The Environmental Services Division of the County of Humboldt’s Public Works Department is excited to announce that the first set of recreational trails and the Northridge Parking Area of the McKay Community Forest are now open for public use.
The Northridge Parking Area provides access to the first set of officially designated forest trails, which are still a work in progress. The county will continue to collaborate with the Humboldt Trails Council’s Volunteer Trail Stewards and the Redwood Coast Mountain Bike Association (RCMBA) to further develop and maintain the trails at Northridge.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be looking at the potential for 31 miles of trails in the McKay Community Forest. The work we are doing in partnership with the county to develop these trails is really a labor of love,” said Michael Proulx, Board President of the Humboldt Trails Council. “The Volunteer Trail Stewards love trails and being outdoors, and we look forward to more trials being completed in the future for visitors of the forest to enjoy.”
The McKay Community Forest is located southeast of Eureka along the urban-forest interface near Myrtletown, Cutten, and Ridgewood Heights. The community forest was established when Humboldt County acquired a total of 1,194 acres of forestland from the Green Diamond Resource Company in a two-phase acquisition, with support from the Trust for Public Land and several federal and state funding agencies.
“Green Diamond Resource Company is proud to see this vision become a reality and for the public to have safe access to this community forest,” said Peter Jackson, Vice President and General Manager of California Operations, Green Diamond Resource Company. “The multi-group public-private partnership formed by the county is a critical element to this project. It’s brought together several diverse groups and serves as a model of cooperation for mutual benefit and a ‘win’ for everyone.”
The community forest is envisioned as a place that enhances quality of life by providing opportunities to experience a diverse, dynamic, and productive forest. The forest will be managed for multiple purposes including public access and recreation, sustainable timber harvest, and watershed and resource conservation. Revenues generated through timber harvest will offset the costs of management and maintenance and fund the development of trails, access points, and other amenities.
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the McKay Community Forest Trail Plan, Trail Plan Environmental Study, and McKay Community Forest Stewardship Plan. The trail plan provides a blueprint for developing approximately 31 miles of trails to support recreational and educational activities. The forest stewardship plan addresses non-recreational aspects of managing the forest, including silviculture, fire risk reduction, and habitat restoration.
“We started discussing this project over 10 years ago, and we knew that the community had been visiting the McKay Community Forest for years. Now they can do that both safely and legally,” said Rex Bohn, Humboldt County First District Supervisor. “I would like to thank county staff, our partners at the Green Diamond Resource Company, the Trust for Public Land, RCMBA, the Volunteer Trail Stewards and everyone involved to bring this project to where it is now. This project has so many benefits for everyone, and I look forward to enjoying the trails and know the community will enjoy them too.”
For the near future, community members who wish to enjoy the newly opened trails may access them in the Northridge Parking Area, located on Northridge Road in Cutten, while other access points to the trails are developed.
The Northridge Parking Area and public trails are open from sunrise to sunset. Visitors are asked to be courteous to other people on the trail and respectful of the wildlife and plant communities. Bicyclists must yield to other trail users and travel at safe speeds. Dogs must be on a leash, and dog owners are asked to pick up dog waste for proper disposal. Camping, motorcycles, fires, and firearms are prohibited.
Humboldt Trails Council’s Volunteer Trail Stewards meet every Tuesday and Wednesday to develop and maintain McKay Community Forest trails and host community volunteer workdays the first Saturday of each month. The next community volunteer workday at the McKay Community Forest will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Community members with interest in joining are asked to meet at the storage container at Redwood Flats on Fern Street off Walnut Drive in Cutten at 9 a.m. For more information, please visit humtails.org/volunteer.
For more information on the McKay Community Forest, please visit humboldtgov.org/mckayforest or call (707) 441-7741.
A map of McKay Community Forest trails, courtesy of the The Environmental Services Division of the County of Humboldt’s Public Works Department.