County OKs McK CSD’s restoration and trail project

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – ​The county’s Planning Commission has approved permitting for an “ambitious project” restoring salmonid habitat and creating new river access in a wetland area owned and managed by the McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD).

​Approved without discussion as part of the commission’s November 19 consent agenda, the project will improve and increase salmonid habitat in the Mad River watershed and create access to a river overlook.

​The project area is located in McKinleyville, on Fischer Avenue near the intersection of Fischer Avenue and at the western segment of School Road from Ocean Drive to Verwer Avenue.

​The habitat restoration includes removal of 4.25 acres of percolation ponds to “restore a more natural connection to the Mad River,” according to a written staff report. Two acres of new wetlands will be created within the pond infrastructure footprint along with 1.4 new acres of open water for “off-channel rearing refugia habitat for salmonids.” ​​

​Also part of the project is creation of a 1,775 foot channel connecting the river to the pond area to allow juvenile fish access. Reconnection of the river to the project area’s floodplain will create off-channel habitat.

​The project’s trail development establishes access to a Mad River overlook off the existing paved School Road pathway. There will also be a trail from the overlook to a river access area.

​There will be parking access via five additional parallel parking spots along School Road and an ADA-reserved spot. A vehicle turnaround will also be developed.

​The project has been in planning stages since 2012 and is supported by a variety of state and federal grants sponsored by California Trout. The MCSD also gained a Habitat Conservation Fund grant for the project’s design.

​The MCSD collaborated with several non-government organizations, the Wiyot tribe and state and federal environmental agencies. The district and the county also worked with property owners to “fashion a suite of road modifications to lessen the impact to the neighborhood,” according to the written report.

​“This ambitious project will enhance valuable fish and wildlife habitat as well as enhance public access and recreation opportunities while preserving open space,” the report states.


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