A dream more than two decades old has come true and the top of Fitch Mountain is becoming a park and open space preserve. This is a once in a generation opportunity for the community of Healdsburg and the residents of Sonoma County. Fitch Mountain is the crown jewel of Healdsburg and this legacy project will ensure public access and habitat protection on these lands forever.
Fitch Mountain Preserve includes 173 acres at the top of the mountain. This eliminates the possibility of development and establishes permanent public access for hiking and recreation.
A comprehensive management plan has been developed. Elements of the management plan include neighborhood and community engagement, trail development, a Villa Chanticleer trailhead, reduction of invasive plant species, fire prevention, public safety planning, and recreational opportunities. LandPaths, a respected local nonprofit stewardship group that creates ways for people to experience and value the open space in their communities, has owned the property since 2014, when it was purchased from private hands.
In November 2017, ownership will transfer to the City of Healdsburg and public access will follow. Funding for the $1.8 million purchase of the land came from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which collects and manages a quarter-cent sales tax to protect the diverse agricultural, natural resource, and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County.
In addition to the purchase price, funds were set aside to develop and implement the trails, operations, environmental, and management plans, including $250,000 from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, $100,000 from the City of Healdsburg and $150,000 from the Coastal Conservancy. In addition, local conservation-minded community leaders established the Fitch Mountain Fund. The Fund, which is hosted by Community Foundation Sonoma County, will allow the future park to be supported by community donors and park users, grants and family foundations.