As Californians we’ve inherited some of the most beautiful open space anyone could ever hope for. Just open your door and Mt. Shasta, Big Sur, the Marin Headlands, Old-Growth Redwoods, Death Valley, the Great Yosemite Valley, and the entire John Muir Trail are yours to explore. This inheritance was secured by people that wanted to protect public land for the next generation. I hope to give the next generation more than was given to me.

When I am an old man, and my sons are grown, I want to take a long walk along the San Joaquin from Highway 99 to Friant Dam with my grandchildren. I want to see a mother pushing her baby under the shade of riparian trees on a hot summer day. I want to see people walking from their neighborhoods to walk their dogs on the Lewis S. Eaton Trail. I want to see a bobcat scurrying off the trail as an equestrian slowly approaches. I want to see families picnicking, fishermen fishing, scouts scouting, birders birding, cyclists cycling, kayakers kayaking, golfers golfing, painters painting, and the occasional visitor remarking on what a beautiful river Fresno and Madera Counties enjoy.

My hope for the San Joaquin River Parkway is hardly a new idea. Around the world, wherever civilization and rivers meet, there is a story about the people and their river.

I am fascinated by stories about the confluence of people and rivers. They describe the creation of gardens and parks, and people coming together in a shared backyard that offers far more than anyone seeks. As the gardens and parks grow, the true value of the river is recognized and what was once “the river” becomes “our river.” I joined the River Parkway Trust’s board because I want to see the San Joaquin River become “our river.”

Today, we are in a magnificent position to see the greater vision for the 22-mile Parkway come to be. This is thanks to the generosity of people like you, devoted volunteers, and the hard work and dedication of every person involved with the effort. The San Joaquin River Parkway is not only within grasp, it is happening every day. Right now, thousands of newly planted native trees are growing along the river’s banks. Nearly 10 miles of trails and 1,338 acres of open space are available to the public throughout the Parkway.

Even more exciting, 3,369 acres of natural beauty sit in trust today, just waiting for the necessary support to make the land a publicly available resource. I want to do everything I can possibly do to accelerate the opening of that land to the public.

As an heir to California’s public land, as a runner, a hiker, a fisherman, a hunter, a backpacker, a mountaineer, a father, and a person that loves to look upon nature’s wonderlands, I want to leave more accessible public land for the next generation than I received as my California birthright. My wife and I are committed to supporting the River Parkway Trust to make sure future generations can take a long walk along the banks of the San Joaquin River.

For all that those before us have given to Fresno, Madera, my family, and me - please accept my “thank you” and know that I am one of many that are hard at work to see the San Joaquin River Parkway vision fully realized.


Ryan S. Commons
Board Member
San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust