Public will get first look at Mill Creek plan

September 02, 2002 12:00 am

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

A plan for how to allow public access to the new Mill Creek section of Redwood State Parks will be presented to the public Sept. 12.

The document, called the Interim Management Recommendations, will also serve as a plan for how the parks should protect and preserve its latest 40-square-mile addition.

"There's enough stuff in here to last us 100 years," said Redwood State Parks Superintendent Rick Sermon.

Packed with scientific analyses about current erosion problems, fire-fuel danger areas and wildlife habitat, Sermon said the document allows the park service to begin protecting the resources of the area now.

Without the Interim Management Recommendations, Sermon said nothing could be done on the new property until a formal amendment is made to the state parks' 1999 general plan.

It was created by Stillwater Sciences, an Arcata-based firm hired by Save-the-Redwoods League. It was the League and the state Coastal Conservancy that funded the creation of the document.

A major focus in the document is the 255-mile network of roads winding through the 25,000-acre property.

Public access to the area via those roads has also been a major focus of Del Norte County citizens.

A fear has been expressed by some local residents that gates would go up and access would be cut off by the parks now that it has ownership of the land.

And for the present time, that fear has been realized.

The interim plan recommends that only 2.5 miles of the paved Hamilton Road, connecting Highway 101 to the old Stimson Lumber Company Mill, be accessible.

"Gates or other movable barriers should be installed to restrict public vehicle access to all other primary and secondary roads," reads the report.

Roads beyond the old mill site will remain closed to the public until they are rehabilitated and storm-proofed, which may take several years.

The plan also suggests permanently decommissioning 65 miles of the road system due to heavy erosion and sediment risks to the streams the roads run across.

Other major issues discussed in the recommendations included developing outdoor education facilities for the Del Norte County Unified School District and research facilities for fish and wildlife biologists.

Many endangered and threatened animal, fish and plant species reside within the property.

Superintendent Sermon said the Interim Management Recommendations document will likely be incorporated, in its current form, into the state parks' general plan amendment. That process will take about two years, he said.

The public will be able to ask questions about the document and review its contents between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 at the Washington Boulevard Fire Hall.

Copies of the complete document with maps and data tables are available at the Del Norte County Library, Redwoods National and State Parks offices, the College of the Redwoods library (Del Norte campus) and in the Del Norte County administrative office at the corner of Ninth and H streets.

The plan can also be viewed on the Internet by accessing the Stillwater Sciences Web site: www.stillwatersci.com/MillCreek/.