The County of Humboldt was recently chosen to receive a Housing-Related Parks Program award of $175,375 from the state Department of Housing and Community Development to improve public access to the McKay Community Forest. The goal of the program is to increase the overall supply of housing affordable to lower-income households by providing financial incentives for the creation, expansion, or renovation of community park and recreation amenities. The program was initiated by the state to recognize and reinforce the critical linkages between housing, jobs, and the economy in creating vital, livable communities.
The county Planning & Building Department and Public Works Department collaborated to submit an application to the state last year. Based on the number of restricted affordable housing units created within the county, a total of $175,375 in funds for park-related improvements was awarded.
In August 2014, Humboldt County acquired 1,000 acres of forestland at the urban interface of Myrtletown, Eureka, Cutten, and Ridgewood Heights with federal and state grant funds to establish the community forest. The community forest will be managed for multiple benefits including public access and recreation, sustainable timber harvest, and watershed restoration and conservation.
The acquired property was formerly industrial timberland and does not have readily established access points. Therefore developing appropriate access points for the public is a high priority. A draft Public Access and Trails Plan is expected to be released in September. The funds received from the Housing-Related Parks Program will be used to develop a parking area and trailhead near Cutten and Ridgewood Heights. Construction of the community forest access point is expected in 2017.