Who wants to do what on 8,500 acres?
Cemex Redwoods Access
This article originally appeared in our newsletter, Landmarks, Fall 2013
The 8,500 acres formerly owned by CEMEX is virtually surrounded by protected lands. Coast Dairies adjoins it on the ocean side. Wilder Ranch State Park is a stone’s throw away to the south, Henry Cowell’s Fall Creek unit is across the road to the east, and Big Basin State Park lies temptingly close to the north. With a few gaps here and there it is the centerpiece of a 27,000-acre block of wild and protected lands. No wonder so many of people are itching to get out on it!
That day, when the gates are unlocked to the public for the first time in history, is getting closer. This fall the Land Trust launched a two-year planning process for public access to this natural jewel. Our Conservation Director, Bryan Largay, is coordinating this work with our partners. Over the next six months or so we will meet with stakeholders, hold community meetings, and solicit input online. Details on our outreach efforts will be on our website.
This fall we are seeking early input on what types of access the community wants on these 8,500 acres. We are meeting with a wide variety of potential trail-user groups, including hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. We are also meeting with neighbors, educators, and public safety staff – anyone interested in what happens on this massive property that has never before been open to public use.
We are also hosting a public survey on our website and hosting small in-person meetings with specific stakeholder groups. We will host a community meeting in the spring, a follow-up on the initial public meeting held in Davenport in May of 2012. More than 160 people attended that meeting, which gives you some idea of how many people care about what happens – and what doesn’t happen – on this land.
Draft Plan and More Input
The Land Trust has hired a consultant to help with this outreach and to prepare reports on the opportunities for – and the constraints on – public access. The property’s 70 miles of roads and potential connections through Coast Dairies to the coast are an obvious opportunity. The impact of traffic, the sensitivity of the habitat, security and safety issues, and cost are some of the constraints we will be studying.
Our consultants, along with our CEMEX Conservation Partners will take all this input and develop a draft plan that will include: detailed maps, plans for recreational and educational use, and research on the property. We will also look at cost and funding projections, and outline implementation steps. This draft plan will be presented at a second community meeting next summer and finalized by the partners afterwards.
Getting it Done
All this will take at least a year and then we anticipate there is another year of work getting permits (which are required for public access), going through environmental review, and getting ready for the day when the gates are open and people can actually get out on this land. Without knowing the details, we anticipate that implementation will come in phases, with the cheapest forms of access (walking on the 70 miles of roads) coming first and more expensive forms coming later, as funding is secured.
In other words, it will take time, but we are working on it, step by step – so that you will one day, in the not too distant future, take your first steps on this land you have helped protect.