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More Than Just a Trail, a Special Place

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Great Redwood Trail-Ukiah is open to the public, but for staff at North Coast Opportunities, the project won’t be complete until the corridor has been transformed into a welcoming community space with a park like setting.

The new trail was funded by the Urban Greening Program of the California Natural Resources Agency. The primary goal of the Urban Greening program is to address climate change by decreasing vehicle miles traveled and sequestering carbon in native plants. With the trail complete, it is predicted people will walk and bike more, and drive less. The secondary goal of the project is to make the trail a special place through “placemaking.”

Placemaking is defined as a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public places. Placemaking capitalizes on a community’s assets, inspiration, and potential with the intention of creating healthy places.

Staff from North Coast Opportunities’ Walk & Bike Mendocino program identified the grant and collaborated with The City of Ukiah to develop a proposal that was ultimately accepted. Executive Director, Patty Bruder expressed her excitement for the project; “Our grant application was successful because we included so much community input in the design and implementation. By engaging the community and using so many volunteers, we help our community build a healthy pride of place.”

Under the direction of North Coast Opportunities staff, volunteers are restoring native plants along both sides of the 800 feet of trail. Approximately forty oak trees will be planted that will not only provide shade but will also sequester 1.3 million carbon dioxide equivalents over their lifetime.

In addition to NCO’s Walk & Bike Mendocino, multiple partners including the Ukiah Valley Trail Group, the Ford Street Project, and the Sanhedrin Chapter of the Native Plant Society, are contributing, each with their own unique perspective and abilities.

Andrea Davis, a board member with both the Ukiah Valley Trail Group and the Sanhedrin Chapter of the Native Plant society, is overseeing plant selection, landscape design, and volunteer landscaping. “We’ve had over twenty volunteers, propagate and tend plants to be used on the trail. Many of these volunteers tended the plants over the summer so they are ready for planting now,” said Ms. Davis.

The Ford Street Project brings a workforce development component to the project. Lead trainer Carolyn Brown worked with staff from North Coast Opportunities to create a hands-on curriculum to train individuals in native plant propagation, planting, and landscape maintenance. “We have a variety of workforce development programs, including gardening and landscape elements. Teaching people about using drought tolerant California native plants for landscaping is a valuable marketable skill. It is also rewarding to know that the efforts our clients have contributed to this project will be enjoyed by the community for years to come,” said, Ms. Brown.

As part of their training, Ford Street Project clients have been key players in the landscaping work. One Ford Street Project client volunteers said “I enjoyed making a beautiful space along the trail and appreciated all of the positive comments and even help we received from people walking by.”

There is still a lot of work to do. The goal is to have at least 40 oak trees, hundreds of native plants and thousands of native grasses planted before this year’s rains end. Using native plants will create a low maintenance, climate friendly, linear park. Volunteers will help to hand water plants through the first few summers, then they should be able to survive without water.

“The plants would look better with a little summer water, but they should survive on their own, and irrigation just wasn’t in our budget.” said Ms. Davis.

The Ukiah Valley Trail Group will be hosting a community workday on March 21st. “We’re going to try to make it a really fun couple of workdays, with music and kids building bee boxes, and of course, a lot of shoveling compost and mulch,” said Ms. Davis with a smile.

For more information or to learn how you can help, call or email Neil Davis at (70)467-3220;

Program(s) Involved: Walk & Bike Mendocino