Humboldt County supervisors get final update on McKay Tract Community Forest: Government, timber representatives to hold public meeting

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is set to hear a final update on the proposed 1,000-acre McKay Tract Community Forest at its Tuesday meeting before voting to acquire funds to purchase the land on April 15.

First District Supervisor and Board Chairman Rex Bohn, who sits on the McKay Tract Community Forest board subcommittee, said benefits of purchasing the property from the Green Diamond Co. outweigh the costs.

"It's a lifelong asset for the county, and it will be a good legacy to pass on to our kids," Bohn said.

The proposal envisions the forest as an economically self-sustaining working forest which will include opportunities for public access, watershed and resource protection, as well as timber harvesting.

"Knowing that trails are so important to the residents of this county, this is a great opportunity to explore to its fullest potential," Bohn said.

Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said the first phase of the project -- which would acquire 1,002 acres of the nearly 7,600 acres of land located southeast of Eureka -- has a price tag of over $6 million.

"We'll have to make sure that we can finance it and handle the interim operations before it will start generating revenue," Lovelace said.

To offset these costs, the county has acquired funding through government agencies and related sources. In May, the board will vote to approve about $4.5 million from the California Wildlife Conservation Board that will go toward the purchasing price.

National non-profit The Trust for Public Land has been working with Green Diamond Co. to acquire these funds, and recently announced that it will allocate $125,000 to aid with operational costs once the land is acquired.

Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said these startup costs -- such as clearing roadways, erosion control and trail building to make the park accessible and safe -- will "be a challenge," but said the $125,000 provides greater insight.

"For The Trust for Public Land to support the project this way is really showing that they believe in it," Fennell said. "This is a huge project. If we're looking at the long run, it will be hugely beneficial to the county."

Lovelace said making the forest financially self-sustaining will be a challenge, and that the county should be looking to other sources of revenue to offset more spending from the county's general fund.

"No one doubts that this piece of land can grow timber and provide all of the multiple uses that we're talking about," he said. "It just becomes a question of when the harvest potential will start to provide a revenue stream for erosion control, trail building, patrolling."

The Trust for Public Land and Green Diamond Co. will be holding a public meeting at the Redwood Acres Turf Club Monday at 6 p.m. to give people a chance to comment on the project.

Though the project has a long way to go before the forest will be open to the public, Bohn said community support is crucial.

"We're going to have to work to make it work," Bohn said.

If you go:

What: McKay Tract Community Forest public meeting

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Where: Redwood Acres Turf Club, 3750 Harris St., Eureka

If you go:

What: Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Supervisors' chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St., Eureka

The full agenda can be viewed online at

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or Follow him on