McK may acquire community forest

From the Jan. 11, 2012 edition of the McK Press

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

McKinleyville may get its own community forest, complete with old growth Sitka spruce, trails and ocean views.
The McKinleyville Community Services District has applied for state grant funds to purchase the property, located adjacent to the Beau Pre Heights subdivision on the hillside east of the Beau Pre Golf Course in McKinleyville.
“It’s awesome,” said MCSD Parks and Recreation Director Jason Sehon about the forest. There are towering old-growth Sitka spruce, existing trails, ocean views, a wetland and wildlife.
The property is owned by Danco, the developer of the Beau Pre subdivision. According to Sehon, the Department of Fish and Game is requiring that Danco preserve the 60-acre site, which is off limits to housing development and logging.
The MCSD has applied for a grant to purchase the forest through the state’s Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, better known as Prop. 84. The $5.388 billion bond fund includes $500 million for parks and nature education.
The only hitch with the MCSD’s grant application, Sehon noted, is that the district also applied for a Prop. 84 grant to purchase park property near School Road and Washington Avenue in McKinleyville (See story, page 1). That grant may get a higher ranking by the state, making the success of the forest grant application uncertain.
However, even if this grant application is unsuccessful, the district may still be able to acquire the property by negotiating with Danco for a possible donation.
If the MCSD does acquire the forest, it won’t be able to selectively log it like the City of Arcata does with the Arcata Community Forest. According to the City of Arcata’s website, the Arcata Community Forest is comprised of 2,134 acres. Arcata has a forest management plan which allows limited, eco-groovy logging.
“Timber harvest revenue funds forest operations, habitat restoration and management of the forest for recreational uses,” states the city’s website.
If McKinleyville obtains the Beau Pre forest, the MCSD would probably form an open space maintenance zone. The 80 parcels in the adjacent Beau Pre Heights subdivision, which has yet to be developed, would be assessed a monthly fee on their water bills. That money would be used by the MCSD to maintain the trails and pick up trash.
Access to the forest would most likely be from Norton Road. A small parking lot would be developed, although the exact details have yet to be worked out.

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