Why is it important to protect Fitch Mountain?
Fitch Mountain is the crown jewel of Healdsburg and one of the North County’s most prominent environmental landmarks. In addition to being a critical part of the Foss Creek and Russian River watersheds, it shelters native wildlife and plants. Protecting the mountain from development preserves its beauty and natural resources for future generations, who will be able to enjoy it as a recreational opportunity and an example of natural habitat just steps away from the city.
When will Fitch Mountain be open to the public?
The property – nearly 200 acres - will transfer ownership to the city of Healdsburg in 2017 and the park is expected to open soon thereafter. Until then, the Park will remain closed to open access recreation.
What will happen between now and November 2017, when the park opens?
Escrow closed on the property in late 2014 and infrastructure planning is underway. Infrastructure projects include fire management work, trail connections, erosion control, designation of parking and the trail access point at the Villa Chanticleer. To stay current with the management plans, visit http://www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us/742/Fitch-Mountain.
What type of recreational activities will be allowed in the new Fitch Mountain Park?
Hiking, biking, running, picnicking, small community events and educational programming will take place in the new Park. Once a comprehensive trails plan has been developed, trails will be developed and improved, and parking for a trailhead will be available at the Villa Chanticleer. Dogs – on leash – will also be allowed in the new Park.
Will the river and streams be protected as well?
Yes, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District will hold a conservation easement intended to protect the natural and scenic features of the property while allowing passive recreational use. In addition, a management plan will be developed for the property which will include how to best manage the property to reduce erosion and make the waterways cleaner and healthier.
What will be done to protect wildlife and native plants?
The conservation easement specifically protects native trees, plants and animals. It requires that all recreational uses and improvements be consistent with natural resource protection. Also, the management plan will seek to greatly reduce invasive plant species on the mountain, allowing native plants and wildlife to flourish in a natural habitat.
How will this improve fire safety on the mountain?
Invasive plants have presented a significant fire hazard for many decades on Fitch Mountain. A fire prevention plan will be implemented and invasive plants growing will be removed prior to the Park opening. Reducing scotch broom, for example, is a major goal of Fire Free Fitch, a local neighbors' group. Improved trail access will also make it easier for public safety personnel to access the property if necessary.