McKay Community Forest Approved for 197-acre Expansion
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors today voted to approve the purchase of 197 acres of forestland southeast of Eureka to expand the McKay Community Forest. The parcel to be acquired from Green Diamond Resource Company is located east of the unincorporated community of Ridgewood Heights.
Funding for the property acquisition will be provided by the California Natural Resources Agency, CAL FIRE, and the Long Foundation. The project has been facilitated by The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization with extensive involvement on the North Coast. The Wildlife Conservation Board was actively involved with administering the state funding for the project. Close of escrow is expected by June 30, 2020.
The McKay Community Forest was established on Aug. 21, 2014, when Humboldt County acquired 1,000 acres of forestland from Green Diamond. The McKay Community Forest is managed for multiple objectives including public access and recreation, sustainable timber harvest, and watershed and resource protection. Humboldt County expects to release the final Trail Plan for the McKay Community Forest this Fall, providing a blueprint for developing nearly 30 miles of trails to support recreational and educational activities. Public trail access to the new addition for the McKay Community Forest will be provided from the designated parking area located on Northridge Road.
Humboldt County will soon initiate preparation of a Forest Stewardship Plan and Non-industrial Timber Management Plan to guide forest management. Revenues generated through timber harvest will offset the costs of management and maintenance and fund the development of trails, access points, and other amenities.
“The McKay Community Forest is a long-term investment for our community,” said Rex Bohn, Humboldt County First District Supervisor. “We can provide outstanding recreational and education opportunities right at Eureka’s back door while supporting local jobs and maintaining the ecosystem services provided by the forest. We’re working hard to be ready to start building trails and opening the community forest for all county residents to enjoy. I appreciate Green Diamond’s recognition of the benefits of creating a community forest at the Eureka area’s urban interface and their exceptional efforts to make this expansion possible.”
Green Diamond Property within McKay Tract to receive Conservation Easement
Concurrent with the expansion of the county-owned McKay Community Forest, CAL FIRE is planning to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 5,967 acres of forestland retained by Green Diamond within the McKay Tract. The easement will permanently restrict development while allowing the property to continue to be managed as a working forest.
The McKay Tract is situated within the Ryan Creek watershed which is a tributary to Humboldt Bay through Eureka Slough. The McKay Tract is one of the most productive forestland properties in Humboldt County and contains habitat for coho salmon, northern spotted owl, and a variety of aquatic and terrestrial species. In 2009, Green Diamond and TPL initiated a conservation plan to preserve the natural communities and water quality of the Ryan Creek watershed through creation of a community forest in two phases and establishment of a conservation easement on the majority of Green Diamond’s holdings. The conservation easement will allow continued active forest management while preventing habitat impacts associated with forest fragmentation and water quality impacts associated with urbanization.
“We welcome the close of the final two phases of the McKay land sale and conservation easement,” said Green Diamond Vice President and General Manager Jason Carlson. “This completes a concept that was initiated over a decade ago in conversations with then Supervisor Jimmy Smith. We appreciate the efforts of Supervisor Bohn, The Trust for Public Land, and the multiple funding agencies that helped bring this long-term plan to fruition. The McKay Community Forest is a unique asset to the community and the conservation easement covering approximately 5,967 acres of land east of Ryan Creek ensures the tract will remain as productive timberland in perpetuity.”
"CAL FIRE is pleased to be part of this private-public partnership to conserve a working forest landscape that will deliver carbon sequestration, clean air and water, local timber resources and employment, and provide a place for public recreation for future generations," said CAL FIRE Director Chief Thom Porter.