The Cache Creek Nature Preserve, located at 34199 County Road 20, Woodland, CA 95695, was dedicated to the County in 1999 by Teichert Land Company. The property was mined by Teichert for its aggregate resources and was reclaimed to wildlife habitat. At the time of dedication, the Nature Preserve was the second property brought into the Cache Creek Parkway system.
The County owns the Nature Preserve in fee title and has an agreement with the Cache Creek Conservancy ("CCC"), a non-profit organization founded in 1996 that is dedicated to restoration, preservation, and education of the Cache Creek watershed, to provide operation and maintenance of the property on behalf of the County. In exchange for the operation and maintenance of the site, the CCC receives a portion of gravel mining fees from the County's Cache Creek Area Plan program.
There are two modular trailer buildings on the property that the CCC uses. One of them is used for administrative functions (i.e., office space, board room) and the other is used for educational exhibits and storage of those exhibits. These structures have been on the property for over 20 years and are reaching the end of their shelf lives.
The Board previously reviewed and approved the schematic design and conceptual site plan for this project in October 2020. Since that time County staff has sought public input through robust stakeholder engagement, described in detail below, and worked collaboratively to finalize the proposed site plan and building designs. Based on feedback obtained from stakeholders as well as the Committee on Capital Investments, staff worked with the project design team to develop three “options” for constructing the Project, while ensuring that all options were consistent with the 2020 Board approved schematic design.
The design options are described in detail below; however, the chief difference between the three options is cost. Option A and Option B are essentially the same, with Option A costing more ($2M more) than Option B because it included a solar array for on-site electricity generation. However, the project design team conducted an analysis that demonstrated that the solar array would take over 100 years to generate enough electricity to offset the cost of constructing it. Given that “stick built” buildings are constructed with a shelf life of approximately 100 years, staff recommended not including the solar array. Option B is the result of that recommendation and is estimated to cost $10.2M to construct. Option C is the least expensive “value engineered” option. Option C ($7.8M) would replace the existing modular structures with a pre-engineered metal building with an approximate shelf life of 50 years.
Staff recommends that the Board approve Option B as the preferred project. As mentioned above, all options are consistent with the Board approved schematic designs, as well as the Board adopted Cache Creek Parkway Plan.
In anticipation that these structures would need to be replaced in the near future, the Yolo County Natural Resources Division spent 2020 working with a Project Team consisting of NORR Associates, Wilson Design Studio Landscape Architecture, and Consero Solutions to develop a schematic design for a new visitor center and administration building and tool building that would replace the current trailers with more permanent solutions. This phase consisted of several outreach meetings, such as quarterly stakeholder meetings and two public meetings, and meetings before the Cache Creek Conservancy Board of Directors, the Yolo County Parks Recreation and Wildlife Advisory Committee, and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors Committee on Capital Investments. The feedback and input collected from these meetings went into developing a set of schematic designs that were approved by the Board of Supervisors on October 6, 2020, by a unanimous vote (BOS Minute Order No. 20-135).
In July 2021, the Natural Resources Division initiated the second phase of the design process, again working with the same Project Team. This phase has included additional design development of the Board approved schematic designs of the new buildings, including the development of formal construction documents to ensure the project is "shovel ready" should grant funding be obtained (more information on grant funding below). 30% construction drawings have been submitted as of September 30, 2021, and 100% construction drawings will be complete by the end of the 2021 calendar year.
Phase 2 has also included the expansion of the project to include improvements to a 6.5-mile round trip trail that would connect the Nature Preserve to the nearby Teichert Muller and Granite Woodland Reiff properties. An overall view of the project is included with this staff report as Attachment A. These improvements are consistent with the Board of Supervisors adopted Cache Creek Parkway Plan Baseline Inventory document.
Like the Cache Creek Nature Preserve, both the Muller and Reiff properties were former mining sites and have been reclaimed to habitat land uses. The 115-acre Granite Woodland Reiff property (APN #025-350-035) was donated to the County by Granite Construction Company in 2019. The 117-acre Teichert Muller property (APN #025-350-032) will be dedicated to the County by Teichert Land Company in early 2022. Both properties are included in the Cache Creek Parkway Plan property portfolio.
Public Outreach Process
Similar to Phase 1, Phase 2 included a significant public outreach effort, which occurred throughout the Summer of 2021. Below is a bulleted summary of outreach events. All meetings were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public outreach process was instrumental in developing the project as many suggestions from the public were incorporated into the current design options and project features, where appropriate.
- RISE, Inc. Meeting - August 16, 2021
- Project Development Team Meeting - August 19, 2021
- Boy Scouts of America Meeting - August 20, 2021
- Public Meeting - August 23, 2021
- Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance Meeting - September 2, 2021
- Project Development Team Meeting - September 30, 2021
- Online Survey - August through September 2021 (nearly 100 participants responded)
In addition to the above meetings, the Project Team met frequently with the Cache Creek Conservancy to ensure the design of the new visitor center would meet their programming needs to carry out their organization's mission.
The County’s architect team put together three design options for consideration by the Committee on Capital Investments on October 19, 2021. The slide deck, which includes renderings and cost estimates, is included in Attachment A. The design options presented are as follows:
This design option would include construction of a 6,753 SF visitor center and a 2,621 SF tool building. Based on feedback from the public, the visitor center would be masonry block construction and finished with metal accents and minimized venting and gaps. This aims for maximum fire resistance and durability, and reduces flooding risk with masonry construction. The visitor center would include approximately 1,871 SF of exhibit space, which would contain exhibits related to natural history and cultural history. The remaining building space would include restrooms, storage rooms for the displays, a catering kitchen, a teaching area, a board room conference space, and office space. The Option A visitor center building would be LEED certified.
The tool building would be a pre-engineered metal building. This building will include a vehicle bay and storage area, a tool room, a workshop, a laundry room, storage for pesticides and flammables, and storage for education materials.
The key feature of this design option is the installation of 20,000 SF of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the visitor center. These panels would provide 70 megawatt hour (mwh) per year to provide zero net energy however have a significant payback period. The estimated cost for this option is $12,336,013 (escalated to 2023 dollars).
This design option would include everything provided in "Option A" except for the installation of the solar panels. Although solar is not included in this option, the visitor center would be constructed with solar capabilities and could accommodate solar panels, should they be desired in the future. The Option B visitor center would be LEED certified. The estimated cost for this option is $10,236,013 (escalated to 2023 dollars). Option B was the Committee on Capital Investments’ preferred option, and will be the design submitted for grant funding per Board approval.
This design option is considered the "value engineered" option. This option would not include a concrete masonry visitor center building, rather a fully fitted out pre-engineered metal building with all systems. The Option C visitor center has a high chance of being LEED certified, but staff would need to confirm that the requirements are adequately met. This option would also not include the construction of the tool building; however, the site work needed to support a tool building in the future would still be done. This option also does not include solar installation. The estimated cost for this option is $7,822,047 (escalated to 2023 dollars)
Consistent Project Features
The following features are consistent in the cost estimates across all three design options:
Parkway Trail Improvements and Amenities
- Site work at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve that will include:
- Drilling a new well that will have capacity to fill a water tank that will provide fire protection
- Expanding the septic system to accommodate additional bathrooms
- Improving the electrical system to enhance services to the building
- Parkway Trail improvements and amenities
- Construction-related soft costs
- Plan review
- Construction support
- Record drawings
The trail component of the project includes the development of:
More details on the trail improvements is included with this staff report as Attachment B.
- Two trailheads (one at the western-most end of the trail at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve, and one at the eastern most end of the trail at the Granite Woodland Reiff property)
- 1.4 miles of "Tier 1" paved trail for universal access
- 1.9 miles of "Tier 2" compacted dirt/aggregate trail
- An accessible creek access point at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve
- 3 miles of other trail improvements (e.g., bench seating, picnic tables, interpretive signage)
- An at-grade pedestrian crossing that connects the trail across County Road 94B.
The Cache Creek Visitor Center & Trail project will greatly benefit the health and quality of life for youth, seniors, and families in the County by improving physical activity, cultural enrichment, and environmental education. The project will offer a unique destination to attract not only unincorporated residents who live near the project site, but also visitors from around Yolo County, the region, and the state because of its size, diversity of exhibits, distinctive nature opportunities, and new recreation opportunities.
For example, the project will provide opportunities for: people of all ages and abilities to travel short distances to sit in shaded areas, view wildlife, and/or spend time with friends and family; local health centers or non-profits to host exercise classes; individuals to walk or jog one of the longest nature trails in Yolo County; and a destination for people bicycling through the countryside to stop, fill up water, rest, and eat.
The project will result in providing one of the only significant opportunities in the area for residents to experience Native American culture. As visitors approach the visitors center, they will be greeted with the land acknowledgement statement of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation on the outside of the building. Inside the visitor center, the exhibit hall will house an expansive exhibit of culture and history related to the Patwin people in Northern California. Interpretive signs throughout the site will be developed in coordination with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and translate information into the Patwin language, adding opportunities people of all ages and abilities to experience Patwin culture.
In additional to cultural exhibits, the visitor center's exhibit hall will feature environmental exhibits to educate residents and visitors on the natural environmental of Yolo County. This will include information about the energy and water conservation techniques used to design the LEED-certified visitor center. In addition, there will be information about Putah and Cache Creeks and the local mining aggregate industry and restoration practices. The associated trail system will include interpretive signs to educate visitors on the local history, the environment, and wildlife native to Yolo County.
Grant Programs & Sources of Funding
The Natural Resources Division has identified two California Department of Parks and Recreation grant programs that could assist with the funding needed for construction of this project. Specifically, these programs are the Regional Park Program and the Rural Recreation and Tourism Program. More details on these grant programs (e.g., intent, eligible projects, match requirements) is included with this staff report as Attachment C. Applications to these grant programs are currently being drafted and will be submitted upon Board approval of the two resolutions attached to this staff report (Attachments D and E). The deadline for the grant applications is January 20, 2022; however, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has been encouraging prospective applicants to submit their applications as soon as possible.
As mentioned previously, the Committee on Capital Investments’ preferred design option (Option B) is projected to cost $10,236,013 (escalated to 2023 dollars). The maximum grant request from both grant programs is $3,000,000. However, since the same project is being submitted to both grant programs, it is not expected that the State will fund the project from both grant programs. Therefore, the maximum amount of State funding available for the project, should the full funding request be awarded, is $3,000,000.
Natural Resources Division staff has identified the Cache Creek Resources Management Plan (CCRMP) fund balance as an appropriate source of additional funding for this project. This project is consistent with the Gravel Mining Fee Ordinance and fees generated for the CCRMP can be used for this project. Through development of a financial forecasting model, staff (conservatively) estimates that there will be as much as $4.56M in CCRMP fund balance available at the end of FY 22/23 that can be contributed to the project. Natural Resources Division staff is currently working with Department of Financial Services staff on the development of a financing plan to fund the remaining $2.67M in estimated project costs.
If successful in grant applications, staff would return to the board in 2022 with funding strategies to complete the financing of the project and any options for Board consideration. If the grant applications are not successful, staff will continue to explore additional options to further the project.
Consero Solutions Work Authorization Amendment
On April 28 2021, a Work Authorization in the amount of $65,000 was executed with Consero Solutions to provide project management during Phase 2 of the project, as well as to write the grant applications. Staff is proposing to amend the Work Authorization to increase the maximum compensation by $22,000 for a new total of $87,000 (Attachment F). This increase is necessary to see the grant applications and design process through completion as the current budget is not sufficient to cover remaining activities. The current budget was met quicker than expected due to more public meetings being held, as well as more staff time spent on managing the design option process.