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~~ Meet the 2012 Backbone Trek Volunteers ~~

We'd like to acknowledge and thank our volunteers for their tireless efforts in making the Backbone Trek an enjoyable and memorable experience for all:

Ruth Gerson - President SMMTC Board of Directors
Ruth has been a board member since 1979 and President the last 14 years. A longtime Agoura resident, she has been riding her horses in the Santa Monica Mountains for over 40 years, enjoying the trails for pleasure and savoring the beauty, the wildlife and the serenity. She is involved in various equestrian organizations promoting public access to public lands for horseback riding, keeping the federal backcountry lands open for historic saddle and pack stock, helping to build the equestrian campground in Malibu Creek State Park, and ensuring that horses continue to be part of agriculture. As President, her focus has been to address the many issues that affect trails access, easements, connections, maintenance and safety. She feels that it is vital to develop trail camps along the Backbone Trail. She strives for the Trails Council to maintain a presence within the community to educate people about the irreplaceable resource in trails and to collaborate with the land agencies in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA).

Burt Elliott - Van Driver, Hike leader/Sweep
Retired as an Engineering Division Head on the Navy test range at Point Mugu. Developed the format and participated in all BBTreks so far. Worked with the cognizant NPS Ranger to develop the NPS Backbone Trail series and was leader for several years. Volunteers at the SAMO visitor center and on other projects usually involving the use of GPS. Coordinates the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council trail maintenance projects. Amateur botanist of plants in the Santa Monica Mountains. As a result of these interests, has become an expert on the Backbone Trail. Volunteer for the Conejo Open Space, surrounding Thousand Oaks, on a variety of trail and non-native plant eradication issues. Hobbies: trail running, mountain biking, camping and geocaching.

Jerry Mitcham - Backbone Trek Coordinator, Hike Leader/Sweep
Jerry has been a member of the SMMTC board of directors since 2005. He has resided in Thousand Oaks since 1998. Jerry retired from the U.S. Navy after twenty years of service in 1979. He was then employed as a systems engineer for Litton Data Systems and Northrop Grumman Corporation for twenty-four years, retiring in 2004. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, camping and an occasional bike ride. He especially enjoys geocaching. Jerry is very active in the SMMTC trail maintenance program, participating in most of the weekly volunteer projects. He is a two-time recipient of the SMMTC Hank Grateful award for noteworthy volunteer service. He organizes and participates in the multi-day trail maintenance projects SMMTC conducts on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park each year. Participated in the last four BBTreks.

Annie Salerno Coordinator, Food coordinator
Annie is a native of Southern California and was raised in the San Fernando Valley. Having watched the growth and building explosion of the area she is dedicated to the preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains as an ecological and recreational resource. She has been involved in the Backbone Trail Trek since its inception in 2000 and has served in various capacities for the trek since that time. She serves on board of the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and is active in the Sierra Club. Since retiring from the insurance industry, Annie has developed a passion for international travel.

Diana Savage - On-site Coordinator, Hike Sweep
Nine time BBTrek participant, hiked the 1200 mile California Coastal Trail in 2003, substitute teacher. Hobbies: walking and travelling. She dreams of being a geocacher.

Mel Savage - Wrangler
Nine time support staff for the BBTrek, retired LA County Deputy Sheriff, drove the support van for the 2003 California Coastal Hike. Hobby: travelling.

Dave Edwards - Hike Leader
Dave has resided in Oxnard since 1971. He retired from the federal government in 2001, having worked at the Navy base in Port Hueneme, CA. He is very active in the SMMTC trail maintenance program in the Santa Monica Mountains and on Santa Cruz Island for the National Park Service. Dave is a board member of Channel Islands Restoration, which restores habitat in sensitive and unique natural areas on the Channel Islands and adjacent mainland He enjoys backpacking in the Sierras and the local Sespe Wilderness.

Barry Dydyk - Van Driver
Retired Systems Engineer from Northrup Grumman. Active in the SMMTC trail maintenance program. Two years as hiker leader/sweep for the NPS Backbone Trail series. Active with the Boy Scouts of America as an Assistant Scoutmaster. Hobbies: Hiking, backpacking, camping and geocaching.

Ed Stauss - Backbone Trek Media Coordinator
A hiker who enjoys the mountains' scenic beauty and opportunities to watch birds and other wildlife, Ed Stauss prefers slow hiking rather than rapidly clicking off the miles. He uses his journalism background to assist the Trails Council with its twice-yearly newsletter and media coordination.

Dinner Volunteers
May 5: Annie Salerno, Lylene Sheets and Barb Thomas
May 6: Carolyn and Barry Dydyk
May 7: Annie Salerno and Mel Savage
May 8: Carlyn and Lloyd Taggart
May 9: Annie Salerno, Barb Thomas
May 10: Frank Padilla
May 11: Dale Skinner
May 12: (Farewell Light Lunch) , Barry Dydyk