ACCPF Champion - Barry Christian
Barry Christian has been a dedicated volunteer in the open space and conservation community for over fifteen years. Everyone who knows him has a story to tell about a project he planned, a meeting in which he spoke, or a visit on a trail where he was volunteering. During this time, Barry has given generously for multiple organizations including ACCPF, City of American Canyon, Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition, San Francisco Bay Trail, Friends of the Napa River and more. If you have hiked a trail in Napa County, chances are Barry has been involved in it.
“Barry has been a consistent and dedicated volunteer since American Canyon Community & Parks Foundation (ACCPF) was founded in 2015,” notes Executive Director Janelle Sellick.
“Barry’s contributions to our mission have been felt through all types of programs,” Sellick continues. “He has led hikes, planned activities, attended meetings, led educational events, shared strategic planning advice, and more,” she adds.
In 2020, despite restrictions related to Covid19, Barry co-planned and led a volunteer trail improvement project which resulted in hundreds of new oak seedlings being planted along a popular path in Newell Open Space in American Canyon. Nearly 50 people attended the planting, and the group was able to get the job done in less than three hours. After Covid19 made it impossible to have in person events, Barry led a virtual Wildflower Hike at Wetlands Edge to ensure that everyone could experience the outdoors safely during the shelter at home orders. In June Barry also assisted ACCPF and the City of American Canyon on a virtual 10th Anniversary Celebration of Wetlands Trails. He never hesitates to show up (virtually this past year) and speak up in support of conservation, trails, or outdoor projects.
One of the most popular and creative ways that Barry helps people get outdoors is through the use of his Pedi cab. He has brought his Pedi cab to Wetlands Edge hikes to allow seniors and people with mobility issues to participate. With a comfortable seat for two and a beautiful vantage point, Barry and his Pedi cab have helped a dozen seniors to participate in Wetlands outings when they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. Barry’s contributions to the community can be felt through his involvement in multiple organizations. In short, he wears many hats, and any organization that has him as part of their volunteer team is incredibly lucky.
Barry moved to American Canyon from Daly City in 1988 four years before it became an incorporated city. “It seemed like a nice place to live,” says Barry. During the time he’s lived here, “we’ve lost a ton of open space,” he adds. Maureen Gaffney of the San Francisco Bay Trail shares the following about Barry. “For over a decade-and-a-half he has consistently promoted the San Francisco Bay Trail whether by attending City Council, Board of Supervisor, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Fish and Wildlife, or Napa Sanitation District Board meetings, or by leading rides for the public, or by cleaning up our shoreline by hauling tires out of the muck.
“And speaking of muck,” Gaffney adds, “Barry has never once hesitated to enter the fray when a fray needed entering into. Barry's capacity for volunteerism appears limitless. He can always be counted on to have a bevy of facts at the ready in service of the cause and is someone who has well and truly moved the needle for parks and trails in Napa County and beyond.” The pandemic events of 2020 never slowed Barry down. Over the past year he has spent several days each week watering oak seedlings and caring for trails at Newell Open Space in American Canyon. This work often involves the physical effort of pushing a wheelbarrow up and down dirt trails to deliver water.
Barry, who grew up in Marin County, points out that there is more room for the purchase of land behind Newhall. “When I was a kid, I saw Mt. Tamalpais, Stinson Beach and China Beach as examples of how we can preserve the beauty of nature so that future generations can also use and enjoy the outdoors. Fortunately, we have a great community and businesses are willing to support it. I’m grateful to be a part of it.
“We’re fortunate that the Newell family and the Napa County Regional Park both donated land in American Canyon to create an Open Space District in 2006,”Barry adds. As a result, “we got these beautiful trails, but we still have a need to create more open space,” Barry cautions, pointing out that the Green Island Road industrial development and the long-awaited housing development next to the Newell Preserve will further reduce land that can be used for recreational purposes. “We’re asking for money from the Napa County Board of Supervisors to purchase more open space, but because of the pandemic, the amount of money available to buy land has been reduced,” he notes.
According to Shelan Zuhdi, Open Space Coordinator from the City of American Canyon, “Barry Christian has tirelessly served as a dedicated volunteer and environmental steward for the community that he deeply values. His initiative, drive, and leadership has spearheaded the efforts in developing the community-based volunteer program for the City of American Canyon for several years. He has consistently defined what it means to lend a hand in collective efforts through leading volunteer conservation projects and advocating for community resources. “From serving on the Open Space Advisory Committee to reforesting the Newell Open Space after experiencing the 2019 fire, Barry has generously invested his time and effort to improving American Canyon. To say that this community has benefitted from extraordinary volunteers like Barry Christian, is simply an understatement,” Zuhdi concludes.
Barry has also been a volunteer with the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition Board since the Coalition was established. Philip Sales, Executive Director of the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition notes that “Barry has participated in tree planting, maintenance and other activities. He has terrific energy and enthusiasm for trails. We appreciate his work and dedication.” “The list of ways that Barry has contributed to the community is seemingly endless,” Sellick adds. “He continues watering trees Donaldson Way Elementary School students have planted during multiple Earth Day activities. That original planting project stemmed from a decision by Middle School students to clean up their creek.
Barry has also worked with American Canyon High School Students for citizen science projects at Newell Open Space Preserve, has served as a volunteer Board Member for the Friends of the Napa River, serves on a variety of elected or appointed positions throughout the County, and the list goes on. “Barry is an asset to American Canyon, Napa County and beyond,” Sellick adds. “And most impressively, he does it all with an affable, unassuming, and lighthearted touch that makes him a pleasure to be around. We are all so lucky to know Barry Christian,” she concludes.