Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Great Redwood Trail Files ‘Adverse Abandonment’ Claim Against the Skunk Train


The following is a press release issued by the Great Redwood Trail Agency:

A portion of the Northwest Pacific Railroad in Mendocino County captured by an unknown photograph in the 1920s [Image from the Sonoma County Library]

Today the Great Redwood Trail Agency (GRTA) took the next step in building out the world-class Great  Redwood Trail in an application filed with the federal Surface Transportation Board. 

“The State of California was very clear in its mandate that we are to build the trail from Cloverdale to  Humboldt Bay, and this is the next step in that process,” said GRTA Interim Executive Director Karyn  Gear.  

In order to convert the broken-down railway to a trail, the GRTA is working through the process to railbank the line with the federal government. This officially preserves the corridor for all time and allows for the public trail to be built along the right of way. Due to a multitude of serious safety concerns, GRTA’s dilapidated rail line was closed by the federal government 25 years ago, and has not seen a freight train since. 

Last year the GRTA filed to railbank 176 miles of the rail line from Willits to Humboldt Bay, and the  Surface Transportation Board (STB) approved the application after soundly rejecting attempts by the  Skunk tourist train and others to take over critical portions of the public right-of-way. 

Today, the GRTA began the process of railbanking the second segment of its line from Willits to  Cloverdale, so it can begin trail planning for that 50-mile portion which will run adjacent to scenic vineyard lands, through local communities and along portions of the Russian River. 

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These filings will allow the STB to make a determination on the status of the Skunk train, which has operated exclusively as a tourist excursion operation and not a freight line. Without ongoing freight operations, STB jurisdiction should terminate, along with the connection to the interstate rail system. This is a process that must be completed before the GRTA railbanking process can move forward. This  “adverse abandonment” application seeks a finding that because the Skunk line does not conduct freight operations, and has been unable to run trains from Ft Bragg to Willits at all due to tunnel collapses on the line, their connection to the long embargoed and shuttered GRTA line is not required,  paving the way for the full repurposing of the line to complete the Great Redwood Trail all the way from  Humboldt Bay to Sonoma County. 

“The Skunk does a great job on their tourist train rides and rail-biking operation, and neither this filing nor railbanking the entire GRTA corridor will in any way prevent those activities from continuing. We hope that they will concur that railbanking is in the best interest of their company and the North Coast,”  said GRTA Chair Caryl Hart. “The STB’s rulings to date have paved the way for the establishment of the Great Redwood Trail, and we are asking for its approval now so we can continue to plan and build out  this incredible trail system.”

The GRTA has already begun their master planning process for the trail and is holding public forums this spring to discuss all aspects of the trail. Information and meeting schedules can be viewed  here: https://greatredwoodtrailplan.org/ 

Several segments of the Great Redwood Trail are already built and open to the public in cities like  Eureka, Arcata, and Ukiah and are underway in Willits, along Humboldt Bay, and more. Outdoor recreation is booming in California and trails create broad economic opportunities and environmental benefits for their surrounding communities. 

The Great Redwood Trail was created by the state of California, through the efforts of Senate Majority  Leader Mike McGuire, who represents the North Coast. 

A copy of the STB application is attached.


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  1. Theft via government by a special interest group. If the government did not keep stepping in the way perhaps a train could cover the area serving the young, old, disabled, everyone, not just the strong hikers.
    Imagine a link from Humboldt to Cloverdale then on down to the Bay Area via Larkspur ferry.. Serving everyone not just a limited group.

    Now that would be accessible to everyone, take cars off the freeway, and add a new tourist attraction.People need jobs and this link can supply it.

  2. This is more of a question. Who is going to watch over the Great Redwood Trail when the unhomed begin using it as aways of travel between Countries? We see what happens in the section in Ukiah already. I for one do not feel safe walking the trail at certain times. It’s becoming ugly in sections already. Who is going to prevent folks from setting up camps along the train? The law enforcement jurisdictions will switch to numerous agencies along the trail. These are legitimate questions I’m not trying to be negative just realistic.

    • I can smell the beautiful tent cities now. All of our parks, creeks, rivers are being taken over by bums and tweekers. Todd Grove and Low Gap used to be great places to take the family but even they are becoming a hot spot for the tweeker bums. I put blame on the poor decisions of our politicians.

    • Homeless are rejected and jailed. A safe place to camp is a basic human right. Rejected by Mendocino County. They will light our county on fire when summer is high. You cannot abuse the those with nothing to lose. Every homeless person owns a bic. Burn mother fucker burn.

      • Homeless are rarely jailed, unless they have an outstanding warrant in Mendocino County. They are usually told to pack up and move on. I totally understand the plight of the unhomed but I also know the obstacles when you are at the bottom of the food chain. Is spending millions on a trail, when our people are in need of housing the right thing to be spinning on?

  3. There’s a beautiful mural on the rail trail I’m looking at right now. It has a big heart and it says “I love my b#tt sl#t”. Really fabulous. By the ukiah walgreens. Will be really nice to have murals like this all the way to Humbolt

  4. it seems that McGuire and Wood view the track as a “toxic coal track.” i’d sure love to ride that track.
    time to replace the reps that do not represent the people.

  5. Curry’s Furniture :vacant
    Porter’s : vacant
    Former Dragons Lair building: boarded up.
    Old Savings Bank: just sitting there for 100 years
    Wendy’s : I miss your frosty’s
    Perkins Bar: they are still kickin’ it and they still have poles on the dance floor, wow!
    County Library: same orange sign from the 70’s
    Corner of Leslie and Perkins: don’t die while negotiating that turn in a vehicle or as a pedestrian

    What a sad and delapitated section of town, who would want to stop off The Great Bunkass trail and get a bite to eat there?

  6. This press release is total bullshit! This concept of a project is a waste of money that needs to be spent on truly important issues.

    Anytime a state places a “mandate” on anything I question who is really benefitting on this?

    Do the people of these counties want this? I really doubt it.


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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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