It's been a long time coming but, just recently, there is great momentum building for the completion of the Humboldt Bay Trail.
When complete, this 13-mile section of the California Coastal Trail will run from south Eureka to Arcata along the bay, connecting our two largest population centers with a paved, multimodal path. It will serve as an anchor for a network of adjacent trails, including the Hammond Trail and trails yet-to-be-built.
Finally, you will be able to get from Eureka to Arcata (and vice versa) safely on your bike or walking, or pushing a stroller for that matter. The trail will increase road safety, expand recreational opportunities, improve community livability and promote active, healthy transportation.
The 6.5-mile Eureka Waterfront Trail and the Arcata-to-Bracut sections will be completed by fall. Construction funding is secured for all but the "final four" miles from Eureka to Bracut. Design and engineering work is being done now for this section and the county of Humboldt will seek construction funds in 2018.
To help make this vision a reality, a Humboldt Bay Trail Fund has been established by local individuals and businesses to support trail stewardship and maintenance. This new fund, held at the Humboldt Area Foundation, is key to attracting state and federal grants for construction of the final 4 miles at a time when grants are getting much more competitive. The fund will help ensure that the trail is welcoming and attractive to members of our own community and out-of-county visitors. It will be used to support volunteer stewardship efforts, to create a reserve for emergency repairs and to provide trail amenities such as signs and benches.
This is a community-driven and managed fund started just a few months ago. As of this week, early trail supporters have raised just over $100,000, thanks to community members and local businesses.
We invite you to become a stakeholder in our community trails fund. Not only will this trail provide recreation and be well used by locals, it will be a big draw for folks from outside Humboldt. People are drawn to places with high quality outdoor recreation opportunities and they spend money. (The national outdoor recreation economy contributes $646 billion in spending annually.)
The public is invited to get involved and learn more about the Humboldt Bay Trail at the upcoming Trail Summit on Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka. Come celebrate our successes to date and gear up for the completion of those final 4 miles of trail. The event kicks off with an open house highlighting local organizations involved in supporting the trail, followed by trail updates. After the presentations, staff from the city of Eureka will lead a brief walk just outside the door of the Wharfinger to preview the next phase of the Waterfront Trail that's currently under construction. Don't miss this opportunity to learn more and get involved in making the completion of the Humboldt Bay Trail a reality.
If you can't make it Saturday, you can directly support this effort by going to www.hafoundation.org/humboldtbaytrail.
Hope to see you out on the trails soon.
Editor's note: This piece first appeared as a Community Comment on KINS radio last week.
Dennis Rael is co-owner of Los Bagels, Arcata and Eureka, and is a member of Bay Trail Advocates.
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