Willits Wilderness Weekend starts with Bypass Mitigation presentation tonight, more events through Sunday

A presentation on Bypass mitigation, fish bbqs, field trips, and more!

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WILLITS, CA., 3/30/17 — The month-long series of events taking place to support the development of a new “Willits Hub” continues this weekend, beginning with a presentation from the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD) on the management plans for the Willits Bypass mitigation project. The project is the largest mitigation project undertaken by Caltrans, covering more than two thousand acres in the Little Lake Valley to replace wetlands damaged by Bypass construction, and several years of work are planned to restore the area and complete the required mitigation work.

The presentation will be given by Patricia Hickey, Director of Mendocino County Resource Conservation District and Chris Bartow, Project Manager for the Willits Bypass Offsite Mitigation Lands Project, at 7pm at the Willits Hub at 630 S. Main Street. MCRCD will be managing the projects in the long-term, and is currently responsible for some project lands, although Caltrans currently maintains responsibility for some of the wetland mitigation projects that could take up to a decade, according to the press release.

The event will include a brief WELL membership meeting to elect Coordinating Committee members. For more information contact Madge Strong at mstrong@willitsonline.com.

This weekend, the Willits Hub will also host a fish BBQ and night of Eel River presentations on Friday, March 31, and a “Willits Goes Wild” field trip departing at 9am Saturday to the south fork of the Eel River. All events are free but are part of an online crowdfunding campaign to support the development of the Willits Hub. More events will be held through April 15 as part of the crowdfunding effort; you can donate here.

Here’s the full press release from WELL with the details of this weekend’s events:

The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) is hosting a Wilderness Night of presentations and discussion about protecting and expanding Eel River federal Wilderness Areas on March 31 from 6 to 9 PM at the Willits Hub at 630 South Main Street just north of Highway 20 in Willits. On Saturday, April 1 the second Willits Goes Wild field trip will be departing from the same location at 9 AM. In a related event, Willits Economic Localization (WELL) is hosting a talk on Thursday, March 30 at 7 PM at the Willits Hub by Patricia Hickey  and Chris Bartow of the Mendocino Resource Conservation District on management of the Willits Bypass mitigation lands.

These events are part of a crowd-funding campaign to raise a year’s rent for the Willits Hub, formerly the Willits Environmental Center. Visit EverRibbon.com and type “Go Wild” to find the page for more information and to donate. If successful, the campaign will allow ERRP to establish an office in Willits and also provide space for (WELL), the Mendocino Wildlife Association and the Willits Environmental Center. The hope is to establish a hub and information center for sustainable living in Willits and the Eel River watershed. Donations are tax deductible.

On Friday, presentations and a panel discussion will run from 6 – 9 PM, and will be preceded by a rock fish BBQ and potluck at 5 PM to which the public is invited. There is no charge for admission, but donations will be accepted.

On Saturday morning April 1, people wanting to go on a field trip should assemble at the Willits Hub at 9 AM. The trip will explore the South Fork Eel River watershed at the edges of the Elkhorn and Red Mountain Wilderness areas. ERRP has a “Willits Goes Wild” van that can accommodate 9 passengers and ride sharing for the day will be arranged on site, with the trip departing at 9:15 AM.

The first stop will be Big Bend Lodge south of Leggett near the downstream extent of the Elkhorn Wilderness Area. ERRP Managing Director and fish biologist Pat Higgins will host the trip and will describe fish use and watershed conditions, while attendees explore the South Fork Eel River bend for which the lodge was named. The second major stop on the trip will be at the mouth of Cedar Creek on the property of the Gomde Monastery, a Buddhist retreat center. Cedar Creek flows from the Red Mountain Wilderness and is a vital source of clean water for the South Fork Eel River. Ample time will be allowed to fully explore the mouth of the creek as it meets the South Fork and the ruins of an old hatchery just up the creek. There is no charge for Wilderness field trip participation, but donations will be accepted.

Additional events in this series will include a Forest Health weekend on April 8-9 and a culminating event on April 15 on best practices for growing cannabis that will promote bringing the industry into harmony with nature.

Visit ERRP on Facebook, see www.eelriverrecovery.org, or call Robin at 459-0155 for more information.

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