Mad River Union
McKINLEYVILLE – McKinleyville is getting its own community forest. (Note: see the official news release from Trust for Public Lands and Green Diamond Resource Co., below.)
The McKinleyville Community Services District announced that week that the Trust for Public Lands has received a grant from the State of California Natural Resources Agency to purchase 556 acres from Green Diamond Resource Co. The trust will then hand over the property to the MCSD.
The property is located on McKinleyville’s eastern boundary and stretches from Hunts Lane on the south to Murray Road to the north. The property includes Doug fir, Sitka spruce and redwoods.
“It will create a permanent linear greenbelt of forestland on the edge of McKinleyville,” states a grant application submitted to a different agency for the project.
MCSD officials have said that the forest will be used for hiking, biking and habitat restoration. The MCSD is planning to create a sustainable timber harvest plan to fund forest management.
All of those details will need to be worked out, but the MCSD has time. According to a report from MCSD Manager Patrick Kaspari, it will take about 18 months before the property is transfered to the MCSD.
Kaspari explained that there will be a variety of appraisals conducted and it will take time for money to be transfered.
The forest, which Green Diamond has actively harvested, will be purchased by the trust from the timber company for $4,874,500. The state grant will cover near $4 million of the cost, with the remainder paid for by the trust.
The MCSD began planning for the McKinleyville Community Forest before the grant received final approval.
In October, the district submitted a grant application to the North Coast Resource Partnership asking for $15,000 for technical assistance in creating a comprehensive forest management plan.
The district has also created a Community Forest Committee. Committee members have discussed expanding its membership to 11 to 15 people. Members could include two MCSD board members, the MCSD general manager, the MCSD parks and recreation director, the MCSD operations director, a MCSD parks staff member, a member of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee and a member of the McKinleyville Park and Recreation Committee.
The committee may also be expanded to include a biologist members of the public an natural resources experts.
The successful grant application was announced Dec. 9 on the MCSD’s Facebook page.
“MCSD is very excited to share the news that the Trust for Public Lands has been awarded the funding to purchase 550 acres of forest land from Green Diamond Resource Co. for the purpose of creating a Community Forest for McKinleyville,” stated the Facebook post. “There are many steps yet to take place before the property becomes open to the public for recreational access, but McKinleyville residents can look forward to having a community forest in the near future. If you want to continue to be updated on the work toward this community asset, be sure to review the monthly MCSD Board meeting agendas as well as the Park and Recreation Committee meeting agendas.”
The news release:
California Natural Resources Agency Approves Grant
For McKinleyville Community Forest Purchase
McKinleyville, CA: Last week the California Natural Resources Agency announced successful grant applications, including awarding $3,877,928 to create the McKinleyville Community Forest.
Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said "We are excited to award these grants to support organizations and local governments that are committed to expanding and improving access to the outdoors.”
The funds for this grant were made available thanks to Proposition 68, which was passed by voters in 2018. The 553 acre tract is located along the eastern boundary of McKinleyville and lies south of Murray Road, extending to near Hunts Drive. The property is currently owned by Green Diamond Resource Company.
“We are very excited that we received the grant for the community forest. This will be a wonderful asset for the enjoyment of our residents. Much thanks to our staff that worked with The Trust for Public Land and Green Diamond to make this happen,” said former MCSD President Mary Burke.
Pat Kaspari, MCSD General Manager added there is still more work to be done. “We will need to finalize the purchase agreement with The Trust for Public Land and will be working with adjacent landowners to secure additional access points and parking areas. We look forward to engaging with the community to help design the trail system and address the other challenges of this exciting project.”
The Trust for Public Land’s California Senior Project Manager John Bernstein noted: “The Trust for Public Land has helped create community forests across the country and this project builds on that legacy and will provide McKinleyville with access to parks, forests and open spaces, while ensuring the property will be preserved and protected from development. The Proposition 68 grant process is highly competitive and we are grateful for the state’s investment and are thankful to MCSD and Green Diamond for their partnership in making this project a reality.”
The tract is currently commercial timberland and has been actively managed by Green Diamond. “We recognize this tract serves as the backdrop to the McKinleyville community and is uniquely situated to provide recreational opportunities for hiking, biking and horse trails immediately adjacent to the center of McKinleyville. There is also the opportunity for continued forest management by the Services District on portions of the property,” said Jason Carlson, General Manager and Vice President for Green Diamond. Carlson also noted that Green Diamond is continuing to work with The Trust for Public Land to secure a conservation easement on the majority of the remainder of the McKinleyville Tract that would prevent any future subdivision of the property.
About the Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.