We are so close we can almost smell the dust on the Great Redwood Trail, but the North Coast Railroad Authority is stuck in the past, fighting for rails over trails.
For more than a decade now, FOER has been holding the NCRA’s feet to the fire for its refusal to clean up its mess or comply with California environmental law. We hate to brag, but we have been absolutely crushing them in both the courts and the statehouse. We won in the California Supreme Court in 2017. This spring, the US Supreme Court prudently declined to hear a challenge of that victory. Also this year, State Senator Mike McGuire introduced, and passed, a bill that will dissolve the NCRA and set the stage for clean-up of the right-of-way and creation of the 300-mile-long Great Redwood Trail.
The agency has been given a very generous two-years to wrap up its business, get the railbanking process going, and then get out of the way. And yet, its leadership is stubbornly refusing to do the right thing, choosing instead to engage in petty rear-guard fights in a battle it has already clearly lost.
From continuing to push rails WITH trails (which could triple the costs over rails TO trails) to plowing ahead with unnecessary (and expensive) court proceedings, the NCRA has proven itself incapable of changing course. Thus, 2019 will of necessity see a second bill (and budget) to move the Great Redwood Trail forward without the NCRA and a continuance of our final court proceedings for rulings on the merits.
We’re confident that we will ultimately achieve our goal of transforming the right-of-way into a world-class sustainable transportation and recreation asset. However, we still have a lot of work to do to remove the obstacles (AKA the NCRA), craft an ecologically-appropriate plan, and fund and implement it. In reality, it will be years before any of us get the gift of riding the Great Redwood Trail through the Eel River canyon.
But the wait will be worth it. The FOER team is fully committed to making this dream a reality. And we need your support to see it through.
Thank you for partnering with us, and happy holidays!
Stephanie Tidwell, Executive Director
Friends of the Eel River
P.O. Box 4945
Arcata, CA 95518
Office: (707) 798-6345
Mobile: (415) 747-5458
P.S. There are many, many moving pieces for making such a big pivot happen – from supporting policy to donating to being part of a team helping plan and build specific trail segments. Please get in touch if you’d like to get more involved in implementing the Great Redwood Trail vision.