A historic deal more than two decades in the making will result in the top of Fitch Mountain 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 on these lands forever.
The sale involves 173 acres at the top of the mountain. This eliminates the possibility of development and sets the property on a path for permanent public access for hiking and recreation.
The plan calls for a three year ‘soft’ opening which will allow time for a comprehensive management plan to be developed. Elements of the management plan will 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 conservation group that creates ways for people to experience and value the open space in their communities will own and steward the property during this transition.
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 have been 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 have 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.