Northern California’s Great Redwood Trail Gets off to a Fast Start

The Great Redwood Trail got a big kickstart last week in Ukiah, when a spillover crowd of trail advocates and local agencies from all over the North Coast gathered for the first time to begin the Trail’s master planning process.

The Trail, envisioned by Sen. McGuire’s landmark law SB 1029, turns the crumbling 300-mile North Coast railroad line into the Great Redwood Trail. 

“The Great Redwood Trail will be a world class destination for hikers, cyclists and nature lovers here at home and from across the globe. Stretching from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, the Trail will encompass 300 miles of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet,” Senator Mike McGuire said.

The project will transform a train track through the beautiful and diverse North Coast into the Great Redwood Trail. The trail will begin on the north side of the San Francisco Bay and will go through Napa’s wine country before heading up to the Redwood forest area. It will continue along the banks of the Russian and Eel Rivers and on up the the panoramic Humboldt Bay.

A map shows the proposed Great redwood Trail

Trail advocates and planners from Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties participated in this four-hour initial meeting, which covered all aspects of the Trail. The North Coast Rail Authority, which currently owns the Right of Way, also participated in today’s initial planning session. McGuire’s law changed their mandate from freight rail to focusing on launching the Great Redwood Trail project.

“An enormous amount of effort from thousands of folks from all over Northern California went into the Legislation last year, and we were thrilled to see it signed into law,” McGuire said of SB 1029. “Now the real work of the Trail begins. Today’s meeting was just the beginning. Later this spring and into the summer, we will be hosting two Town Hall Meetings with the community. These important gatherings will advance critical conversations, review ideas, receive input from neighbors and residents, and talk about how the Great Redwood Trail proposal will transform into a project that will benefit generations of residents.”

While the public process advances, under SB 1029, the California Department of Finance is conducting a thorough audit of the NCRA finances and the Department of Natural Resources is examining potential trail alignment, trail construction, long-term management costs, terrain suitability, rail banking potential, property easements and the possible governance structure of the trail. Once these studies are complete, Senator McGuire will advance legislation to enact the recommendations of the Departments.

California outdoor recreation is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Golden State’s economy. It generates over $92 billion a year here in California, is responsible for nearly 700,000 jobs with over $30 billion in wages, and brings over $6 billion in tax revenues back to state and local communities.

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