Walks at the Arcata Marsh

By Juliannah Harris
Flapjack Chronicle

Arcata marsh mustard flowers
Vibrant yellow mustard with the blue water from Allen Marsh in the background.

With spring in the air many people are looking for places to enjoy the outdoors. A wonderful destination is the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a beautiful oasis in spring with blooming red currant bushes, vibrant yellow mustard flowers, and broadleaf cattails swaying in the breeze. It is also one of the better bird watching locations. The Arcata Marsh is about 300 acres in size with about five miles of well maintained walking and biking trails. The Arcata Marsh also serves as a wastewater treatment center for the city. Yet some residents have never been to the Arcata Marsh.
“I go to the beach and walk in the redwoods a lot,” Alicia Goodrich, an HSU alumni living in Arcata, said. “I didn’t even know there were any marshes in town.”
Local volunteers frequently hold free guided walks on a variety of topics. Susan Lashbrook, a public health nurse, attended a free Saturday marsh walk focusing on ecology.
“I moved to Arcata from the Bay Area in 1982 to go to nursing school at HSU and I walk here all the time, but this is the first guided walk I have ever taken in all those years,” Lashbrook said.
Lashbrook enjoyed learning about the plants, especially the edible onion which she plans to use in her salads.
Another aspect of the Arcata Marsh many do not consider is its role as a municipal wastewater treatment facility. According to Jane Wilson, a volunteer for the Friends of the Arcata Marsh (FOAM), the treatment marshes, oxidation ponds, and enhancement marshes were built in stages starting in about 1950 completing in the early 1980s. These systems of ponds and marshes, which weave through the trails, help clean the wastewater before it exits to the bay.
“[The water treatment facility] is the first of its kind. And many people, even from other countries, have come to study it,” Willson said.
One can get to Arcata Marsh from South I Street or South G Street. Free guided walks are frequently offered.
Every Saturday, at 8:30 a.m. there is a birding walk lead by the Redwood Region Audubon Society which meets at the foot of the I street parking lot.
Every Saturday, at 2 p.m. there is a guided walk on a variety of topics including ecology and wastewater treatment lead by FOAM which meets at the Interpretive Center.
The last Tuesday of the month, at 2 p.m. there is a slow paced shorter nature walk lead by FOAM which meets at the Klopp Lake I street parking lot.
If you can’t make the guided walks, but still want to learn more brochures, maps, and educational displays can be found at the Interpretive Center located at 569 South G street open on Monday 1-5 p.m., and Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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