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.