Miriam Gholikely Public Service Award:Bruce Beyaert and Friends
Under the leadership of TRAC Chair Bruce Beyaert (center, holding sign), the organization has added 20 miles to the Bay Trail along the Richmond Shoreline, creating the single-longest segment in the regional path. Shown with Beyaert are TRAC board members (top row, left to right) Kim Hampton and Andrew Butt; and (front row, left to right) TRAC Vice Chair Bruce Brubaker, Interpretive Subcommittee Chair Donald Bastin, and board members Jerry Rasmussen, Whitney Dotson and Nancy Strauch.
After retiring from a career in environmental planning for Chevron, Beyaert used his expertise to engineer a major expansion of the Bay Trail. (Photo: Noah Berger)
October 22, 2014
Richmond’s Bay Trail is blessed with expansive Bay views, shoreline parks that connect with each other, and interpretive panels with tales about Richmond’s history and its tidal wetlands, wildlife and offshore islands. It wasn’t always this way, but thanks to the Trails for Richmond Action Committee (TRAC), founded and chaired by Bruce Beyaert, trail users can walk their dogs and hike and bike along miles of shoreline with killer views never before accessible.
When he retired from Chevron in the 1990s, Beyaert knew he wanted to devote his time to a worthwhile project. He was Chevron’s manager of Environmental Planning worldwide, giving him the expertise to work with government agencies and other stakeholders. He founded TRAC in 1999, when Richmond had only about 12 miles of shoreline trail. It’s taken 15 years and tenacious behind-the-scenes work to develop the additional 20 miles of trails that TRAC has completed so far.
“The key is partnerships and cooperation,” Beyaert said. “We’ve worked with developers, the city of Richmond, private owners and many others. We became little worker bees, preparing grant applications to get the funding.”
MTC is honoring Beyaert and TRAC with the Miriam Gholikely Award (named after a longtime MTC adviser and community activist) for their work with numerous stakeholders in expanding the longest single segment of the Bay Trail.
Not only has the transformed waterfront filled a crucial gap in the Bay Trail system, which ultimately will ring all 500 miles of shoreline, but also it has gone a long way toward improving Richmond’s image. One of the recently opened Richmond Bay Trail connectors is a three-mile path built around the West County Landfill, or “Garbage Mountain.” Called the Landfill Loop, the trail boasts fantastic views of San Pablo Bay.
“Bruce believes in thinking regionally and acting locally, and his record of action bears out his philosophy,” said Laura Thompson, Bay Trail project manager for the Association of Bay Area Governments. Beyaert has been on the Bay Trail Board of Directors since March 2001.
While much has been ac-complished, a 10-mile stretch of the Richmond shoreline has yet to be included in the Bay Trail. Access to the land — most of which is privately owned — is TRAC’s biggest challenge. Each segment of the trail also requires planning studies, CEQA compliance and design, as well as funding. Beyaert and his team of volunteers are steadfast in their determination to see the trail through to completion.
“I’m a hiker and I love San Francisco Bay,” Beyaert said. “The Bay Trail just sings to me.”
— Georgia Lambert