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Come hike Taylor Mountain

  • 7/16/2006: A10: The view from the top of Taylor Mountain Ranch above Santa Rosa. The Open Space District bought the 823-acre site for $18 million in 2006.

    PC: The view from the top of Taylor Mountain above Santa Rosa during a moonlight walk with the Open Space District led by LandPaths, the public access arm of the district. Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat

The look and feel of a planned regional park on Taylor Mountain will be the subject of discussion and exploration Saturday at a day-long event designed to unveil the 1,100 open space and gather public input on its future.

The event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature guided hikes, presentations by park planners and opportunities for the public to submit comments on the scope, location and size of future park facilities.

The guided hikes will include routes not currently reachable on the open space's two designated trails, which have been open to permit-holding visitors since January.

"This is to get people on the ground and experience (Taylor Mountain) so they can provide us with feedback on the appropriate amount and location of trails, as well as other activities," said Sara Press, an associate planner with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

The Taylor Mountain area stretches from Petaluma Hill Road to Bennett Valley Road. It was assembled by the taxpayer-supported open space district through four separate land purchases totaling $21 million between 1995 and 2005. Planning for a regional park on the property began in spring with a $438,000 outlay from the Board of Supervisors for a park master plan.

Saturday's event is the second in a series of meetings that will be held throughout the planning process. Attendees will have their choice of five guided hikes showing off the Colgan Creek watershed, the former Nunes property and barn and various ridgelines and rock formations in the open space. Bilingual tours and hikes and activities for children will be available.

A county consultant will also give morning and afternoon presentations on a trails plan now in the works for the future park. Exhibits on the property's biological habitats, and other potential facilities, such as restrooms, parking areas and a visitor center, will be provided. Public comment will be collected after the presentations and throughout the day.

Completion of the park plan and transfer of the property from the open space district to the county's regional parks department could occur by next summer.

A date for the park's opening will depend on the schedule of improvements.

About 1,700 people hold special permits allowing them and their guests limited access to the preserve under a program supervised by the conservation group LandPaths. Permits are earned by taking a one-hour orientation in English or Spanish. About 800 more permits can be offered under an existing cap.

Saturday's event will be staged at the preserve's western entrance, off Kawana Terrace Road.


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