Thanks to funds from Proposition 84’s River Parkways Program, PG&E, and the Coastal Conservancy, the City of Eureka teamed up with local advocates at the Redwood Community Action Agency and the Humboldt Trails Council, as well as local businesses and individuals, to provide the newest addition to Eureka’s recreational trail areas, officially opening on February 23, 2013. The Hikshari’ trail (the Wiyot name for this area), includes four new parking lots, restored wetland areas, 1.5 miles of multiple use trail, and other park facilities such as benches. The project has been the product of much collaboration and hard work by a number of local organizations and individuals (Janssen Malloy LLP attorney Shanti Michaels participated in a coastal clean-up of this same location in the fall).
The City of Eureka has donated land to this project as part of a larger waterfront development vision that includes building a 6.5 mile Eureka Waterfront Trail, extending from Tydd Street (in north Eureka) and Target bayfront area, through Old Town’s waterfront and industrial sectors. The ultimate goal is to connect the Old Town waterfront trail with the Hikshari’ trial and the Elk River Access Area. Already local businesses such as Shamus T. Bones, which recently applied for a permit to build an outdoor patio addition, are beginning to take advantage of the development.
The dedication of property by the city was, in part made possible by the existence of California’s recreational use statute, section 846 of the Civil Code, which was first passed in 1963. The statute decreases the liability property owners risk by opening their lands to recreational users. It was passed in response to the growing “tendency of private landowners to bar public access to their land for recreational uses out of fear of incurring tort liability.” The legislature enacted the statute to give private landowners immunity from the negligence claims of uninvited, non-paying entrants who could sue after being injured while participating in recreational activities.