Rees Hughes: Measure A will help prepare Arcata’s open spaces for the future

I love living in Arcata. I walk weekly in the Community Forest and the Arcata Marsh. My wife and I play tennis regularly at Larson Park. My children played soccer on the fields around the Community Center and grew up on the swings and slides of Redwood Park. 

Arcata has developed an outstanding infrastructure of parks and trails. I am appreciative of Arcata’s emphasis on infilling and limiting residential sprawl and the efforts that have been made to expand wetlands and to protect green space and waterways. This approach to development and these amenities have certainly enriched the local economy and quality of life of those of us who live in Arcata.

I must say that the importance of our parks, open spaces, waterways and trails has never been more apparent than during these COVID-19 times.

What lies ahead? We rely heavily on the sustainable timber harvests from the Community Forest and Jacoby Creek Forest to supplement the investment of city general fund revenues and grant funds. It made the purchase possible of the 20-acre Lima property in 2018 and the 49-acre Forsyth parcel in 2019. 

This has incorporated two major inholdings into the surrounding Community Forest. State grants leveraged with local match funds enabled the 114-acre addition to the Jacoby Creek Forest in 2020. The Larson Park makeover and the Greenview Park improvements and the Bay Trail North were funded from a variety of local and grant monies. 

Some state grants are only available to cities that have passed a local revenue enhancement measure aimed at improving local or regional park infrastructure. And, many grants require a local match so a dedicated city fund as would be established by Measure A can expand opportunities. 

Future plans in Arcata include development of Carlson Park in the Valley West area, extension of the Annie and Mary Trail north and east from the Skate Park, completion of the Arcata Ridge Trail, improvements around the Alder Grove Marsh, purchase of acreage that could serve as a public trailhead to the Jacoby Creek Forest, development of a off-shoulder trail from the Wildlife Sanctuary toward Samoa. The list goes on.

Earnings from the Community Forest timber harvests will continue to be an invaluable source of funds. But timber revenue and the city’s general fund are often inadequate to keep pace with parks, trails, habitat protection and restoration and open space needs. This is where Measure A comes into the picture.

This Nov. 3, voters in Arcata will have the opportunity to approve an annual $37 tax on each parcel within the Arcata City Limits. The roughly $175,000 this will generate each year dedicated for improvement and maintenance of parks, open spaces and trails; protection of land around creeks and support of working lands buffering our community. The special fund will have oversight that includes expenditure review by community members.

I see this as a continued investment in our future. Our oldest daughter recently moved back after spending the last eight years working in Los Angeles. She has had new eyes for what makes our communities special. Easy access to the outdoors. The abundance of green space and the absence of unrestrained growth. 

Let’s not take that for granted. Vote YES on Measure A. 

Rees Hughes is a local trail volunteer, devoted walker and author of Hiking Humboldt: 101 Shorter Day Hikes. 







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