By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
The Save-the-Redwoods League stands to gain two more chunks of government funding next week, putting it in reach of purchasing the Mill Creek area south of Crescent City.
According to Kate Anderton, the leagues executive director, $5 million is expected to come from the Coastal Conservancy on Tuesday and Proposition 13 salmon habitat bond funds will provide $7.5 million.
Theres been a lot of support for this because of the salmon habitat it provides. Its a great salmon fishery, said Anderton.
The Coastal Conservancy money was set aside in the state budget signed last month for salmon habitat projects. The conservancy will decide next week whether the Mill Creek project is the best use of that money.
The Proposition 13 salmon habitat bond funds were approved by both the state Senate and Assembly but still needs an OK from Gov. Gray Davis.
Anderton said shes confident the two chunks of money will come through, bringing the total fund to $52.5 million, just shy of the $60 million purchase price.
The 25,000-acre parcel, currently owned by Stimson Lumber Company, ultimately will be donated to the state and national park system.
Save the Redwoods League, a San Francisco-based preservation group, has already gathered $40 million for the purchase. Of that amount, $25 million came from state and federal government agencies.
Mill Creek is widely considered the best tributary of the Smith River watershed for coho salmon. It also hosts healthy runs of chinook salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout.
The Stimson Lumber Company is credited for maintaining that tributary. Theyve been commended for their efforts by the California Department of Fish and Game and Redwood National and State Park officials.
To get to the $60 million mark, Anderton said the league is working with the Fish and Wildlife Service and some private foundations.