|News from||1705 Brompton
Petaluma, CA 94954
Contact: Bruce Hagen; Desk (707) 792-3404; Cell (707) 688-0122
June 16, 2002
For Immediate Release
Sonoma Mountain Trail would connect Lafferty Park with Jack London State Park
Friends of Lafferty Park (FLP) today announced a proposed trail donation from Sonoma Mountain landowner Bonnie Mitsui that would expand the recreation opportunity at Lafferty Park into one of statewide significance.
Ms. Mitsui, whose ranch straddles the broad top of Sonoma Mountain between Lafferty and Jack London State Parks, has offered to give to the State Park system a 1.4-mile trail easement across her oak studded ranch for a connection between the two parks. Her offer is contingent upon the State opening Lafferty as an open space park.
"As a long-time hiker and supporter of public trails, I'm pleased to offer this trail to the people of California", said Ms. Mitsui. "They deserve to experience the great beauty of Sonoma Mountain." Bonnie was an early member of the Greenbelt Alliance, and has already donated a conservation easement over her 630-acre property to the Nature Conservancy.
Petaluma's Lafferty Park property has attracted staff attention of the State because of the Mitsui trail proposal. Trail linkages between parks are a high priority of the State Park system. State officials recently visited the property and have been exploring how to respond to Ms. Mitsui's offer.
Connecting the two parks would allow the public to hike from Sonoma or Petaluma valleys across the top of Sonoma Mountain. The trail would open a spectacular landscape for visual enjoyment from the trail, including oak and bay savanna, grassland, and the headwaters of three perennial streams. The panorama of the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco, and the whole Bay east to Carquinez can be viewed from Mitsui's ranch. Sonoma Mountain could join her Bay Area sisters -- Burdell, Tamalpais, San Bruno, Mission Peak, and Diablo -- in a Bay Area ring of peaks with public access.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the most sought-after trail development in Sonoma County," said Bill Kortum, the well-known Sonoma County conservationist and trail advocate. "We are grateful to Bonnie for this generous offer, as will be all future generations."
This rare donation of a trail of such significance could justify the use of Proposition 50 bond money for the project. The project would be an unprecedented bargain for the State, a high priority during the State's budget crisis, due to the Mitsui gift, and the fact that Lafferty, long recognized as a treasure, is already in public ownership.
Ms. Mitsui's trail would cover 95% of the distance between Lafferty and Jack London. The easternmost stretch would be purchased from another landowner.
"Opening Lafferty Park, and connecting it to Jack London, has long been a dream for people of Sonoma County," said Larry Modell, a member of FLP. "We look forward to working with City, County, and State officials on making it a reality."
Participants in recent public workshops identified development of a trail over Sonoma Mountain to Jack London State Park as the County's top outdoor recreation priority for the County Outdoor Recreation Plan. The 270-acre Lafferty Park property, with its perennial Adobe Creek and sweeping views of the Bay and Pacific, was purchased by the City of Petaluma in 1959, and has been designated as a park site in City and Sonoma County plans since 1964. The City of Petaluma has been working to open Lafferty Park as an open space park since 1996, but has been stymied by the opposition of a few park neighbors.
"It's gratifying to see the State take an interest in this project, " said Petaluma Recreation, Music and Parks Commissioner Bruce Hagen, another FLP member. "They stand to gain a valuable addition to their system at a steep discount. Petaluma would finally get Lafferty Park opened while recovering some of the costs we've put into it over the years. Everyone comes out ahead."
Photographs along the Mitsui trail will be posted at www.laffertypark.org
Friends of Lafferty Park (FLP) is a Petaluma-based volunteer organization supporting the City of Petaluma's plans for a wilderness park at the old Lafferty Ranch atop Sonoma Mountain. Their mission is "to develop, maintain, and improve Petaluma's Lafferty Park and enhance the experience of park visitors through volunteerism, fund-raising, and education." You can read more at www.laffertypark.org