We're Trees & Trails, a citizen-run advocacy group focused on development and maintenance of sustainable transportation in Santa Barbara.
Our ongoing mission is to support the county and shareholders in completing Alignment B+ of the Modoc Multi-Use Path.
How We got started
When the long-awaited Modoc Path began meeting pushback mid-2022, the need for a demonstration of community support for the project became apparent. In order to help it come to fruition, Autumn Brook, our fearless leader (and decidedly lovely human being), got the ball rolling by getting involved at the local level. As others learned of the project and of Autumn's involvement in it, they began joining in the work, and soon a group of passionate, sustainable-minded advocates formed (see member bios below!). As of now, Trees & Trails is comprised of a number of dedicated and convivial members resolutely striving to help bring this awesome project through to the finish line.
If you want to join in on one of our weekly Zoom meetings, send us an email at ModocTreesAndTrails@gmail.com! We thank you for your interest and support.
Where the name "Trees & Trails" came from
We chose the name Trees & Trails to reflect that we support both trees and trails. We strongly believe that trails such as multi-use paths, and trees/natural spaces (such as the Modoc Open Space) can not only coexist in harmony, but even mutually benefit from each other's combined presence. Just as California State Representative Gregg Hart put it when expressing support for Alignment B of the Modoc Path, even Yosemite National Park — “the crown jewel of the national park system” — has 23 paved or semi-paved trails.
Because both trees and trails are foundational aspects of a sustainable community, our aim is to support their continued investment and uptake throughout Santa Barbara -- throughout our home.
We were grateful to collect the signatures of a diverse coalition of non-profit organizations on our letter to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on October 28, 2022 in which we urged approval of the revised Mitigated Negative Declaration and completion of Alignment B of the Modoc Multi-Use Path. Click here to read the letter.
We introduce some of our members below to demonstrate the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience the Trees & Trails team has the privilege of working with.
Autumn Brook - "Head Honcho"
Autumn is Trees & Trails' central coordinator and fearless leader. She has been a licensed landscape contractor and designer for 45 years, with sustainable land management, native plant, grading and drainage expertise. She helped to save the open space from commercial development in the mid 90's and then worked as a consultant to the La Cumbre Mutual Water Company in establishing the easement area in the late 90’s. She also volunteered on the Modoc Committee for many years. Autumn has lived along the Obern Trail for over 30 years and is a La Cumbre Mutual Water Company shareholder. In her free time, Autumn can be found herding chickens.
Jim Kemp - "Chief Bureaucrat"
Former Transportation Planner and 14-year Executive Director of Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG). A master of all things policy and planning, Jim has a bias for getting things done and was responsible for delivering $100’s of millions worth of multi-modal transportation projects in Santa Barbara County while partnering with local, state and federal agencies and private firms. His address book is extensive; he's surely got your phone number and isn't afraid to call it. Jim and his wife KC also live in the Hope Ranch Annex and are frequent users of the Modoc Open Space on foot, bike, and horse.
Bob Hamber - "The Engineer"
Retired system engineer and sucker for a good file naming convention. Bob grew up right next to the Modoc Preserve on Encore Dr, is the ex-president of the San Marcos HS Conservation Club, co-leads a small cycling group appropriately named "EZ Riders," and also rides mountain bikes in his free time. He's the backbone team member who says things like "gantt chart" and "feedback frame" and can occasionally be found lying on the ground to get precise measurements of land gradation.
Melissa Cunningham - "Google Drive Mastermind"
Director of Strategic Initiatives at MOVE Santa Barbara County
Melissa has been involved in numerous non-profits both as staff and board for most of her life. She is passionate about active transportation, accessibility and safety for all, and the impact that choosing to walk, bike, or take transit has on the environment. Melissa joined COAST in 2019 as Executive Director and became Director of Strategic Initiatives at SBBIKE+COAST, now MOVE Santa Barbara County, upon merging in July 2021. She is the organizational glue that holds Trees & Trails together, ensuring that deadlines are met and meetings are held on time. She also has an adorable dog who occasionally blesses our Zoom screens with his presence.
Kira Pusch - "Tech Support"
A grad student in engineering, part-time bicycle mechanic, and avid hiker. Kira bikes the Obern Trail to work nearly every day and cares deeply about walkable city design, sustainable transportation, equitable human-scale urban spaces, and generally “anything that will help make America be less of a car-infested hellscape and more of an actual livable place.” Kira plays a key role in our community outreach efforts, having written some great news pieces and generated several flyers, stickers, this website, and even our logo.
Terri Jo Ortega - "The Passionate Equestrian"
Board member of Hope Ranch Riding & Trails Association, La Cumbre Mutual Water Company shareholder, and frequent user of the Modoc Preserve. TJ and her husband have lived in the Hope Ranch Annex for 40 years. Through her involvement in the local horse community, TJ brings a crucial equestrian perspective to the group.
Alex Pujo - "The Architect"
Alex has 30 years of experience as an architect in California working on single and multi-family residential projects, mixed-use developments and commercial tenant improvements. Alex specializes in traditional architecture exemplified by development in the Santa Barbara region, with emphasis on context, sensitivity to historic preservation, and the environment. He is currently a member of the County of Santa Barbara Board of Architectural Review (SBAR) overseeing projects in the unincorporated areas of the South Coast. He previously served on the City of Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review (ABR) and Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC).
Art Ludwig - "THE Water Guy"
Art Ludwig is a designer with 43 years integration and optimization experience. He made transport bikes for people without cars for 10 years; authored books, including the SB County handbook on Integrated Water and Home Resource Management; designs state-of-the-art stormwater infiltration; and was the City of Santa Barbara’s lobbyist in Sacramento to reconcile stakeholder input and write the greywater section of the California Plumbing Code. This man knows more about water management than any of us ever will. Art grew up by Modoc and rode it as a student to Adams, La Cumbre, and San Marcos, then with his own kids in baby seats, through to college. He bought his first house in SB with savings from living car-free. Art lived for several years in communities in Europe with strong support for healthy active transportation.