Black Mouse Update 5-8-23

A new threat of permanent closure; a new plan for and a new idea for cleanup and maintenance

Starting with the positive, Black Mouse is open for play. BUT NOT DURING SCHOOL HOURS! More on that in a sec.

If you haven’t been up there since the winter storms, and as you might imagine, much new damage to the course has taken place.

Photo taken on 2-12-23. Several more storms have come through since then.

Those who hold Black Mouse disc golf course precious are faced with two basic and not insignificant challenges:

  1. Keep the course open.
  2. Maintain the course so that it can fulfill its maximum potential as a community resource and awesome disc golf venue.

Number 1 is simple, sort of. The rules themselves make complete sense given the course’s location. Even those in the disc golf community who would rather bend a few agree that the trade-off is more than worth it.

“The best we can do is spread the consistent message that breaking those rules will get the course closed down for good. So please, do that.”

The problem is that not everyone who decides on a whim to go play Black Mouse is part of the “disc golf community.” The social mores that help keep members of a community accountable to one another don’t apply if the offenders are not part of the community.

The best we can do is spread the consistent message that breaking those rules will get the course closed down for good, in hopes that any community members who are among the rule breakers (thinking they will go undetected and therefore no harm, no foul) change their ways pronto. So please, do that. Hopefully they will hear the message.

I bring this up because I received an email from the school district over the weekend.

Taken at their word, the district agrees with the value the course brings the community and wants it open. They have told me they won’t shut it down for a single rule violation. But after that, it gets kinda vague, and that concerns me.

Course Cleanup & Maintenance

The recent storms were of the once-in-a-century variety, and their impact on the course will require at least as much work to get things ship-shape as we recently did to reopen. The reality, though, is that the same qualities that make The Mouse so special also require steady upkeep and maintenance even in normal years.

To address the big stuff, Bodi Tunheim and I took a class that will hopefully enable us to get a work crew from Camp Ben Lomond in during the summer. This is a CalFire facility in Bonny Doon that houses low-risk inmates who choose to serve their time working outdoors. They will be able to bring in large saws and hauling equipment to clear downed trees.

As for the smaller stuff and ongoing maintenance, I have an idea and would like feedback.

One notable aspect of the overwhelming response to our petition that helped reopen the course was the existence of many different clusters of friends and family. In other words, many unrelated “subsets” of our local disc golf community. Let’s call them crews— people who play together on the same course on a regular basis. They might even have unofficial names, like the Sunday Funday crew or the Bucket Brigade.

I think we easily have enough of these “crews” for each hole to be adopted by one. Maybe Victor, Steve, and Karen take one hole, Rob, Faith, Ron, and Marshall take another (although Marshall may insist on three), and so on.

So what do you think?

Black Mouse Update: 6/08/21

Black Mouse Disc Golf Course remains closed, but the jury (in this case the SLV Unified School District) is still out as to its ultimate fate. In my latest exchange with the soon-to-be-retired Superintendent, she states that the septic/leachfield renovation that involves part of the course will continue until at least the end of the year, and the board does not plan to address the status of the course until after that time.

My response was to respectfully suggest that we could be using the time that class is not in session (the summer, now) to work on a mutually agreeable reopening plan. I also hinted that we may start to present our petition for reopening through the press.

I then sent them the 327 testimonials received through this site (as of 6/08/21), along with a few that I hope will catch their attention- including one from a person whose home borders the course! Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit something.

I am including the last exchange mentioned above as the rest of this post. Please contact me directly with any questions.

Jack- I am returning your email in regards to the reinstatement of the Disc Golf Course on the SLV tri-campus. As you know, district facilities are prioritized based on student needs and student usage. The SLV Board is waiting until the repairs to the tri-campus septic system and leach field are complete before they are prepared to discuss the Disc Golf Course. The board’s priority is to provide appropriate school facilities for all students before they address the recreational needs or areas of the school grounds.  The repair to the leach field and septic system have an estimated completion date of the end of Nov. or Dec. 2021. However, as in all construction projects related to the public schools, the district waits through the Ca.Dept. State Architect’s (DSA) approval process during various phases of the project, so the timelines are somewhat unpredictable. The Superintendent’s Administrative Assistant will notify you when the item is on the Board Agenda. Best regards- Laurie

Dr. Laurie Bruton,  SLVUSD Superintendent

Dr. Bruton,
Thank you for taking time to keep me informed. I’m happy to at least have something to share with all who come to me for news.
If I had any leverage I’d push back a little on the logic that the septic work needs to be done before discussions can begin, and add that it seems like working on a plan now, while school is not in session, makes the most sense regardless of when the course might be able to reopen.
As a parent of two students at the school I am sensitive to everything the SLVUSD board is juggling right now and accordingly have taken a patient, passive approach in advocating for reinstating the course. Knowing that it may be another six months or more before the matter is even discussed, though, we may need to try a bit more of the ‘squeaky wheel’ approach. I will start by sharing testimonials with the board shortly, but will likely eventually share our situation with local media as well, just to keep the issue active in the community’s collective mind. 
I am confident that we (the local disc golf community) can commit to steps that will more than satisfy the board that reopening Black Mouse is the right decision- and fund the costs of those steps. All we need is a bit of time together to work it out.
Can you please send me the name and contact info of the superintendent’s admin you mentioned so I can check in from time to time?
Wishing you nothing but the best with your next adventure,
Jack Trageser

Dr. Bruton,
As promised I’m attaching a PDF with 320-plus testimonials regarding Black Mouse (I cc’d Ms. Berquist as well). I can come discuss the issue with any board member at her/his convenience. I’ve pasted a few below that jumped out at me- particularly one submitted by a neighbor whose property borders the course.
Virginia Justus, Boulder Creek- “My 12 year old son and his friends have recently got into disc golf.  He and his friends are middle schoolers in the SLVUSD. It is a great way to get kids out and away from screens, having fun in the fresh air with friends.”
Brian, Felton- “This course brings healthy exercise, time in nature, great memories with friends, and a place to gather with community. I think it is incredible the youth were involved with planting the course. We miss this course dearly.”
Alaina Maloney, Felton- “Black Mouse is 1 mile from home. Its a beautiful and friendly course. It allows me to connect with nature & our community while also spending quality time in nature playing a sport i have loved for 25 years. Pls keep our small home town course in play.  It’s brings us together. Keeps us Santa Cruz mtn strong.”
Lawrence M. Valle, Ben Lomond- “This course was so lovely when it was open to play. Takes less than a few minutes to travel to on hwy9, and the whole family can have a good time. My kids love the hiking, natural obstacles. Please bring Black Mouse Back!”
Robert Green, Brookdale- “I helped run the disc golf club for SLV High school as well as nature academy at the Middle School. It was one of the best things in life to help encourage individual students to better their game. We helped teach proper respect and grow character through failures and success of the game. Ive seen these kida grow into fine young adults who still enjoy the game. Please bring back the Mouse for the sake of the kids. Its a almost free 365 days a year sport . Valuable to any community but especially to our isolated valley with not alot of things for our kids to do.”
Jesse Schmidt, Felton- “It is an activity for all with a very low entry-level cost.  That means people of all income levels can enjoy it.   Of the courses in the area it is by far my favorite.”
Patrick Salibi, 7292 Hacienda Way, Felton- “I’ve always found the disc golf community to be respectful of the school grounds, as well as the neighboring community. I live in the house on Hacienda that is arguably most affected by the increased parking from disc golfers and have no issue with seeing this course reinstated.”
Moana Whipple, Felton, CA- “Black Mouse is a gem of a course. It is short enough that my husband and I can bring our daughter to hike with us through the course, and we love every inch of it. Black Mouse teaches the novice player the essential desperation of trees, brings awareness to the existence of poison oak, and humbles anyone who thinks a putter surely cannot roll so very far. It would be devastating to lose such a beautiful and creative course forever.”
All the best,
Jack Trageser