Task force, contact our Director, Rick Coates, at  You can support this initiative by donating here.

Coastal Prairie Trail (A portion of the California Coastal Trail)

Due to funding constraints as a result of permitting requirements and conditions, the project will be built in two phases. In fall 2014, Phase 1C was constructed and connects the Bodega Bay Community Center to the Bodega Dunes Campground entrance road. Bids were opened on August 7, 2014 and the construction contract was awarded to Siri Grading & Paving, Inc. Construction began on September 3, 2014 and was completed on November 21, 2014.

This .5 mile trail segment includes two boardwalks, an 8-foot-wide trail of stabilized aggregate with a 3-foot shoulder on one side and a 1-foot shoulder on the other side, signs, and other amenities. The new trail was officially dedicated on December 4, 2014.

We are currently seeking funding to construct Phase 1B in 2015-2016.

North Harbor Coastal and Harbor Coastal Trails

The geotechnical report, wildlife, botanical, and wetland surveys were completed in 2013. Supplemental surveys may be required by regulatory agencies. The next step is to secure funding to start the preliminary design and engineering work which will provide information needed to complete the environmental study.

Russian River Trail

EcoRing has long advocated for a multi-use trail roughly following the Russian River from Cloverdale in Northern Sonoma County to Jenner by the Sea on the Sonoma Coast. The Planned SMART trail from Healdsburg to Cloverdale would service part of the route.  Several years ago a Riverfront Trail from Healdsburg to Jenner by the Sea was included in the County General Plan.  Funding was still lacking and the exact route was never specified.  Now Sonoma County Parks is seeking a $350,00 Sustainable Communities Grant from the State to do a feasibility study specifically on the segment from Korbel Winery to Duncans Mills.  The study would define feasible routes and estimate costs..  There is one catch.  The grant will require local $47,000 in matching funds.  The Supervisors have allotted $10,000 of the Transit Occupancy Tax (the tax tourists pay) toward the matching funds.  It is unclear where the remaining funds will come from.

Santa Rosa to Sonoma Trail

Ecoring has been advocating for a Sonoma to Santa Rosa multi-use trail for several years as part of the infrastructure needed to interconnecting Sonoma County's tourist destinations with low-carbon transportation opportunities.

Now, according to the September 25, 2013 Press Democrat, CalTrans has awarded a $190,575 grant to the Sonoma County Regional Parks to study the feasibility of a 13-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that would connect Sonoma and Santa Rosa from Agua Caliente Road to Melita Road.  Such a trail could link Sonoma to Sonoma Valley Regional Park, Jack London State Park, Annadel State Park, the Bouverie Wildflower Preserve,  Spring Lake County Park and Santa Rosa's Howarth Park.  The end point at Melita Road connects to the Spring Lake bicycle trail network which would connect in turn to the Southeast Greenway Project in Santa Rosa.  The historic right-of-way for the Southern Pacific Railway generally follows this route and would make an excellent bicycle trail.  The feasibility study is the first step in making the trail a reality.  To support our advocacy on this trail donate here.

Apple Blossom Multi-use Trail

EcoRing Supports the proposal made by the Sebastopol Trail Makers for the creation of the Apple Blossom Trail from the Joe Rodota Trail near downtown Sebastopol to  Appleblossom School on Watertrough Road.  To find out more about this proposal including maps of the proposed route visit

Gravenstein Multi-use Trail

The Sebastopol Trail Makers have proposed a new multi-use train from the Joe Rodota Trail to the southern boundary of Sebastopol at Lynch Road.  You can find out more about this proposal at

Green Lane Bike Project

The question isn’t whether your city can afford to build high-quality bike infrastructure anymore, say our friends at the Green Lane Project. It’s whether your city can afford not to.

The Green Lane Project has been working with the Alliance for Biking and Walking on a study examining the different ways protected bike lanes help local businesses. Blogger Michael Andersen classifies the economic benefits into four basic categories:

Protected bike lanes increase retail visibility and volume. It turns out that when people use bikes for errands, they’re the perfect kind of retail customer: the kind that comes back again and again. They spend as much per month as people who arrive in cars, require far less parking while they shop and are easier to lure off the street for an impulse visit.

Protected bike lanes make workers healthier and more productive. From Philadelphia to Chicago to Portland, the story is the same: people go out of their way to use protected bike lanes. By drawing clear, safe barriers between auto and bike traffic, protected bike lanes get more people in the saddle undefined burning calories, clearing the mental cobwebs, and strengthening hearts, hips and lungs.

Protected bike lanes make real estate more desirable. By calming traffic and creating an alternative to auto travel lanes, protected bike lanes help build the sort of neighborhoods that everyone enjoys walking around in. By extending the geographic range of non-car travel, bike lanes help urban neighborhoods develop without waiting years for new transit service to show up.

Protected bike lanes help companies score talented workers. Workers of all ages, but especially young ones, increasingly prefer downtown jobs and nearby homes, the sort of lifestyles that make city life feel like city life. Because protected bike lanes make biking more comfortable and popular, they help companies locate downtown without breaking the bank on auto parking space, and allow workers to reach their desk the way they increasingly prefer: under their own power.

Bicycle facilities to connect Marin and Sonoma Counties

Beginning in Fall 2012, Marin and Sonoma counties will see the first of several phases of construction of bicycle/pedestrian facilities that will connect Marin and Sonoma Counties along the Highway 101 corridor between Novato and Petaluma. Improvements are part of a Highway 101 widening project which extends 17 miles between State Route 37 in Novato and Old Redwood Highway in Petaluma. The bicycle/pedestrian portion of the projects is approximately 13 miles long; it begins just south of Olompali State Park near Novato and ends near the Petaluma River. This Highway 101 segment, known as the Marin-Sonoma Narrows, is so-named because Highway 101 bottle-necks down to two lanes (in each direction) throughout the corridor.

Facilities to be constructed will include a series of separated multi-use pathways, bike lanes and bike routes on mostly discontinuous, traffic-calmed frontage roads. This improved route will be the only north/south route in East Marin and will link to SMART multiuse bicycle facilities to the North in Petaluma and to the South in Novato (the SMART corridor adjacent to the Marin Sonoma Narrows contains vast wetlands and therefore was never part of the SMART project).

These improvements will provide significant safety benefits for cyclists using this corridor- currently, cyclist are forced to use the Highway 101 shoulder to travel between the Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Beginning in the Fall of 2012 (or possibly as late as Spring of 2013), with the widening of the overcrossing at Redwood Landfill, cyclist will not be able to use the Highway 101 shoulder for a period of up to one year due to construction activities. MCBC, the Transportation Authority of Marin and our Sonoma County counterparts will be providing regular information about schedule and alternatives before and throughout this construction period to support cyclist using this corridor.

EcoRing P.O. Box 2002, Guerneville, CA 95446 (707) 632-6070 / (707) 865-2575  email us   EcoRing 2014 ©

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