175 Acres Added to CA’s Oldest Community Forest

The Trust for Public Land and the City of Arcata announced today the addition of 175 acres to the Arcata Community Forest, southeast of downtown Arcata. The Sunny Brae property was purchased from the Emmerson family, whose roots in Humboldt County date back to the start of their company, Sierra Pacific Industries. This addition will bring the Community Forest’s total acreage to 800 acres, and will eventually add more than four miles of roads and trails for use by the areas joggers, hikers, bicyclists and equestrians.

“We wouldn’t be here today if not for the progressive vision many local, state, and federal partners shared for this beautiful property. Because of the patience of the Emmerson family and the steadfastness of the community, this wonderful resource will be enjoyed by the public for generations to come,” said Reed Holderman, executive director of The Trust for Public Land-California.

The Emmerson family has a long history in Arcata. Red Emmerson, current chairman of Sierra Pacific Industries, built his first sawmill there in 1952. Although the family now owns 1.5 million acres of land in California, they maintain a connection to the town where it all began.

“Our family has deep roots in Humboldt County, so we were glad to work with the City of Arcata and TPL to make the Sunny Brae forest accessible to all,” said Mark Emmerson, Chief Financial Officer of Sierra Pacific Industries.

“Today is a day for this community to be very proud,” said Arcata Mayor Michael Machi. “Arcatans have united behind a common goal, and today we have come together to celebrate the creation of a lasting legacy for our children.”

The community’s effort to preserve the Sunny Brae forest spanned more than six years. Neighbors first came together in 2000 and formed the Sunny Brae-Arcata Neighborhood Alliance (SANA) in response to their shared concern for the forest. Under the leadership of director Mark Lovelace, SANA embarked on an ambitious campaign to raise $100,000 from the local community, which was used to leverage state and federal funds. SANA reached their goal on October 27th with a final donation of just 47? that a child had given from her piggy bank.

Said Mark Lovelace, “This project has been a real grass-roots community effort from the start. It has taken hundreds of people giving their time, money, or support in whatever way they could to make it happen. It seems fitting, then, that smallest donation from a child’s piggy bank should put us over the top and make our goal a reality.”

Funding for the purchase came in part from the USDA Forest Legacy Program, a collaboration among the Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the California State Wildlife Conservation Board. Additional funds were provided by the California Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Program, State Coastal Conservancy, CalTrans Environmental Enhancement Mitigation Program, the City of Arcata, Save the Redwoods League, and the Sunny Brae-Arcata Neighborhood Alliance.

“This 175-acre addition to the Arcata Community Forest will greatly improve the recreational opportunities for residents of the surrounding area, and ensure that generations to come enjoy all that our beautiful forests offer,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “The USDA’s Forest Legacy Program was created to protect valuable wilderness land, and the program funds I helped to secure will do just that for the Sunny Brae forest property.”

“This addition to the Arcata Community Forest is a big win for the community,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “The project is a great example of Arcata’s continuous commitment to conservation and outdoor recreation. I am glad I was able to help secure funding for the project, and I thank the community leaders for their tireless effort to make Arcata an even better place to live.”

In addition to its scenic and recreational value, Arcata Community Forest helps protect the area’s water supply. It contains the headwaters of urban streams that flow into Humboldt Bay and the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sunny Brae addition contains over 2.5 miles of waterways, including the headwaters of both Beith Creek and Grotzman Creek, which are part of the Jacob Creek Watershed, a crucial water quality barometer for Humboldt Bay.

The Trust for Public Land is a national land conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people as parks, greenways, wilderness areas and natural, historic and cultural resources for future generations. Founded in 1972, TPL has protected more than 2 million acres nationwide. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.