‘A spectacular landscape’ — Vast Redwood Coast ranch to become public nature preserve

By Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2021

“[A 26,600-acre ranch with 16 miles of riverfront and two herds of Roosevelt elk] on the Eel River, which spans both Mendocino and Trinity counties, will go to a conservation group. The Wildlands Conservancy closed escrow on the tract [on November 16] and plans to turn this mostly untamed stretch of mountains and valleys into a preserve open to the public.

“The property is at the heart of [Eel River Canyon] and at the center of the organization’s long-term goal of protecting and providing access to much of the Eel River’s 196-mile run — from the Mendocino National Forest to the Humboldt County coast. The Witter plot, once known as Lone Pine Ranch and set to be renamed the Eel River Canyon Preserve, is the group’s fifth and largest acquisition along the river.

“Across the river was another selling point for the Wildlands Conservancy and its supporters: the out-of-service Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The ranch acquisition is expected to advance efforts to turn the lengthy rail line into a public path for hiking and biking. The project would be part of the Great Redwood Trail, a multi-use path in the works by a coalition of support groups and local lawmakers, running from from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay.

“The [Wildlands Conservancy], based in San Bernardino County, obtained the $25 million [to purchase the Eel River ranch property] from a recent $10 million state budget appropriation, state grants, the Center for Biological Diversity and a Packard Foundation loan through the national nonprofit Conservation Fund. Fundraising efforts continue to repay the $8 million debt.”

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