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Humboldt County residents are one step closer to potentially having new forest trails to enjoy on the North Coast. The County of Humboldt today released the final McKay Community Forest Trail Plan along with the associated environmental report, both of which are available for review and comment on the county’s website. The trail plan proposes a trail network with 31 miles of multi-use roads, multi-use trails, hiking trails, and mountain bike trails.
The trail plan describes the overall goals, objectives, guiding principles, design standards, and construction practices for building sustainable trails to support outstanding outdoor experiences for a diversity of trail users. The plan contains detailed maps showing the proposed access points and trail locations. The final plan was revised based on 85 comment letters received from the public on the draft plan.
The environmental report identifies a set of mitigation measures to ensure that implementation of the trail plan does not have significant effects on water quality and biological resources. The public review period for the environmental report extends from Dec. 17, 2020, through Jan. 19, 2021. The Board of Supervisors will consider adopting the report in February or March, 2021. Trail construction within the McKay Community Forest can begin once the environmental report is adopted and public health guidance allows groups to gather for trail building.
The trail plan was prepared with an emphasis on accommodating users with accessibility needs. The proposed trail network includes 1.5 miles of trails that fully meet the technical standards for accessible trails, and 0.7 miles of trails that meet most, but not all, the technical standards due to topographic constraints. The trail plan includes 5 miles of trails with features designed specifically for mountain bike riders, to be constructed in conjunction with the Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association. Mountain bikers often prefer narrow, curvy trails with features that are technically challenging and provide an experience of play and discovery.
“The release of the trail plan and environmental report for the McKay Community Forest is a huge milestone and gives us something really exciting to look forward to in 2021,” said Rex Bohn, Humboldt County First District Supervisor. “Trails and open spaces help make Humboldt County a great place to live in and visit, and trails have been especially important for people this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once groups can gather once again, hopefully next spring, we’ll be able to work with volunteers to start the trail building and make the McKay Community Forest a tremendous asset for our community.”
The McKay Community Forest was established in August, 2014, in partnership with Green Diamond Resource Company and The Trust for Public Land, and then expanded in June 2020 to its current size of 1,194 acres. Funding for developing and managing the Community Forest will be achieved through timber harvest revenues, grants, and donations. A parking area was constructed in Cutten along Northridge Road in 2018 to provide dedicated access to the community forest. Additional access points will be located along Harris Street and within Redwood Acres. More entrances are expected to be developed near Redwood Fields, Manzanita Avenue, and Walnut Drive within 2 to 5 years as large parcels are permitted for subdivision.
Trails will be developed incrementally in a logical sequence over the course of several years. The first trails to be built and opened to the public will be located near Northridge Road, Harris Street, and Redwood Acres. Trail construction will depend heavily on the California Conservation Corps, Volunteer Trail Stewards, and Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association. A total of 12 bridges will be required.
The trail plan includes a proposed Bike Skills Park near the Northridge parking area that would be developed and maintained in collaboration with the Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association. Facilities would include a pump track, skills area, kids zone, and three sets of flow trails. The pump track would provide a continuous loop with features that allow riders to gain momentum without pedaling by “pumping” the bike with up and down movements. The skills area would provide features developed with dirt or wood to help riders practice bike handling, balancing, and jumping. The kids zone would provide small-scale features with a focus on safety and skill development. The flow trails would have a concentration of technical features with a range of difficulty levels. These facilities would provide opportunities for riders, especially youth, to learn and practice skills and then apply those skills on the trails within the Community Forest.
For more information contact:
Hank Seemann, Deputy Director, Public Works