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Possible $1.7 mil funding for Taylor Mtn. Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

  • Taylor Mtn. Regional Park and Open Space Preserve (map)

This is not a done deal, but it's a strong possibility, and that has us all very excited for the ongoing Trails For Taylor project.  The Sonoma County Regional Parks recently sent out this press release:

Taylor Mountain Trails Project Will Be Recommended for $1.7 Million in Funding

Future Grant Will Pay for 8 Miles of New Trails at the Santa Rosa Park and Preserve

Sonoma County Regional Parks anticipates receiving a $1.7 million grant to build 8 miles of trails at Taylor Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve in Santa Rosa. The trail expansion will offer the first public access to the northeast section of the 1,100-acre park and will be one of Sonoma County’s single-largest trail projects.

Regional Parks learned in December that its application for the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program will be recommended for funding in late 2016. Trail construction could begin in early 2017 and continue through 2018. 

“This recommendation is a significant achievement,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. “The funding is crucial to fulfilling the community’s vision for a larger trail network at Taylor Mountain, and we’re pleased our state and federal partners recognize the potential.”

As suggested in the park’s master plan, the multi-use trails will be built as stacked loops that lead visitors through oak woodlands, across ridges with sweeping views of Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley, over the headwaters of Colgan and Cooper creeks, and past the site of a historic hot springs resort. Trailheads on Kawana Terrace, Linwood Avenue and Panorama Drive will make it easier for southeast Santa Rosa residents to walk or bike to the park.

“This funding will create a tremendous health resource for our community,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, whose 3rd District includes much of the park. “Last summer, we added a Petaluma Hill Road entrance that improves access for residents of Rohnert Park and the south county.  Now, we can build trails and neighborhood connections that make Taylor Mountain even more accessible.”

“Taylor Mountain is a wonderful example of how we can provide opportunities to play and learn in protected landscapes,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin, whose 1st District takes in northern and eastern sections of the park. “Most of Taylor Mountain will be open to the public when these trails are built, yet the land will remain an important agricultural resource and urban buffer.”

The grant award is contingent upon Congress reauthorizing funding for the Recreational Trails Program later this year. Once that occurs, California State Parks intends to administer the $1.7 million grant to Regional Parks sometime after Oct. 1. Regional Parks must contribute $316,000 in matching funds. The match will include $80,000 from the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, $25,000 in maintenance funds, $20,000 in mitigation fees, $7,000 from the Sonoma County Trails Council, and $184,000 worth of volunteer labor, donated materials and in-kind equipment and services.

Rising to 1,400 feet, Taylor Mountain is a Santa Rosa landmark. The properties comprising the park and preserve were purchased by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and deeded to Sonoma County Regional Parks. The park opened in 2013 with an entrance off of Kawana Springs Road and 4 miles of trails. A second entrance and trailhead on Petaluma Hill Road opened in June 2015, extending the trail network by 2 miles. A disc golf course built and managed by a nonprofit organization opened in 2014.

Immediate plans for the park include the construction of more picnic areas, a restroom, and a play area. Planning is ongoing for the nature-focused play area, with a design workshop scheduled for Feb. 3 and construction tentatively scheduled for summer 2016. Longer-range plans include walk-in campsites, an education and visitor center, and additional trailheads and parking.