Last month the State published their Assessment of the North Coast Railroad Authority and Viability of the Great Redwood Trail. This hundred-page legislative report was developed by a multi-agency task force including representatives from CalTrans, State Parks, the Natural Resources Agency, Department of Finance, and Department of General Services.
This report contains no big surprises, just a detailed analysis of the work to be done in settling the NCRA’s debts, shutting down the agency, and moving forward with the Great Redwood Trail. There are notably high cost estimates for trail development, which are due to the lack of thorough analysis on how to mitigate the environmental harms from the railroad. Once a successor agency is established, they can begin the work of developing a trail master plan and evaluate the range of options for mitigating environmental harms.
In estimating trail development costs, the report erred on the side of caution and went with the highest possible estimate of about $3 million per mile. We agree with Senator McGuire who states that these estimates are “not based in reality” and that we need to advance the master plan before we can accurately assess costs.
The report rightfully identifies the many challenges to trail development in the Eel River Canyon, including geomorphic challenges of landslides and high-risk slopes; failing infrastructure; abandoned equipment; and more. However, the canyon continues to present incredible opportunities. The report estimates that 75 – 85 percent of the corridor is in good physical condition for trail construction, and that it could generate $24 million in annual regional economic activity.
For our part, FOER is excited about the opportunities to introduce new visitors to the spectacular and wild portions of the Eel River. We look forward to encouraging ecologically appropriate river-access, assisting with interpretation featuring the rich Indigenous history and diverse wildlife, and of course cleaning up the mess left by a century of irresponsible railroad development.
Stay tuned for news about new proposed legislation to keep the Great Redwood Trail momentum going, subscribe to our e-newsletter to stay informed.
Click here to read the report.
Click here to see video from the unveiling of the first Great Redwood Trail branded portion of the trail.
Click here to learn more about our past work challenging the NCRA and ultimate victory at the California Supreme Court.