Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News
Monday, Jan. 26, 2009 | 4:06 p.m.
It's a surprisingly warm and clear Saturday morning, and in the heart of Green Valley, a group of residents is determined not to let it go to waste.
For more than four years, the group — known as Project Green — has been working to reclaim and restore the Pittman Wash in an effort to create a rugged paradise in the midst of suburbia. On Saturday, they led neighbors on a tour of their project to encourage more use of it and maybe increase the number of volunteers helping to keep it maintained.
Catherine Demers, a four-year resident of Green Valley, said she has jogged the trails that volunteers have made in the wash many times, and when she saw signs for the volunteer-led tour, she thought it sounded like the ideal opportunity to get involved.
"I like the fact that they're focusing on bringing people in the community together and the fact that they took something that was so neglected and turned it into something so beautiful," Demers said.
Since Project Green formed in 2004, it has built a system of trails in the wash from Valle Verde Drive to Pecos Legacy Park, and another phase that will extend the trail east to the Arroyo Grande Sports Complex is expected to begin by the end of the year.
Volunteers have removed invasive plant species and worked to restore the wash to its original state while adding a carefully marked trail that encourages enjoyment of the wash while limiting interference with native plant and animal life.
"A lot of times it's difficult for people to appreciate the desert," Project Green member Kristine Lowe-Martin said. "They move here from California or other places that are green, and they think that this is just the ugliest place. … But there really is so much to appreciate here."
Project Green member Laura Yavitz said the group is nearly finished with the goals it created in 2004 and is working on developing a plan for the future. She said the idea for the tour began as a brainstorming idea for Project Green members, but that the volunteers recognized it would be an ideal way to involve neighbors.
"What we do is sit in the room together and make decisions, but we never go out in the wash together," Yavitz said.
Yavitz, who joined Project Green less than a year ago, said she stumbled across it while looking for a place to ride her bike. What fascinated her about Project Green was that there were so many interests represented — bikers, hikers, bird watchers and conservationists to name a few.
She said she was also impressed by the group's track record.
"What's impressive about this group is they get a lot done in a very short amount of time, and that's unusual for a community group like this," she said.
Jeremy Twitchell can be reached at 990-8928 or [email protected].