115,000 acres adjacent to Redwood NP offered
On Monday, Green Diamond Resource Company went public with a proposal for a 10,500-acre conservation easement on its land adjacent to Redwood National Park that would forever protect the property from development or subdivisions. The proposal would also allow the national park to build a public trail along Redwood Creek through Green Diamond land.
"This is a unique public-private partnership that will limit development and provide future public access along Redwood Creek, while allowing ongoing management of the adjacent forest," said Neal Ewald, VP and General Manager of Green Diamond in a press release issued Monday.
The proposed 10,500-acre easement would be on Green Diamond land upstream from Redwood National Park and along Bald Hills Road, including several miles of main stem Redwood Creek and the Panther, Garrett and Coyote Creek drainages, according to the release.
The area covered by the easement would continue to be managed for timber production by Green Diamond, which manages almost 400,000 acres of timber land in Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
Redwood National Park acting superintendent Dave Roemer said one of the key benefits that the easement would provide for Redwood park "is protecting the watershed of Redwood Creek."
By preventing development of subdivisions along Redwood Creek, the easement will create a "permanent riparian corridor," providing shade to lower creek temperatures, allowing more wood to naturally fall in creeks to make deep pools and in-stream habitat - all beneficial for salmon and steelhead, Roemer said.
Any future trail along Redwood Creek would be subject to the availability of national park funding and would have to first undergo a public scoping process, Roemer said.
"We've looked at the area and feel that a trail is feasible, it could be done and it may be very desirable to do that," Roemer said.
Redwood National Park officials were receptive about the proposal when first approached late last summer by Green Diamond and the Trust for Public Land, a conservation group brokering the easement, Roemer said.
"This will provide protection of the Redwood Creek ecosystem from development, including the old-growth located downstream, while promoting well managed forests that support economic stability in Humboldt County," said John Bernstein from The Trust for Public Land, in the press release.
"We appreciate The Trust for Public Land and Green Diamond's forward-looking approach for long-term protection to Park resources and providing potential future trail access to a unique portion of the drainage," Roemer wrote in the press release.
Redwood National Park already works closely with Green Diamond for all timber harvest plans adjacent to the park, Roemer said, and the two have a "good cooperative relationship."
Green Diamond officials said the idea for the easement came from the Trust for Public Land, which has been working with Green Diamond on other easement projects recently. Although the proposal is still in its infancy, Green Diamond decided to make it public at this time because they are looking for support and will be presenting the plan today to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.
"This is an exciting opportunity and a wonderful example of a timber company working with the National Park for the benefit of our natural resources and the community," said Humboldt County Supervisor Ryan Sundberg in the release.
Redwood National Park will be applying for funding for the easement this spring from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funds public lands acquisition projects using fees paid by energy companies for offshore drilling (not taxpayer dollars).
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