McKinleyville to get new trails at Chah-GAH-Cho

NEW TRAILS Hiking trails, including one that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, will be built at Chah-GAH-Cho, located behind the Big Kmart in McKinleyville.  Graphic courtesy MLT

NEW TRAILS Hiking trails, including one that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, will be built at Chah-GAH-Cho, located behind the Big Kmart in McKinleyville. Graphic courtesy MLT

McKinleyville Land Trust

McKINLEYVILLE – The McKinleyville Land Trust (MLT) has been awarded a grant of $143,000 to develop its Chah-GAH-Cho property for greater public access and enjoyment, including a long-awaited trail improvement program.

“We are thrilled to get this funding,” said MLT Board President Tom Lisle. “The hard work and support of a lot of people in our community has finally paid off, and we are on the way to fulfilling a dream. It’s a win for us and a win for McKinleyville.”

Chah-GAH-Cho is located behind the Mill Creek Marketplace in McKinleyville, adjacent to the Big Kmart parking area and the Healthsport building. It’s been a special place for MLT since 1994, when MLT was formed to receive and manage the property as mitigation to preserve the remaining natural area in the Mill Creek Marketplace development.

Chah-GAH-Cho provides 9.4 acres of natural environment and recreational opportunities for the community. People come to stroll and walk their dogs on informal trails. An area of prairie offers a spectacular view of the Mad River, the Hammond Bridge, Arcata Bottom and the ocean, and there are forested groves of Douglas fir, grand fir, Sitka spruce and alder.

Funding was awarded through the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program of the California Natural Resources Agency. MLT partnered with Redwood Community Action Agency (RCAA) to submit the proposal. The RCAA staff and California Conservation Corps members will build a system of crushed-rock trails including several accessible by wheelchairs.

In addition, the project will include an informational kiosk, trailhead signs, bike racks, a bollard gate, fenced boundaries and dogipots.

The grant will also help continue restoration efforts on the land, which was used as pasture on part of a ranch for decades. Thinning of the smaller conifers will encourage growth of large trees in the forested area as well as reclaim some of the original prairie. Efforts to control non-native invasive species such as English ivy and pampas grass will continue.

When the project is completed, Chah-GAH-Cho will compliment MLT’s popular Mad River Bluffs as an attractive and accessible open space in another part of town. The 74-acre Mad River Bluffs, with developed trails offering a variety of views and habitats to explore, provides a model of what Chah-GAH-Cho will become.

Redwood Community Action Association (RCAA) submitted the grant proposal in cooperation with MLT. RCAA Natural Resources Service will manage and implement the project to build trails and complete other property improvements. RCAA also partnered with MLT in 2011 to develop the trail system at Mad River Bluffs.

The Chah-GAH-Cho project is also supported with grants from Coast Central Credit Union’s Community Investment Program and the McKinleyville Area Foundation, as well as individual donations. Additionally, MLT has received in-kind donations from local businesses, which have helped in fundraising and in maintaining the property. The MLT gratefully acknowledges the support of the community and looks forward to completing this project. Work will begin in late summer or fall.


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  1. Comments said:

    I was so opposed to that mall development. It was the most beautiful parcel in Mc Kinleyville. A trail is a small mitigation for what was lost.

  2. Patrick Gavin said:

    As a trustee of the Scott Gavin M.D. Trust, I can say #3 is definitely not true.

  3. Chuta said:

    The misinformed Trail of Tears,

    1) I walk those informal trails with my dog and out in the open pasture. The homeless use the area and hopefully the work MLT does will encourage them to go elsewhere. reread the article.

    2) Yes there’ll be bikers but they won’t have a lot to do except go in short circles of figure 8s. See the map. I’m guessing not much hardcore bike riding going on…but we’ll see.

    3) Yes this is development of an open space. Is that so bad, especially when it develops trails that people can use safely? The land will be preserved just as much, just with formal trails. Government lies really?…I doubt that. I bet Dr. Gavin hated the Mill Ck marketplace development and that the parcel grew wild over time allowing homeless use. The property is not being opened up for development, just trails…reread the article.

  4. Trail of Tears said:

    The lies,

    1) people dont walk any trails now. The last time a person was lurking around, was when homeless lived behind Sal’s. No existing trails as grant application lies about. Animal trails are for animals only, not be newly developed with crushed rock, bike racks, etc….

    2) Bikers are gonna ride on trail.

    3) this is not preservation, this is development of natural habitat. The land will be less preserved after this development. Too bad doctor Gavin was not around to help verify these gubbamint lies. In fact, the family is selling his old place in part because of this trail not preserving the land, but opening it up for development and people problems taking away from the natural effects.

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