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LandPaths passes stewardship of Willow Creek to State Parks


LandPaths passes stewardship of Willow Creek to State Parks

June 4 - A free community event celebrating LandPaths’ 10 years of free, permit-based access and applaud those instrumental to protecting Willow Creek forever. With the dedication of the community—including over 5,000 permit holders and 60 active stewards—LandPaths kept the Willow Creek Addition to Sonoma Coast State Park open well beyond the initially planned three years, and through a decade of state budget deficits and park closures. This was achieved with and for the community without mandating a fee to explore the land -- a true People Powered Park.

“Willow Creek is a truly special place,” said Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District General Manager, Bill Keene. “The District was thrilled to be able to help purchase this monumental property ten years ago, and we are grateful to LandPaths for ensuring the public has had access to its beauty and splendor over the past decade. Through this unique, multi-partner collaboration, we were able to protect a key piece of land for wildlife, while also providing the community a pristine place to explore and rejuvenate their minds and bodies.”

Event Timeline:

11PM: Optional Mountain Bike Ride-In from Occidental Park & Ride (cyclists must pre-register, limited number of bike shuttles available post-event)

12 PM: Welcome! Optional guided hike from Freezeout entrance 1 PM Family scavenger hunt

2 PM Ceremony, Recognition & Toast- Speakers to include Bill Keene, General Manager of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District; Caryl Hart, Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks, Damien Jones, Supervising Ranger for California State Parks; Mike Jani, Past President and Chief Forester at MRC/HRC; Michele Luna, Executive Director of Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods; Congressman Jared Huffman, US Representative for the 2nd District; Richard Retecki of the State Coastal Conservancy; and Craig Anderson, Executive Director of LandPaths.

12-4pm: Regional Parks activity van, free exploration and refreshments

WHERE: Willow Creek Trailhead, Freezeout Flat Road, just outside and southeast of the town of Duncan’s Mills off Moscow Road.

How: Pre-registration is requested at Parking is limited and carpools are highly recommended.

Willow Creek State park Trail Map


LandPaths created the free permit program with Mendocino Redwood Company(MRC) at Willow Creek in 1999, at a time when Caryl Hart was on the Board of LandPaths. The permit program was designed to encourage a greater sense of ownership of the land, and request volunteer time and support, rather than a fee for enjoying the land.

State Parks required LandPaths promise to continue its innovative permit program as a condition of accepting the property into Sonoma Coast State Park in 2005. The California State Coastal Conservancy funded these programs for four years, until June of 2009. From 2009-2015, LandPaths continued its signature permit program free of charge, without any public funding. In 2015, after 10 years, LandPaths and State Parks decided it was time to pass the torch- or more literally, the golden shovel! During this transition, Willow Creek will still need stewards, and the volunteer efforts will continue in the hands of our partners, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, the non-profit supporting California State Parks in the Russian River District.

Since 1999, the LandPaths permit model has been replicated at other “parks-in-waiting” such as Taylor Mountain and Tolay Regional Parks. LandPaths continues to develop vanguard programs that reduce barriers to getting outdoors so all residents can benefit from and contribute to the health of the land in Sonoma County.

Additional Quotes: 

“(Willow Creek) was one of the very first efforts as a young company back then, where we had an opportunity to work collaboratively with a local community grou, and it paved the way for much of what followed in working on forest and stream restoration work with other groups like Trout Unlimited and Cal Trout. It’s been a really successful relationship with LandPaths. -Mike Jani, Past President and Chief Forester, MRC/HRC

“Sonoma County Regional Parks is thrilled to support opportunities for parks like Willow Creek. We are optimistic about this new chapter in the stewardship of this incredibly scenic area of the county.” -Caryl Hart, Director, Sonoma County Regional Parks

“Stewards appreciates the dedication of LandPaths over the years to provide access to this amazing landscape. Our priority moving forward is to work with State Parks on the transition of Willow Creek to a model that supports the State Park Transformation Team's Partnership Initiative. Volunteers will continue to be essential to the successful operation of Willow Creek." - Michele Luna, Executive Director, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

Event website:

 Guided Bike-In Registration: For more information about LandPaths, please visit