McKay Tract

Community Forest

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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.              

        ~ John Muir

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The Volunteer Trail Stewards is a project of the Humboldt Trails Council, Friends of the Dunes, City of Arcata, City of Eureka, and the County of Humboldt.

RSVP


Volunteers 55+ years of age might be interested in joining a new VTS effort with RSVP, a program of the Volunteer Center of the Redwoods and the Area 1 Agency on Aging...  RSVP is a national volunteer program providing the following benefits to those 55+ who sign up and report monthly hours: limited mileage reimbursement, supplemental volunteer insurance, invitation to their annual Recognition event, and support from RSVP staff to get the word out about Volunteer Trail Stewards.

If you are interested, please contact Stacy or Rees.

 

Get Your VTS Vest!

Volunteer Trail Steward vests are available for $30 or with regular and devoted service, you may earn one, or discounts are available.  VTS are encouraged to wear these whenever you are on the Hammond, at the Friends of the Dunes Nature Center or in Arcata’s Community Forest.  Not only do they provide some protection against the weather but they help us be more visible.   

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McKay Tract
Trail Stewards

Help support the vision of a community forest in greater Eureka!

Humboldt County is currently considering accepting and managing forestland adjacent to Myrtletown and Cutten as a community forest, in collaboration with the City of Eureka, and community support is needed to bring this vision to reality.

 

The proposed McKay Community Forest would stretch for roughly four miles along the west side of Ryan Creek and the eastern perimeter of Eureka, from Park Street on the north to the land east of Ridgewood Drive on the south.  The Forest would be situated adjacent to Redwood Acres Fairgrounds and Cutten, starting at 1,000 acres and potentially growing over time. The vision is that the McKay Community Forest would be managed for habitat conservation, sustainable timber production and public recreation, much like the Arcata Community Forest.

 

The purchase of the Forest is being coordinated with state and federal funds by The Trust for Public Land from Green Diamond Resources Company, the current property owner and willing seller. The County has analyzed projected future revenues from sustainable timber management and is currently developing a financial plan to cover the total costs of the recreational, public safety, and restoration needs of the Forest. The challenge for the County will be finding the resources in the short term to improve access, develop a network of multi-use trails, restore old logging roads, etc.  

 

Volunteer Trail Stewards (VTS) have partnered with several local jurisdictions to reduce trail maintenance and construction costs while also fostering greater community support for recreation and conservation projects. Trail Stewards contribute to trail development and maintenance through volunteer work-days and also serve as “eyes and ears” on local trails. The creation of a McKay Community Forest VTS group with community members pledging support would help show the County and the City of Eureka the level of interest for the Forest, and demonstrate the community resources that will be available to help them in the management and maintenance.

 

At the end of March or early April, the County Board of Supervisors will make a final decision whether to accept and manage the McKay for a community forest. Pending this ultimate decision at the Board of Supervisors and securing a final funding source in May, the County may begin managing the forestland as early as this summer. Although the process of building the trail network would not begin until Fall 2014 at the very earliest, it is important to know the level of community support now. The commitment of citizens will go a long way toward helping the Board of Supervisors support this investment in our future.

 

IF HUMBOLDT COUNTY ACCEPTS THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWNING AND MANAGING THE PROPOSED McKAY COMMUNITY FOREST, I AM READY AND WILLING TO SERVE AS A VOLUNTEER TRAIL STEWARD or SUPPORT THE PROJECT IN ANOTHER WAY.

Contact Dave Hayes, HTC Board Member and McKay Tract Volunteer Trail Stewards Coordinator

h_d_hayes@yahoo.com

Sign me up!  I WANT TO PLEDGE!

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Humboldt County Accepts Funds to Establish 1,000-acre Community Forest near Eureka


On April 15, 2014, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept funds that will allow the County to purchase 1,000 acres of forestland southeast of Eureka to establish a community forest. The community forest will be managed in collaboration with the City of Eureka for multiple purposes including public access and recreation, sustainable timber harvest, and watershed and resource conservation.


The County will receive nearly $6.8 million from the California Natural Resources Agency, State Coastal Conservancy, and California Wildlife Conservation Board to acquire the 1,000-acre property, which is a portion of the McKay Tract owned by Green Diamond Resource Company. The property is situated adjacent to salmon-bearing Ryan Creek, a tributary to Humboldt Bay. Until a permanent name is established, the property will be called the McKay Community Forest.


Continuation of a working forest is essential to financial viability, with revenue generated through timber harvest used to offset management costs. Grants and donations will provide additional financial assistance. The financial plan has been developed based on no new encumbrance to the County’s General Fund.


“This project represents a strategic opportunity for a long-term investment in our community,” said Rex Bohn, Chair of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. “Redwoods are part of our heritage, and this property is a treasure in Eureka’s backyard. It will be wonderful to make it accessible to the public in the near future, while maintaining productive timberland and contributing to economic productivity and local jobs. We’re going to use this forest for work and play, and we’re going to do it the right way.”


The project has been facilitated by The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, which has pledged to provide $125,000 to the County to assist in start-up costs. According to David Sutton, Director of California Land Conservation, “This is an unusual grant for The Trust for Public Land, but we feel it speaks to the importance of this conservation project and the significance of the growing community forest movement in the West, a movement that we have supported since its inception.”


The City of Arcata’s longstanding community forest has demonstrated how forestland near the edge of town can be managed in a manner that balances public use, wood production, and forest conservation. After purchase is complete, the McKay Community Forest will become the first community forest owned and managed by a county government in California.


The new community forest will depend on active public involvement including trail building and maintenance, donations, volunteer patrols, and other activities. “The public is going to make the McKay Community Forest special,” said Supervisor Mark Lovelace. “I’m looking forward to their involvement because that will ensure this project is a reflection of our community.”


The property will be transferred from Green Diamond to the County within the next two to three months, however the property will not be open to the public until appropriate access points and trail segments are developed. The timeframe for making the property accessible will depend on fundraising and grant opportunities, volunteer interest, and coordination with neighboring landowners.


For more information, visit http://www.co.humboldt.ca.us/pubworks/mckayforest. You can also get emails with periodic updates by sending an email to: mckayforest@co.humboldt.ca.us.

Humboldt County closes escrow on McKay Tract

Management plan, trail access points to be shaped in coming months

By Will Houston, Times-Standard      August 30, 2014

After nearly four years of work between state, timber and local officials, Humboldt County has the title to nearly 1,000 acres of community forest southeast of Eureka after closing escrow with Green Diamond Resource Company.

"Having it actually close escrow, that means this is the community's forest now," 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said. "It's not the county of Humboldt that owns it, it's the people of the county of Humboldt that own it. As a community forest, the management and the trail planning will be guided by public input."

The county was able to purchase a portion of Green Diamond Resource Company's 7,600-acre McKay Tract using $6.8 million in funds received from three state agencies: the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Natural Resources Agency and the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Having received the full funding in May, Public Works Department Deputy Director Hank Seemann said closing escrow with Green Diamond on Aug. 21 was a hurdle that required several months to jump.

"There is a lot going into closing escrow," Seemann said. "That was a big accomplishment."

Next Monday, Seemann said, the county will make a formal announcement on the purchase and future plans at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Proposed to generate revenue for the county through sustainable timber harvesting practices while providing outdoor community access and educational opportunities, the McKay Tract Community Forest has been an eagerly awaited addition for the county.

As the land has only hosted timber harvesting owners for several generations, Seemann said the current infrastructure and trail system needs improvement to make the county's vision come to fruition.

"We want to the public to see this new public land, but we need to get it ready first," Seemann said. "We do have a goal of trying to set up a good access point and at least a short trail loop as soon as possible. It's hard to pinpoint a month. With a project of this magnitude, things need to come together before we open it up."

As part of the county's agreement with the funding state agencies, the county must develop a management plan to lay out how it will balance the forest's intended uses. A state environmental review will also have to be performed before any projects can move forward. On the forefront of this effort is designing access points to the forest and developing a trail system.

"That's going to take some time because there are really important issues such as being compatible with adjacent properties and having access trail points that avoid user conflicts," Seemann said. "The community forest will be used by people who are walking, running, equestrians, riding bikes. So it's really important that different speeds, different sizes, different capabilities are accounted for. And, they have to be tied to appropriate access points."

While the property has existing roads and trails made by trespassers over the years, Seemann said more trails will have to be built or altered so that users are no longer trespassing on private land. Another issue that has to be addressed is parking.

"There are no perfect, ready-to-go access points," Seemann said. "We have some top candidates, but they all need work before they can be opened up."

There will be no lack of volunteer help to build and maintain the trails as the Humboldt Volunteer Trail Stewards have been recruiting for the project since last year.

"They already have over 100 people signed up who want to do work in this forest," Lovelace said. "I've been out there on trail days where there has been 50 volunteers and seen them cut 600 feet of new trail from nothing. ... It's pretty phenomenal what a group of volunteers can accomplish in four hours."

Rees Hughes, one of the trail coordinators, said the group began outreach efforts last year in order to show how supportive the community would be should the board vote to purchase the land. Now that the focus has shifted from purchasing the forest to preparing it for public use, Hughes said he, his fellow volunteers and the county all have their work cut out for them.

"Based on what I see, it will take a while," he said. "This has been a parcel of land that has been used for industrial timber for many generations. It will probably take longer than we all want to get it ready for general public use."

For more information on the McKay Tract, please go to:

http://humboldtgov.org/McKayCommunityForest