An Evergreen Trail


by Maureen Gaffney

Sustainability. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. The Oxford dictionary defines it thusly: the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. 

As further explanation it offers: Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Lots of companies engage in laughable greenwashing about their “sustainability,” from Shell Oil conducting a Twitter poll on emissions reduction to SC Johnson’s claims that Windex bottles were made from “100% ocean-bound plastic” (what does that even mean??). To be fair, many brands and businesses are earnest on this front, doing the hard work to change processes and policies that really are making a difference. 

In our work to help plan, fund, design and build a 47-mile trail from Vallejo to Calistoga, sustainability really is the name of the game. With the transportation sector providing an outsized share of greenhouse gas emissions, every car, truck, Uber, Lyft, taxi, motorcycle, moped (you get the idea) trip that is replaced by a walk, roll, run or scoot on the Napa Valley Vine Trail is embracing the very essence of sustainability. Plus it’s fun. And you get to be smug and annoying to your friends, family and coworkers every time you take the trail instead of the Toyota. What’s more fun than that?

While we’re tooting our own horn regarding sustainability, here’s a really un-sexy but incredibly important piece of that equation. Maintenance. While pulling together the multiple millions of dollars needed to plan, design, permit and construct a brand new 47-mile trail is certainly daunting, maintenance funding is even harder to come by. Taking care of what you’ve got is just not as exciting as the initial getting of the thing—it’s more fun to buy the Toyota than change the oil. 

But the Vine Trail Coalition was aware of this conundrum when it formed nearly a decade ago. Understanding that keeping an important community asset in tip-top shape is as important and constructing a beloved community asset, the Vine Trail committed to raising funds specifically for a maintenance program to support the needs of the trail from end to end. Now that’s Sustainable!