Humboldt County’s recent acquisition of 1,000 acres of forestland within the McKay Tract, located southeast of Eureka, puts another major mark on the map for the North Coast as the first community forest owned and managed by a county government in California. The acquisition, in addition to the conservation easement placed on the remainder of the 7,600-acre tract, aims to provide a host of benefits: from watershed protection and restoration to recreation and more sustainable timber harvest.
However, there is still much work ahead before the largely landlocked property is officially open to the public. Deputy Director Hank Seemann of Humboldt County Public Works stated that the top priority is identification and environmental review of possible access points and trail segments—with the likely first access point to be located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds. Seemann said he hopes to get the first trail segments completed by the “Best of Humboldt” Fair in late June. Development of a complete trail network will likely take several years.
Subsequent to the access and trail planning, the county will begin to plan for timber harvest. As outlined in the project proposal, a working forest is a key component to having a viable, economically self-sustaining community forest. With input from BBW & Associates, the county states they will be using a management approach consistent with the City of Arcata’s community forest program. Seemann stated that he appreciates the public’s patience.
In the mean time, and community members are encouraged to get involved in a variety of ways including helping with trail planning and construction, monitoring for appropriate use and trash cleanups (sign up as a volunteer: www.humtrails.org/mckay). For those interested in making a donation to the project, a “Friends of the McKay Community Forest” fund has been set up at the Humboldt Area Foundation. To get on the email list for updates, to read Jerry Rohde’s eye-opening history of the McKay Tract, and for more information about the project and future plans visit: