By Hilary Corrigan
Triplicate staff writer
Planning the future of the Mill Creek Addition, the newest part of Redwood National and State Parks, could start in the spring or summer.
The state parks section will seek to contract a planning firm and draft a guide for the resource.
"The first step is to get a variety of ideas," said park interpreter Rick Nolan of the process that could take up to two years. "The one thing it has going for it is it's a blank slate."
In 2002, Redwood National and State Parks added the 25,000-acre parcel that once hosted old growth redwoods. The nonprofit Save the Redwoods League donated the land to the state park after buying it from Stimson Lumber Co.
But the attraction of the former timber lands that show the huge stumps of logged old growth redwoods remains questionable as visitors seek out the giant trees and trails that wind among them.
"For people outside of the area, we'll have to see," Nolan said. "What the appeal of Mill Creek will be over time."
The site also hosts about 350 miles of old logging roads. Restoration and management steps will likely mirror those underway at Redwood Creek that joined the park system in 1978.
Nolan pointed to work there that has so far restored about half of the 415 miles of roads, moving dirt back into the gravelly stretches to stabilize habitat and replace soil that absorbs runoff water and blocks pollutants from streams and salmon.
Redwood planting in that section will also likely serve as a model for Mill Creek a project to restore an old growth redwood forests that will take hundreds of years.
Such work at Mill Creek will likely interest scientists, Nolan said. And the resource has already attracted environmental group leaders who have begun running tours to watch salmon spawning in Mill Creek and plan to host ecology and history sessions in the summer.
The park will not likely be fully operational and open to the public for several years, though, Nolan said.
The planning stages that will soon begin aims to collect ideas from the public for its use.
"It's always a fun process. You're setting the course for that property," Nolan said.