After three years of planting, weeding, and building, the $1.2 million, 80-acre Turtle Bay East Open Space is officially ready for visitors.
"It has one mile of river frontage and it has about 25 acres of new restoration plantings. It also has a new parking lot, a picnic area, and picnic pavilion, and one and a half miles of trail," said Terry Hanson, a Community Projects Manager with the city of Redding.
The funding comes from a program by the California Natural Resources Agency, which aims to restore and develop the state's river parkways.
"This land drains directly into the Sacramento River, and it has a lot to do with wildlife and fisheries actually. By taking out the invasive, taking out the California natives, we're improving the health of the land, and that in turn improves the health of the river, and in turn improves the health of the fish," Hanson said.
Restoration requires dedicated man-hours, many of which were provided by the 180 U-Prep students who labored in the gardens.
"We've been coming out lots of times, we've been out here at least 20 times, and we've been trying to restore the area to a native California riparian zone," said U-Prep Junior Sara Nune.
Sara's science teacher, Tad Raudman, says that using Turtle Bay East as an outdoor classroom has been mutually beneficial for the space, and for his students.
"It's funny, when the kids are out here picking up trash or refuse or putting in time weeding, they tend to take more responsibility, they take more care in nature and this natural setting, and so we usually pack out more trash than we come with. We're more forward thinking and the kids are changing their behavior to support a better future," he said.
To visit the Turtle Bay East Open Space, vehicle access is off the north end of Bechelli Lane.
This is the second River Parkways Grant that the city of Redding has received.
The first grant was $1.7 million, and included the two miles upriver from Turtle Bay East, and the Turtle Bay area around the Sundial Bridge.