Starting July 12, the Mulkey Ridge Trail which connects Bald Hill through the Greenbelt Land Trust will be closed to all public access. This closure is expected to last all summer and into the fall.
Greenbelt is closing the trail to begin a multi-year forest thinning and restoration project. According to Greenbelt Outreach Manager Matt Benotsch, heavy equipment will be in use, making it unsafe for hikers.
“We are asking trail users to respect the trail closure for their own safety and not proceed past the posted signs or enter the project area,” Benotsch said.
Bald Hill Farm was acquired by the trust in 2013, and Mulkey Ridge Forest was acquired in 2015. The goal of the 2015 acquisition was to preserve the public trail connection from Bald Hill Farm to Benton County’s Fitton Green Natural Area.
This forest trimming and restoration will expand and connect ecologically important oak savanna, oak woodland, and prairie habitats. The project will also decrease fuel loads and wildfire risk, as well as increasing access for wildfire response.
Greenbelt Stewardship Director Matt Blakeley-Smith said, “Prairies and oak savannas are biologically diverse, fire adapted ecosystems. Through their restoration we can provide habitat for imperiled species and a safer landscape for our community.”
Working with Greenbelt is Trout Mountain Forestry with the guidance of a Forest Stewardship Plan developed with oversight from state and federal agencies, as well as input from natural resource professionals and public feedback.