Why We Need The VINE TRAIL



If you are a faithful reader of this VINE TRAIL newsletter, and I know that you are, you’ll have noticed that we have rotating themes (and if you didn’t, we have rotating themes). The theme for this month is “Health”. I’ve regaled you in these pages before regarding the physical health benefits of the Napa Valley VINE TRAIL. That’s a column that writes itself; cardio-fitness, muscle tone, fresh air, circulation. The mental health benefits of the aforementioned physical activity that one can partake of for free on the VINE TRAIL are also well known and documented, by me and others. 

All true, all well and good. But today’s column is about Financial Health. The financial health of the Napa Valley VINE TRAIL, and the funding required to plan, design, build, maintain and support the existing and planned 47-miles of trail through two counties, five cities, one town, and 10 AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) from the Vallejo Ferry to the Silverado Trail in Calistoga.

The work of the Napa Valley VINE TRAIL staff—currently three ¾ time extremely talented and dedicated people—and a very committed Board of 28 individuals, are constantly and consistently advocating for the completion of the missing pieces of trail. And in addition to writing letters, coordinating with, and cajoling city/county staff and elected officials, attending City Council and Board of Supervisors meetings, sometimes until the wee hours, VINE TRAIL staff spend a lot of time shamelessly passing the hat in one form or another.

From grant writing to direct appeals, from fundraising events to networking, from leaning on decision and policy makers to budget funds, work to complete a 47-mile separated pathway can of course be rewarding, but it can also be incredibly daunting. Current estimates to complete the remaining 27 miles of VINE TRAIL are between $26.3 and 28.00 million. People are often surprised at these numbers (and sometimes so are we…). To explain, some trail miles are relatively simple. A former public right of way, a willing partner, an abandoned railroad corridor. Some not so much. Contaminated soils, private property, restricted/unavailable right-of-way, and…lawyers (need I say more?).

All of these complicated issues are what requires dedicated, professional staff and plucky, savvy board members. The VINE TRAIL is 42% complete and the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Next year beginning on July 1, we are budgeting $724,000 in contributions and donations from various sources including business partnerships and tourism. However, $50,000 has to come from individual donations and memberships.  Lest this column become a craven plea for that most base of contributions—the almighty dollar—hopefully by now you know that the most base of requests is a vital part of the health of the organization that is the Napa Valley VINE TRAIL, and that this kind of health is fundamentally key to the completion of the trail. With individual membership a mere $47/year (or $147/year, if you join our Century Club) isn’t it the least you can do for a world-class trail in your backyard?