Sonoma County takes another major step toward dream of a Mark West Creek park
Derek Moore | The Press Democrat | December 11, 2016
Plans for a regional park in the Mark West Creek area northeast of Santa Rosa received another major boost last week with county officials authorizing the $2.5 million purchase of forested property situated at the heart of the envisioned outdoor playground.
The 47-acre property, south of the Mark West Event Center along Cresta Road, is between two larger county-owned properties that make up the planned 1,100-acre park off Porter Creek Road.
The site is only a 10-minute drive from Larkfield. But it feels much farther away when a visitor stands along the banks of Mill Creek, a cold rain falling across the valley of redwoods and firs.
Caryl Hart, the county’s regional parks director, said a public park in the Mark West Creek area would offer an outdoor recreational experience unlike any other in the county, with opportunities for hiking, biking and horseback riding through forested valleys and alongside streams supporting coho salmon.
“It’s really spectacular,” she said.
Prior to this week, the county had spent $14.7 million to acquire 822 acres for the park’s creation.
On Tuesday, county supervisors approved spending an additional $2.5 million to purchase the 47-acre parcel owned by Wayne and Maureen Wendle.
“Ultimately, my wife and I would rather see these lands be used as a park, than for future development,” Wayne Wendle said Friday.
The acquisition of the 47-acre parcel is critical on a number of fronts, including protecting the sensitive landscape and providing safe public access to the envisioned Mark West Creek Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, said Bill Keene, general manager of the county’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.