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 natural 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 – 173 acres – will transfer ownership to the city of Healdsburg in 2017 and the preserve is expected to open soon thereafter.
What has happened so far?
Escrow closed on the property in late 2014 and infrastructure planning is complete. Infrastructure projects completed or planned 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 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, and educational programming will take place in the preserve. Existing trails will be improved to minimize impacts on the land and wildlife, and parking for a trailhead will be available at the Villa Chanticleer. Dogs – on leash – will also be allowed.
Will the river and streams be protected?
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, the management plan includes how to best manage the property to reduce erosion and make the waterways cleaner and healthier.
What is being 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. So far, thousands of volunteer hours have gone into invasive plant eradication. The management plan calls for greatly reducing 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 been a significant fire hazard for decades on Fitch Mountain. A fire prevention plan will be implemented and invasive plants are being removed and minimized. Reducing scotch broom, for example, is a major goal of the Fitch Mountain Association, a neighbors' group. Improved trail access will also make it easier for public safety personnel to access the property if necessary.