by Ryan Burns
Two tracts of local forested land can breathe oxygen-rich sighs of relief today after the state's Wildlife Conservation Board approved two major grants that will protect their riparian habitats.
The City of Arcata received a $650,000 grant to expand the 793-acre Arcata Community Forest by 22 acres. The acquisition will help link the city-managed community forest with the 175-acre Sunny Brae Forest, which Arcata purchased back in 2007. According to the Wildlife Conservation Board, the property and its streams are threatened by degradation from years of intensive logging, subdivision and conversion to residential use.
The conservation board says that City stewardship of the land will help a number of threatened species, including the red tree vole, the northern spotted owl, the sharp-shinned hawk and the ring-tailed cat.
Next, the board approved a $1,228,750 grant to the Northcoast Regional Land Trust for a conservation easement on 1,622 acres just east of Willow Creek -- the town. The property actually contains portions of Willow Creek the creek, along with four tributaries. It also contains large, healthy stands of Port Orford cedar, one of the world's most valuable timber species (and a threatened one, to boot).
The conservation easement will allow area landowners to continue some forms of timber production "including forest thinning that will benefit both forested and riparian areas within the conservation easement," according to the conservation board agenda.
For more information you can read project descriptions in the Wildlife Conservation Board's agenda packet.