A walk on the Ridge Trailing through Arcata's Forest


Jessie Faulkner/Tri-City Weekly

Posted: 09/06/2011 11:11:10 AM PDT

Community support of the city of Arcata's ridge trail project is not only appreciated, it's necessary.

Arcatans and others have been planning and scheming to come up with eye-catching, irresistible fundraising events to help build the trail that will link West End Road to Buttermilk Lane and provide a 4-mile access to the city-owned forest. Once complete, the path will meander through the redwood-laden Arcata Community and Sunny Brae forests.

The outpouring of support for this endeavor, which has been in the works for a few years, makes all the difference to the potential government funders, said Mark Andre, director of the city of Arcata's Environmental Services Department.

In fact, Andre was slightly delayed for this discussion as he was guiding a representative of the Wildlife Conservation Board along some of the property planned for the through-trail. The representative and his wife, Sacramento-area residents, were making a vacation of the scouting trip north. That's just what Andre said the city hopes others do.

”We want to be known for our trail system,” he said.

The city is already known for its innovative wastewater marsh treatment system and the municipally managed community forest. It only makes sense to build upon that proclivity to outdoor activities.

Part of the 4-mile trail is possible through a conservation easement, part through properties the city is negotiating to purchase. Once complete, Andre said the hope is the trail will attract active visitors to Arcata and be sufficiently appealing to convince those adventurers to stay longer in Arcata.

The proposed trail also has the added benefit of ensuring the undeveloped nature of the city's eastern boundary remains just that -- forested and full of wildlife. Cameras situated at various locations have repeatedly documented critters in their natural habitat. The property acquisitions will also protect the headwaters of Janes Creek, Jolly Giant Creek and other streams.

The city is currently working with -- and grateful to -- George and Mary Schmidbauer and Cindy and Ted Humphry to purchase the property to finish the somewhat meandering path that will be suitable for hikers, bikers and equestrians. The city received an easement through a privately held parcel on the northern section of the trail. And the city has been working with Green Diamond Co. as well.

The actual construction of the trail is under way, Andre said, with a combination of staff and volunteer work. Most of it is already in place, he said, in the form of old logging roads or other passages. The task now is to remove brush and lay rock as needed.

Kirk Cohune, president of the board of the Humboldt Trails Council, a nonprofit clearinghouse advocating for and helping plan trails, is a mountain-biker by avocation.

”One of the reasons I got involved,” he said, “is that the community needs more trails.”

The completed Arcata Ridge Trail, Cohune said, will provide public access to Fickle Hill Road and the Sunny Brae Forest. He estimated about 2 miles of gravel-surfaced trail would be built to complete the 4-mile path. Engineering behind the trail is focused on preventing erosion and creating a path that will minimize conflict between the targeted users: mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians. For example, the addition of switchbacks will prevent mountain bikers from gaining excessive speed and conceivably running into nonwheeled trail travelers.

Eventually, when both the Arcata Ridge Trail and the Annie and Mary Trail (to Blue Lake) are complete -- there will be roughly just a half mile between the two, making it possible to walk or ride all the way from Arcata to Blue Lake, almost entirely on trails.

So far, the city has confirmed funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Coastal Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program, CalFire, Caltrans and the private Trust for Public Lands, all of which will help purchase the final pieces to finish the path.

That's not to say, however, that the active fundraising among the community hasn't played a critical role. Numerous supporters have contributed to the Arcata Forest Fund, administered through the Humboldt Area Foundation. Those contributions, Andre said, go directly to purchasing property and escrow costs.

Some of the fundraisers are not exactly forest-quiet, but certainly entertaining. Years ago, it wasn't unusual that men's organizations would cajole their members into donning female apparel for a good cause. The Humboldt County Historical Society has photographic proof of this pastime.

More recently, that quirky tradition saw life in the 2010 Bat N' Rouge, a campy cross-dressing softball game at the Arcata Ballpark that drew decked out players, many well-known, to raise money for the acquisition of the needed trail parcels. The final total was more than $20,000, Andre said, which went directly to closing escrow costs on one of the parcels intersected by the trail.

Just recently, the trail project split fundraising proceeds with the Eureka Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from the Father Oh Mary!'s Tapas and Tini's Fashion Show Aug. 27 at the Eureka Veterans Memorial Building, where lucky audience members got a peek at some of the players' finery for this year's spectacle.

The second Bat N' Rouge features men of the movers-and-shakers variety in drag while playing softball and their female counterparts in cheerleading garb as the Pom Pom Queens.

Andre will be among them. That night he'll be known as “Ivana Trail!”

”I told them if they did this again,” Andre said, “I'd play.”

He'll be in good company -- the team lineup includes such well-knowns as auctioneer Rex Bohn, Humboldt County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes, former North Coast Journal Editor Hank Sims, Security National Vice President Randy Gans, Arcata Chief of Police Tom Chapman, Arcata Eye Editor Kevin Hoover, Humboldt Baykeeper Director Pete Nichols and many more.

There may still be time to get tickets to this popular event set for 6:45 p.m. Friday. The doors open at 6 p.m., the opening ceremony commences at 6:45 p.m. and the “girls” play ball at 7 p.m.

”Bat N' Rouge is a wacky softball game with all the bells and whistles of a conventional softball game including the fabulous Pom Pom Queens,” according to the organizers. “The rules have been waived, cheating is a great thing and home runs can be purchased.

”The entire game is choreographed by the Eureka Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with live music and traditional game sound effects.”

All that peppiness is going to require some fuel -- head over to the concessions for food and beer from Plaza Catering (formerly Abruzzi Catering), Big Pete's Pizzeria and Lost Coast Brewery.

General admission is $15, but those wanting very special treatment -- and luxury -- can pay $75 for the All-Star VIP, which includes a full catered meal, special seating and “endless amounts of adult beverages,” Farber Bush said.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at all five HealthSPORT locations (Fortuna, Eureka (2), Arcata and Mckinleyville); in Eureka at Good Relations and Lost Coast Brewery; in Arcata at Arcata Exchange, Peoples Records or online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

The night will feature music from the Arcata Eye editor's band, Best Kept Secret, that happens to include Humboldt County 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace on guitar. Hoover, incidentally, is going as Doobie Fluffer Tush -- sound familiar?

There's even a place for kids in all this fun, a special kids' activity area.

”There's something in it for everybody,” Farber Bush said. “It's very family friendly, everybody loves trails. ... What makes it so cool is for $15 you get a lot of entertainment.”

Although missing Bat N' Rouge could -- literally -- be a crying shame, it's not the only opportunity to have fun and support the Arcata Ridge Trail project.

The Arcata Ridge Trail Festival, two days of bicycle races and much more, is set for Oct. 8 in the Arcata Community Forest and Oct. 9 in Willow Creek, Cohune said. For more information, visit www.ridgetrailfestival.wordpress.com.

If all that jam-packed frivolity is a little too much, but one is harboring support for the Arcata Trail Ridge project, donations may be made to the Arcata Forest Fund through the Humboldt Area Foundation's website, www.hafoundation.org/donations/donation.php. Or simply make out a check to the Arcata Forest Fund and send it to Arcata Forest Fund, c/o Humboldt Area Foundation, 373 Indianola Road, Bayside 95524.

The Humboldt Trails Council is your connection

to people who are connecting trails!

Arcata  Ridge Trail

Project Summary

The City of Arcata has an opportunity to secure critical linkages in a larger regional four-mile long trail concept known as the Arcata Ridge Route Trail. The Arcata Ridge route would  go from West End Road to Buttermilk Lane and traverse the Sunny Brae Forest and Arcata Community Forest thus spanning the City limits from north to south  within scenic redwood forested hillsides.

Fundraising is underway, including the smash hit Bat N’ Rouge, back again this Sept. 8 at the Arcata Ball Park! Find out how you can get involved.


Download full sized PDF 1.9MBArcata_Ridge_Trail_files/Proposed%20ridge%20trail%20system_9-24-2010.pdf

Arcata gets $2 million to add 114 acres to Sunny Brae forest; City working to purchase 22 more acres of property


Jessica Cejnar     The Times-Standard    09/20/2011

Two state grants totaling more than $2 million are allowing Arcata to expand Sunny Brae Forest, protecting the headwaters of Jacoby Creek, Gannon Slough and Beith Creek from potential development, according to city environmental officials.

The California Wildlife Conservation Board awarded Arcata about $1.95 million Tuesday that will be used toward the purchase price of a 114 acre piece of land known as the Morris Property, said Mark Andre, Arcata's director of environmental services. Another grant of $350,000 from the California Department of Transportation will also be used to purchase the Morris Property. The property is currently owned by Bob and Carol Morris.

The city is also in the process of applying for state funding to purchase another 22 acres immediately adjacent to the Morris Property owned by George and Mary Schmidbauer, Andre said. The city hopes to receive that funding in November.

The Morris Property is currently zoned residential, Andre said. By purchasing the land rather than seeing it be used for houses and estates in the future, the city will maintain the forest habitat in perpetuity, he said.

”We'll grow this forest and do necessary restoration there, and it'll be accessible to the public at some point,” Andre said, adding that a portion of the Arcata Ridge Trail runs through that property. “We're also grateful and thankful to Bob and Carol Morris for working with the city on this.”

Acquiring the original 175 acres that made up the Sunny Brae Forest started back in 2000 when residents in the area were concerned about plans to log that area, said 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who lives in Sunny Brae. Even though the community wasn't opposed to logging, residents were worried about noise issues, hours of operations and log trucks traveling up and down Buttermilk Lane. When the owners of that property decided to sell the land to Arcata, the Sunny Brae-Arcata Neighborhood Alliance helped raise $100,000 toward the purchase, Lovelace said.

When the group began working with Arcata to purchase the original Sunny Brae Forest property, Lovelace said, its members were also interested in some of the other parcels, including the Morris Property. According to him, the group felt that adding those properties to Sunny Brae Forest would connect it well to the Arcata Community Forest so hikers could travel from one end to the other.

”The Morris property is a real key to making the Sunny Brae Forest much more manageable,” Lovelace said, adding that it's the city's largest forest acquisition on the southern side of Fickle Hill Road. “It's been really neat that a vision of joining it to the Arcata Community Forest is moving ahead at such a great pace.”

Developing a trail system for the Sunny Brae Forest, which is currently 200 acres, is challenging, Andre said. There is a lot of demand for mountain bike, hiking and equestrian trails. Acquiring the Morris and Schmidbauer properties will provide a connection to Fickle Hill Road and also help create a loop system for its trails, he said.

Purchasing the Morris Property will also allow Arcata to gain control of the headwaters of Jacoby Creek, Gannon Slough and Beith Creek, all of which drain into Humboldt Bay, Andre said. Jacoby Creek flows through a 600-acre parcel of land the city is restoring as part of its Baylands project just before it drains into the bay. Maintaining the headwaters in a forested condition will contribute to habitat protection and flood control downstream as well as improve watershed and water quality values and create a highly productive working forest land, he said.

The Arcata Community Forest is currently 2,200 acres. Andre said that in addition to working to acquire the Morris and Schmidbauer properties, the city is working to conclude an acquisition from Green Diamond Resource Co. at the north end of the Arcata Ridge Trail. The city is also working on purchasing a 2-acre piece of property adjacent to the Sunny Brae Forest, he said.

Andre also added that Trish Strickland with the Trust for Public Land has been assisting the city. “They have done an extraordinaly amount of work to help these projects come to fruition,” he said.

Strickland was not available for comment.

Arcata's grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board is part of $43.6 million that the board earmarked to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. The funds are being used for 19 projects including Arcata's. The wildlife conservation board also awarded a grant to Ducks Unlimited Inc. for wetland restoration to the Salt River Unit of the Eel River Wildlife Area.

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The $262,000 purchase was made possible by a $100,000 grant from the State Coastal Conservancy, $100,000 from the Janes Creek Trust Fund authorized by the California Department of Fish and Game, $10,000 from the Save the Redwoods League, $7,500 from Ducks Unlimited and local fundraising efforts including: $10,000 from the Eureka Sisters for Perpetual Indulgence, $9,500 from the Humboldt Area Foundation (Arcata Forest Fund individual and community group fundraising), $2,000 from the Redwood Region Audubon Society, $2,000 from the Northern California Horsemen Association and $500 from the Humboldt Trails Council.

“The City of Arcata is very pleased to be in partnership with state agencies, non-profits and community groups on this important conservation effort," said Mark Andre, the City of Arcata Environmental Services Director. "The opportunity to acquire this was a top community open-space priority. This acquisition protects 1/2 mile of riparian habitat along Janes Creek, improves and enhances flood control facilities, allows public access to the northern portion of the Arcata Ridge Trail and improves administrative access to the Arcata Community Forest. It is a significant milestone in the eventual completion of the more than 4-mile long trail as well as creating an open space and habitat protection corridor.”

“We greatly appreciate Green Diamond Resource Company’s willingness to make this land available to provide open space for the community and appreciate Green Diamond’s ongoing positive relationship with the City of Arcata," said Arcata Mayor Michael Winkler. For information about Arcata’s forestry and open space programs, visit www.cityofarcata.org/departments/environmental-services, call (707) 822-8184 or email eservices@cityofarcata.org.

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