Taylor Mountain Regional Park reaches new milestone with dedication of Red Tail Play Area

Sonoma County Regional ParksSonoma County Regional Parks has constructed and opened a nature-inspired outdoor play area where kids and families can connect with the natural world at Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve.

“The new Red Tail Play Area is a place for families and kids to unleash creativity, build strong bodies and minds, breathe fresh air and create memories with loved ones,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker.  “With this opening, we celebrate another significant addition to Taylor Mountain Regional Park and strengthen our commitment to equal access for all people to outdoor recreation and natural spaces – and their proven benefits for mental and physical health.”

The Red Tail Play Area is the first of its kind in an area of southeast Santa Rosa that has been traditionally underserved with outdoor recreation opportunities.

The play area is located at the park’s Petaluma Hill Road entrance, adjacent to the picnic area at the base of Red Tail Trail, which leads into the 1,100-acre park.

Forgoing the brightly colored steel and plastic found at conventional playgrounds, the Red Tail Play Area draws inspiration from the natural landscape of Taylor Mountain, using landform and natural construction materials, like rock and wood, which blend with the surrounding environment.

The community play area includes a basket-style swing, a logjam climbing area, an embankment slide, and a replica, super-sized red-tailed hawk nest that encourages children to add natural materials to it. Interactivity is fundamental to the play area’s design, which encourages creativity and free play, an essential part of holistic healthy child development. An accessible trail ties the entire site together.

Much like the development of Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, the construction of the Red Tail Play Area was a collaborative effort, pooling state and local support from partners such as the Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District, California State Parks and Sonoma County voters who approved the local Measure M parks sales tax in 2018. Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation donors contributed $250,000 to make the play area possible.“

The Parks Foundation is proud to have played a key role in bringing this exciting play space to fruition,” said Melissa Kelley, executive director of the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation. “We are particularly interested in supporting Regional Parks’ projects that introduce children to nature and that serve historically disadvantaged communities. We are deeply grateful to the many donors who contributed to this vital new feature at Taylor Mountain.”

The opening of the Red Tail Play Area marks another milestone in the implementation of the master plan for the regional park and open space preserve, which was approved after extensive public outreach in 2012, and will guide future trail construction, amenities and educational programming.

The Red Tail Play Area is open for physically distanced recreation with COVID-safe protocols. Face masks are required for everyone 2 or older. Families must limit playground visits to 30 minutes per day when others are present and are encouraged to visit at non-peak hours or days to avoid crowds. Bathrooms are available on site. For more information about how to keep your family and other visitors safe, visit <u>socoemergency.org/outdoor-playgrounds-can-reopen-with-covid-19-restrictions</u>.

For more details on the Red Tail Play Area and to find a park map, visit parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Visit/Taylor-Mountain-Regional-Park-and-Preserve/. Parking is $7 or free for Regional Parks members.