Board Mulls Nature Park - Mountain News : News

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Not you?||
Logout|My Dashboard


Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:00 am

The 78 acres on Grass Valley Road the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust acquired in April 2011 are one step closer to becoming a wildland nature park, complete with hiking trails and possibly a dog park.

The Land Trust and the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the April 23 meeting—a partnership, Director Laura Dyberg called it.

"This is not an immediate commitment of funds," Dyberg said, "but allows us to go for ward together to raise funds." A total of $1.5 million needs to be raised, to replenish the Land Trust's revolving acquisition fund.

The Land Trust uses that fund to "rescue" land. It does not, however, retain or manage property; rather it either sells eligible land to the Forest Service or finds an appropriate buyer.

Because this property, which was formerly part of the Eagle Ridge development, is not contiguous to the national forest, it could not be resold to the Forest Service.

In the case of this parcel of land, the Rec and Park District appeared to be "the most logical holder of such an outstanding recreational treasure," according to a Land Trust press release.

“Twenty-four years ago,” Peter Jorris, executive director of the Land Trust, told the Rec and Park board, “this was public land.”

This area "is some of the most spectacular forest land we have on the entire mountain. This is the last remaining open space in the Lake Arrowhead area," he added. And, Jorris said, it presents "remarkable and golden opportunities for the entire community."

Dyberg said she "sees opportunities for all sorts of partnerships: with the Children's Forest, the Audubon Society and the San Bernardino National Forest Association."

Chair Rick Craig raised some questions about the MOU, expressing concern that the terms of the purchase agreement are not spelled out. "I like what we're doing," he said, "what it represents. But I have a hard time consenting to something not spelled out."

“My understanding,” Director Cindy Gardner said, “is that once we get into the purchase and sales agreement, everything will be spelled out.”

Adding to that, Director Hugh Bialecki noted “this is an agreement to move forward. There will be opportunities to discuss” the specifics.

“As someone who enjoys outdoor recreations,” Director Jason Bill said, “I think this is an important thing for the district to attempt to do.”

Pointing to the opportunities the nature preserve would present to local school children, Director Gardner said preschool and elementary school children currently take field trips to the Children’s Forest and Heaps Peak Arboretum. “To have another place, even closer, is invaluable,” she said.

To which Craig added, “We don’t get these opportunities that often.”

Dyberg noted Rec and Park and the Land Trust will look at the possibilities together—a dog park, climbing wall, an education center. The 10 to 15 acres that have already been disturbed will become the focal point of those features, she said. “We’ll explore what the people want.”

Jorris agreed, saying a preliminary design, subject to approval by Rec and Park, would be presented to the public at which time the two agencies will solicit funds.

While there are no budget implications for the Rec and Park district at this preliminary stage, Dyberg said she sees this “as a vehicle to go forward to raise funds and apply for grants.”

The vote by the board was 4-0-1, with Craig abstaining. “I have questions and didn’t want to hold up the vote,” he said.

With this MOU, Bill Engs, president of the Land Trust, said, “we feel much closer to the goal of serving the greatest number of people and caring for the land, which is the motto of the Forest Service and the essence of our mission as well.”


With the approval of the MOU, the Rec and Park board went on to authorize staff to apply for a Community Forest grant. Under this program, a maximum of $400,000 in grant funds is available; the program requires a 50 percent match in non-federal funds or in-kind donations.

Director Dyberg said much of the field work has already been done with other grants the district has applied for. When asked about the time frame to obtain the matching funds, she said the district would have two to three years.

“This is a rare grant that awards money to acquire land,” Dyberg said. Its purpose is to protect forests “people call home.”

While the land has already been acquired, the grant funds would go a long way toward replenishing the Land Trust’s acquisition fund. Jorris shook his head “yes” when asked if the Land Trust would assist in the preparation of the grant.

The vote was unanimous to go forward with the pursuit of these funds.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.