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Monte Rio Redwoods Regional Park & Open Space Preserve - Background

Monte Rio Redwoods Regional Park & Open Space Preserve

Project Background

The Dutch Bill Creek Acquisition is next to the unincorporated town of Monte Rio and within the Monte Rio Recreation & Park District boundary. Monte Rio Redwoods front both Main Street and Bohemian Highway located on either side of Dutch Bill Creek. Initial discussions with the former landowners, the Torrs, was about acquiring a trail easement through these lands. That discussion transformed into protecting the greater property as a regional park with a bikeway and connecting trails. During negotiations, all agreed that a regional park was a much better alternative than timber harvesting, and commercial and residential development that existing zoning allowed. 

The Property

Monte Rio Redwoods Regional Park & Open Space Preserve offers exciting recreation and preservation opportunities. Existing dirt roads and trails provide hikes that range from nearly level along the creek corridor to strenuous climbs of almost 1,500-foot elevation gain. The property boasts most of the iconic habitat types of the California Coast Range, including mature redwood forests, montane hardwood, Douglas-fir forests, coastal oak woodland, riparian forest, coastal scrub, serpentine chaparral, mixed chaparral and closed-cone pine-cypress. The majority of the property is redwood forest.

The property includes ridges and valleys with elevations ranging from 8 feet to 1,453 feet above sea level. The main property edges are the large north-south ridges that define the Dutch Bill Creek watershed with several intermittent streams gathering from the ridgelines and flowing to Dutch Bill Creek. Because of its complex topography, it provides many sweeping vistas, albeit often necessary to peak between the branches of existing trees.

The property provides habitat for numerous rare and protected species including northern spotted owl, osprey, Sonoma tree vole, foothill yellow-legged frog, California giant salamander, and northwestern pond turtle. With so much to offer and important wildland habitat to protect, this property provides the opportunity to develop in balance multi-benefit approaches for ecological preservation and passive public recreation.

Monte Rio Redwoods supports Coho and Steelhead, and is critical habitat for Coho rearing. For nearly two decades, the Dutch Bill Creek watershed has been the site of intensive efforts to enhance habitat for endangered fish species and restore watershed processes. Extensive work has been undertaken to improve fish passage and enhance habitat within the creek, with additional projects planned for the future.

The property provides significant ecological services for the Monte Rio Community and the Lower Russian River. The park protects redwood forest and approximately 1.1 miles of Dutch Bill Creek, a tributary of the lower Russian River, and approximately 2 miles of tributary watercourses. The property includes nearly one quarter of Dutch Bill Creek that flows through the hills of west Sonoma County, from its headwaters near Occidental, north to its confluence with the Russian River at Monte Rio.

Project Funding

Summer 2021, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors gave Regional Parks approval to purchase the Torr property for $3.9 million. Funding sources include:

Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) - $2.1 million and additional $250,000 for development of initial public access and land management

State Parks from its Land and Water Conservation Fund - $954,028

State Coastal Conservancy - $500,000

Measure M (the local parks sales tax measure voters passed in 2018) - $300,000

Park Mitigation Fees - $45,972 

Supporting Documents

Conservation Easement West(PDF: 465  kB)