Illustration: Greenway Partners.

The Sequoia Park Zoo could have a new “Redwood Canopy Skywalk” — a tromp through the redwoods at least 60 feet above ground level — as soon as 2020, thanks to contributions from local tourism organizations that were announced at a press conference this afternoon.

All told, three groups — the Humboldt Lodging Alliance, the Eureka Lodging Alliance and the Arcata Lodging Alliance — pledged some $1.7 million to fund the project this afternoon, at a meeting of dignitaries in the Zoo’s Flamingo Room. The Eureka City Council is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the organization at its meeting this evening to seal the deal.

Mike Dearden, president of the board of directors of the Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation, told the Outpost this afternoon that construction is expected to begin in the fall.

The skywalk is just one feature of Phase II of the Zoo Master Plan, an ambitious, long-term effort to update and remake the Zoo. In addition to the skywalk, Phase II includes a “Native Predator” exhibit, featuring mountain lions, black bear and coyotes, which the skywalk will pass above before venturing outside the bounds of the zoo into the tall trees of Sequoia Park.

“Canopy walks” are increasingly popular tourist attractions in areas with tall trees. The Greenheart TreeWalk in Vancouver, which ascends up into a forest of cedars and Doug fir, has become one of that city’s most popular features. Even New Zealand’s odd forest of transplanted redwoods has its own canopy walk now.

The lodging alliances are asking for certain terms from the city of Eureka in exchange for the $1.7 million they’ve pledged — they want the skywalk to go at least 60 feet above ground, and “preferably” around 95 feet, and they want to sign off on the project’s final design.

The Eureka City Council meets tonight at Eureka City Hall (531 K Street, Eureka). The regular city council meeting starts at 6 p.m. A special meeting on the C-to-F Waterfront Plan precedes it at 4 p.m.

Press release from the Zoo follows.

The map of the Sequoia Park Zoo, after the master plan is implemented.

Busting out the big checks. Photo: Andrew Goff.

Gretchen Ziegler, zoo director. Photo: Andrew Goff.

Press release from the Sequoia Park Zoo:

The Sequoia Park Zoo will hold a press conference to officially announce new funding that has been awarded by the Humboldt Lodging Alliance, the Eureka Lodging Alliance, and the State of California in support of Phase II of the Zoo Master Plan, which includes the Redwood Canopy Walk and Native Predator exhibits. This tremendous local and regional support showcases the importance of the Zoo Master Plan and in particular the Redwood Canopy Walk to become a premier tourist destination in the region.

This will be an opportunity to learn about the project and its importance from the Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation, the City of Eureka, representatives from the local Lodging Alliances and project managers Greenway Partners. Please join us!

This Phase II expansion, combining species native to the area and featuring the only redwood canopy walk in North America, is poised to deliver an unparalleled experience that will drive attendance growth from across the United States and internationally. An integral part of the Zoo experience and anchored in the Native Predators zone, the Redwood Canopy Walk will educate and engage tourists and regional residents in an eco-adventure like no other. See attached conceptual drawing. The adjacent Native Predators exhibits will be funded concurrently through the Zoo Foundation’s capital campaign of generous local and regional contributors, thus adding to this one-of-a-kind experience.

Illustration: Greenway Partners.

We can still haz red panda too. Photo: AG.