Future Sonoma County park northeast of Santa Rosa enlarged with new purchase

Future Sonoma County park northeast of Santa Rosa enlarged with new purchase

June 5, 2018

Posted in: News Articles

Future Sonoma County park northeast of Santa Rosa enlarged with new purchase

J.D. MORRIS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | June 5, 2018

Susan Gorin stood on a forested slope recently overlooking a meadow in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa and appreciated a view she hopes will be enjoyed by generations of local residents when the land one day becomes a new regional park.

Blackened tree trunks and other scars left nearly eight months ago by the Tubbs fire were all around. Yet even on a damp, gray day, carpets of wildflowers and green grass reflected a revival that is well underway here off Mark West Springs Road.

“Like many of our future parks, it will be a laboratory on fire recovery,” said Gorin, the Sonoma County supervisor who represents the area. “It is gratifying to see how much of the park is still here — the trees and the beauty and the meadows are recovering, and the wildflowers are growing.”

Late last month, Gorin and her fellow supervisors authorized spending up to $5.35 million in county open space funds to buy the 276-acre property from the family of John and Martha McCullough, who had lived there since the 1970s. Grant funds could cover about half the purchase by the county’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

The McCullough property and an adjacent 822 acres already set aside by the county are one day planned to become part of the Mark West Creek Regional Park and Open Space Preserve.

County officials hope to purchase two additional properties in the area later this year, paving the way for a nearly 1,200-acre park just a short drive from Santa Rosa city limits. As with similar park projects in the past, the open space district will transfer the properties to the county’s Regional Parks department once all the purchases are complete.

“This will be, in my opinion, the crown jewel in the Regional Parks system,” said Bill Keene, general manager of the open space district. “All these mature oaks are up there, and then you get this window view of Mount St. Helena. And then on the other side, you get views of the entire Santa Rosa Plain looking west towards the ocean. The vistas on that property are just unbelievable.”

At lower elevations of the future park, including the meadow where Gorin and open space staff members gathered in late May, visitors might imagine they are far from the city, Keene said.

“You could be 100 miles away,” he said. “People are going to fall in love with that property.”

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