Tractor in front of the old barn across from the Park office.

Initially founded under the umbrella of the Southern Humboldt Working Together, the Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP) incorporated as its own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in March of 2002.

Our Non-profit Purpose:

To own, operate and maintain one or more parks for the benefit of the Southern Humboldt Community, its visitors and guests.

The Formation of the Park

“These trees, the river and the glades all belong to the ages” –Mrs. E.N. Tooby

What we all call Tooby Park is more than most eyes see. Not only is there a sunny picnic area, playground and access to the river beach, but a remarkable 7+ acre mature redwood grove.

In 1967 Mrs. E.N. Tooby made this site available to the County of Humboldt. The site was to be used by the citizens of Southern Humboldt as a community park honoring the three Tooby brothers. She placed a plaque near the grove with this description:

“These trees, the river and the glades all belong to the ages, what they have to offer in inspiration is yours to now enjoy.”

The Beginnings

When the family talked about donating this land, the County was enthusiastic. However, no legal parcel for the park area was created. Instead of assuming ownership, the County entered into a year-by-year lease agreement. When the Tooby Ranch was sold, the sale included rights to Tooby Park for the Community Park. The Tooby heirs understood that the County would still want to lease and operate the park.

The Early Years

Maintenance costs were a problem for the County for several years. The Garberville Rotary Club generously assisted the County with those costs. However, during the 2002 County budget crisis the County realized it could no longer maintain responsibility for the Park. The Southern Humboldt Community Park stepped forward, as the legal owners of the property, and offered to operate Tooby Park. To keep Mrs. Tooby’s inspiration alive, the public enjoyment of this area and protection of the redwood grove is now part of the broader mission of the Community Park.

With the passing of Mr. Tooby in 1999, the 13,600+ acre ranch that he had owned in southern Humboldt County for the previous several decades came onto the market.

Fear of Subdivision

Many residents of the Garberville area long admired the spacious, fertile, bucolic meadow land stretching along the south bank of the Eel River. On this about 500 acres situated only a mile or so from the middle of town. Mr. Tooby had lived and grazed cattle. A common fear was that this idyllic plot would surely eventually be subdivided and lost to unimaginative residential development.

Local Heroes to the Rescue

But immediately on announcement of the impending sale of the Tooby Ranch, Stephen Dazey, a local business owner and 30-year resident of southern Humboldt stepped in with a visionary idea: to negotiate the purchase of this uniquely desirable small portion of the Ranch with the goal of establishing it as a locally-controlled, multi-purpose regional park for the permanent benefit and enjoyment of the surrounding community.

Bob McKee entered escrow on the Ranch and embraced the concept. Because of large financial obligations, McKee agreed to sell the roughly 430 acres which would become the Park for  $1,125,000, with a condition. A down payment of $ 600,000 was due by the October closing date. 

Stephen Dazey immediately embarked on a marathon campaign to inspire the community’s enthusiasm and financial commitment to the project. Under the auspices of an existing local non-profit umbrella group (Southern Humboldt Working Together), Dazey assembled donations and arranged loans sufficient to meet that deadline.

Public Use of the Park

Donors for the projected Park purchase suggested a broad range of potential public uses. (To see the possible uses suggested in the Park Proposal packet dated October 18th, 2000 please Click Here.) Public meetings assessed which of these directions had the most immediate public support. 

The new entity, the Southern Humboldt Community Park, incorporated on March 5, 2002. It was now a non-profit public-benefit corporation under the broad concepts of social, civic, educational, and recreational purposes, qualifying for tax treatment under IRS code section 501(c)(3).

A board of six directors with varied and complementary skills and experience was assembled to serve as a governing body.  In addition to the usual responsibilities of such a board, the Park’s board solicits project ideas from groups in the community prepared to implement those ideas. It approves ideas consistent with the Park’s stated goals.  The Board oversees projects to avoid potential interference among them. It establishes agreements with the various users to that end, but neither initiates nor takes responsibility for the execution of specific projects. The Board handles maintenance and infrastructure improvements for the Park in general.

Initial Community Process

In 2002, the Southern Humboldt Community Park conducted a series of community meetings that included two scoping sessions with facilitation and an all day Conceptual Design Charrette with three architects: Kash Boodjeh, Tyler Holmes and Martha Jain, all serving as advisors. The three workshops were titled: The Long-term/Future Possibilities, The Near Future, and a Conceptual Design Charrette. A donation of talent from the three architects made the Design Charrette possible. The Humboldt Area Foundation funded, in part, the community sessions.

These facilitated public planning efforts led to the development of the Park’s Stewardship Priorities.