Sunny Brae Forest Passes 300 Acres With New Addition – September 27, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Morris Property fills in a missing link to Fickle Hill Road, simplifying access and management of the Sunny Brae Forest. Graphic courtesy City of Arcata

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

SUNNY BRAE FOREST – Fulfilling years of patient work, the City of Arcata last week secured funding for a massive addition to the Sunny Brae Forest (SBF). The nearly $2 million grant was approved by the state Wildlife Conservation Board at its Tuesday, Sept. 13 meeting. An additional $350,00 was provided by Caltrans.

The Morris Property, located on the SBF’s northeast side, will add 114 acres to the 200-acre SBF.

The parcel offers key advantages for not just expansion of the SBF’s trail network, but the forest’s maintenance. It allows entry from Fickle Hill Road, vastly simplifying access which will be needed for road maintenance, restoration and logging.

The City can now focus on acquisition of other parcels, including one owned by Green Diamond Resource Company and located at the other end of the Ridge Trail. It includes a half-mile segment of the Ridge Trail fronting Janes Creek.

Environmental Services Dept. Director Mark Andre offered these thoughts on the Morris acquisition:

It's not "proposed" any more. City of Arcata Graphic

“The City of Arcata is pleased that the state has awarded this grant and recognizes the significant natural area values that will be protected with this expansion of the Sunny Brae tract of the Arcata Community Forest. Benefits include wildlife habitat protection, recreational trail access, watershed and water quality values, viewshed and highly  productive working forestland.

“Another key parcel associated with our expansion of the Sunny Brae tract is the Schmidbauer parcel, which we are working hard to get funded by the Wildlife Conservation Board at their November, 2011 meeting.

“Key to the success of this acquisition has been the dedicated  work by our conservation partner, Trust for Public Lands, especially Trish Strickland who worked closely with City staff.

“We are grateful to Bob and Carol Morris for working with the City to expand our public forest and  also thank George and Mary Schmidbauer for working with us as well, as we hope to add an additional 22 acres to the forest in November.

“Arcata’s forestry model  integrates ecological, social, and economic components into cohesive approaches to forestry issues. Community-based approaches give local residents both the opportunity and the responsibility to manage their natural resources effectively and to enjoy the benefits of that responsibility.”

Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who lives just downhill from the forest, was drawn into activism by what was to be an aggressive timber harvest by Sierra Pacific Industries.

Organizing the Sunny Brae Arcata Neighborhood Association, he catalyzed the community and City of Arcata into acquiring the property for eventual public use.

“When we were  working on acquiring the original Sunny Brae Forest property, we talked about how it could anchor future acquisitions to expand it and connect it to the existing Arcata Community Forest,” Lovelace said.  “It’s been truly amazing to see how quickly the City has been able to turn that vision into a reality.

“The Morris property is really key to making the Sunny Brae Forest work.  This parcel makes the forest far more manageable by providing better access for trailwork, restoration and timber management.  It also contains the very headwaters of both Beith and Grotzman creeks.”

Continued Lovelace, “This project went from opposition, to opportunity to long-range vision, and now we’re seeing the  implementation of that vision. It’s been a great example of what our community can do when we work together and organize around a constructive goal.  Expanding Arcata’s Community Forest keeps this working land in resource production, while providing recreational opportunities and protection for both water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. It demonstrates that we can find creative solutions to resolving land use conflicts in ways that benefit both the land owner and the community.”

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