PUC Signs Trail Agreement with Open Spaces District

By Peter Lecourt & Becky St. Clair on August 30, 2019

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For years, the trails of Pacific Union College’s forested lands have been known mostly by word of mouth; even locals are sometimes unaware of the college’s 35 miles of recreational trails through more than 850 acres of rich biodiversity and striking beauty.

Now, thanks to a new trail license agreement between PUC and the Napa County Regional Parks and Open Spaces District, PUC’s forest is now open for those who wish to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding through PUC’s coastal redwoods, Douglas firs, ponderosa pines, oaks, bay laurels, and Madrones. They may even see a rare Napa False Indigo or hear the calls of the threatened Northern Spotted Owl.

This agreement means PUC’s forest will be incorporated into the district’s set of open spaces parks in Napa County.

“Growing into the future, PUC is excited to partner with the Parks and Open Spaces District to the mutual benefit of our organizations,” says Peter Lecourt, forest manager for PUC, “and to the local community who cherish the PUC forest.”

While this license will not change the essential character and unequalled ecological value of PUC’s forest, it does represent a major milestone in both the history and future of the PUC forest.

Last year PUC took a major step toward permanently preserving its unique open space heritage by placing a conservation easement over much of its forest lands. This trail license can be seen as the next logical step, providing a framework for allowing public use of the trail system that already exists in the forest.

“Pacific Union College has long been a valued part of the Napa community,” says Brent Brandol, president of the Board of Directors of the Napa Open Space District. “We are thrilled to partner with them in supporting the preservation, public use, and enjoyment of the college’s magnificent forested lands.”

“A core principle of the Open Space District since its establishment in 2006 has been to maximize the public benefits provided by open space lands owned by other agencies and organizations,” says John Woodbury, general manager of the Open Space District.

In recent years the district has formed many partnerships, with:

  • The City of Napa to allow public access to the watershed lands on the north side of Lake Hennessey
  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife to allow the public to experience the Napa River Ecological Reserve on Yountville Cross Road
  • The California Department of Parks and Recreation to keep Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park from closure
  • The Bureau of Reclamation to construct and operate ecoCamp Berryessa
  • The City of American Canyon to construct and operate 5 miles of trail along the Napa River
  • Napa County to improve and maintain the Oat Hill Mine Trail

This license with PUC continues the district’s tradition of coordination and cooperation with other agencies, institutions, and organizations.

Follow the PUC forest on Facebook at facebook.com/pucforest. Request a trail map by emailing Lecourt at plecourt@puc.edu. Learn more about the Napa OSD at napaoutdoors.org and the Bay Area Ridge Trail at ridgetrail.org.