World class destination trail system closer to reality, but hefty NCRA debt still an obstacle
Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire’s groundbreaking bill that will create the Great Redwood Trail, which will extend from the San Francisco Bay to the Humboldt Bay, is one step closer to reality after it was approved with a unanimous 36-0 vote in the State Senate last night.
“There is tremendous support for this trail project both in the state Legislature and on the North Coast and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support thus far,” said McGuire, noting the strong bi-partisan vote in the Senate and significant local backing. “However, there is still major work to do and we know that anything that makes a big difference is never easy. We need to resolve the significant financial debt that NCRA has racked up over the years as our first step.”
McGuire is continuing to meet with state government agencies, land owners, trail advocates and transportation officials on a plan to work out the agency’s financial debts and chart a way forward for the popular trail system.
The bill, SB 1029, has become one of the top priorities for environmental organizations around the state, making the Green California “Hot List” of critical bills this year. This list is compiled by leading environmental organization like the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited and dozens more. The California Transportation Commission is also in support of this important bill.
“From the San Francisco Bay, through the incredible beauty of wine country, alongside the glistening banks of the Russian and Eel Rivers, into the stunning old growth Redwood forests, and up to and around panoramic Humboldt Bay – this is truly an incredible piece of earth. SB 1029 sets the stage to turn this 300 mile long-suffering train track into a world renowned trail system that will benefit locals and visitors alike and be a boon to our local economies,” Senator Mike McGuire said.
The Great Redwood Trail will be a significant economic driver for the rural North Coast communities it would wind through. California outdoor recreation is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Golden State’s economy. It generates over $92 billion a year here in California, is responsible for nearly 700,000 jobs with over $30 billion in wages, and brings over $6 billion in tax revenues back to state and local communities. The trail will attract hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors alike to hike this spectacular landscape and inject needed funds into our small, rural economies.
The North Coast Railroad Authority will be dissolved through SB 1029, and the 300-mile-long right-of-way will be segmented roughly at the halfway point. The Northern Segment, from Willits to Arcata, will be transferred to the newly created Great Redwood Trail Agency who will begin railbanking the right-of-way and start the planning for the trail, including a significant community input process. The Southern Segment will be transferred to Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit who will be responsible for passenger and freight trains, and will build the southern section of the Great Redwood Trail.