Humboldt County acquires 1000 acres for Community Forest

Humboldt County looks to turn 1000 acres of Green Diamond logging land into a multi-use community forest

1000 acres of Green Diamond logging land could turn into a multi-use community forest

Eureka will soon have its own version of Arcata’s established community park in the form of the McKay Community Forest. An initiative led by Deputy Director of Humboldt Public Works, Hank Seemann, looks to develop 1,000 acres of forest acquired from Green Diamond logging company into a multi-use community forest with trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.

Seemann said that Green Diamond initiated the land transfer after determining that some of its own property could be put to better use serving the community. The county is also looking to acquire an additional 197 acres from Green Diamond southwest of the current forest. Locals have been exploring the McKay tract for decades, there is currently a network of vague, carved-out single tracks running through the park.

“A lot of those trails were not planned, so they may or may not be in appropriate locations or connect to access points,” Seemann said. “One of our goals with this trail plan was to link trails to proper access points so we’re not having impacts on adjacent neighborhoods.”

On Jan. 30 the county released a draft trail plan for the McKay Community Forest. The planned trail network would contain 27 miles of trails and access roads and 1.5 miles of handicapped-accessible trail, with an additional 0.7 miles of improved access trail. The next month the county collected input from community members on what they’d like to see in their community forest.

“It will probably take the McKay Forest 10 to 20 years to resemble today’s Arcata Community Forest.”

Hank Seemann

“We received approximately 90 comments, with a large voice expressed from the mountain bike community,” Seemann said. “This group mostly was appreciative of new mountain biking trails near Eureka and offered to assist with further trail design and construction.”

Some residents living near access points to the forest were concerned that there would be increased traffic in their neighborhoods, but the proposed plan looks to phase in other access points as properties adjacent to the forest get subdivided in coming years.

“It will probably take the McKay Forest 10 to 20 years to resemble today’s Arcata Community Forest,” Seemann said. “We’re just in the infancy of figuring out the property and coordinating with community groups to ensure a robust development.”

The proposed plan includes 27 miles of trails total with 1.5 miles being handicap accessible. | Map courtesy of

Sean Tetrault owns Revolution Bikes and has been exploring the McKay tract since he was a kid attending Winship Junior High in Eureka. He says that after the county started its process of development he sees more use than ever before.

“People are getting curious and walking in,” Tetrault said. “I still primarily see mountain bikers out there myself, once you get distanced from the developed areas.”

For the most part, the unsanctioned trails running through the McKay tract are raw skid lines and singletracks, occasionally cleaned up by those who Tetrault affectionately dubs “Trail Gnomes.”

“This project is going to give mountain bikers better options. Mountain bike specific routes are included in the plan, which is a step beyond what we’ve seen in the Arcata Community Forest,” Tetrault said. “For people that are nervous about being on an unauthorized route, this will make it easier. I think it will grow mountain biking, honestly.”

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  1. Henchman Of Justice Henchman Of Justice Friday, March 29, 2019

    90 folks is all?

    Good gawd, does the plan estimate daily users?

    Tetrault – yes, as a seller of bikes and parts, he is thrilled to support.

    How much in maintenance and security costs? Hidden trail cams? Bathrooms? Garbage cans? Parking lots?

    Note to self – in order to get the government to spend a lot of money on what you want all you need to do is get 89 other people to support it… no need for city-wide Vote or County Wide vote that would include thousands tens of thousands… you only need to include those who will get involved to put their two cents in at some board meeting… it’s for the good of 90 people in the community plus planning staff and Consultants…

    … it sure feels weird though because Humboldt County is all of a sudden back into cutting trees down for development… but it’s a hippie project not a contractor’s project so there you go no protests… we’re blocking the road or suing Caltrans a la Richardson Grove… still curious though as to how many trees will be cut because of the Bay Trail eucalyptus trees and the arguments that used safety health and well-being as a reasons to get rid of trees… each Trail should have a clear Skyline and set back off the trail such that no wind-blown branches can hit any user of the trails… but then again they’re not non-native ornamental tree so… widow-makers Galore…

    … the Saving Grace is green diamond giving the land away essentially because they recognized the land had already been partially developed and that Timber production in that zone would not have been effective…

    Costs divided by 90 folks + staff…very high user costs!

  2. Jeffrey Lytle Jeffrey Lytle Friday, March 29, 2019

    The initiative is not an initiative and it’s not being led by anyone, it’s being monitored as part of a process by the person who’s in charge at this point to do the processing and stewarding… this Forest plan idea was incepted long before Hank Seemann was employed with Humboldt County Public Works…however, he is doing very well at what he does (less the HBT eucalyptus tree bs that has been a constant roody poo battle for decades)

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