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Great Redwood Trail Neighbors Want Compensation

A lawsuit recently filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims alleges that landowners along the Great Redwood Trail were not properly compensated when “the federal government took private property from the owners of land along the 175-mile-long (trail) through Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties.”

The suit states that “the easement for the railroad right-of-way and the railway line was abandoned, the original railroad easement terminated, and the present-day owners hold title to the land. The federal government, however, created a new easement for the Great Redwood Trail across these owners’ land, mostly along the Eel River. The federal Trails Act authorized the Surface Transportation Board to issue an order taking these owners’ land for the Great Redwood Trail (and) these private landowners are owed compensation for the property.”

Also, the suit states, “the landowners have serious concerns about the public access to their adjoining property. In past cases, the courts have found that the creation of public recreational trail corridors increases crime and trespass to the owners’ adjoining land, requiring the owner to build fences and implement other measures to protect their property and privacy. Other owners have lost the right of access to their property, rendering some or all of their property inaccessible. The federal government must pay these owners for this taking of their property and the damage to their remaining property.”

Creation of the trail has been championed by State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), who reported in October that the plan had cleared another hurdle.

According to McGuire, “the Federal Surface Transportation Board soundly rejected the Mendocino Railway (also known as The Skunk Train) Company’s bid to take over 13 miles of the Great Redwood Trail, (paving) the way for one of the most important steps yet for the Great Redwood Trail — protecting and preserving 175 miles of rail line forever through the rail banking process. This will allow the Great Redwood Trail to begin breaking ground on these miles of line and ensure the former rail right of way remains in public ownership in perpetuity.”

“This is a momentous day for the future of the North Coast and the Great Redwood Trail,” McGuire was quoted as saying in the release. “With this proposal soundly rejected by the federal government, I’m thrilled that we’ll once and for all start moving dirt and getting large swaths of the Great Redwood Trail built.”

The completed trail would span 320 miles on the former rail line from the San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay, “through and near some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth including ancient Redwoods, State and National Parks, golden oak-studded hills, lush vineyards and along the shores of the Eel and Russian Rivers,” McGuire said.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)


  1. izzy January 2, 2023

    Who knows how far the present arrangement of things can extend itself into the future. Looking ahead from where we are now, one could foresee the need for remote E-bike charging stations for stranded travelers-to-come when their bikes run out of juice in the middle of nowhere. Those things are heavy. Judging by the greatly increased use of these devices along the Fort Bragg haul road now, it’s not an unlikely development. Could be a potential business opportunity for the adjacent owners. Or will they simply be prohibited?

  2. Raine. January 2, 2023

    It’s all Indian land… and still, they’ve yet to be compensated and the land returned.

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