Mill Bend Springtime, Partnering for Gualala River

Mill Bend Springtime, Partnering for Gualala River

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy had an open house on Sunday April 24 as part of Earth Day Weekend, inviting the community to visit the Upper Mill Bend Conservation area.

We led guided walking tours, and were happy to be able to show our new revitalized hiking trails, the extensive clearing of invasives, the history of the Mill and Pioneer Cemetery, and our plans for expanding public access with a focus on habitat rehabilitation.

As part of the event we were joined by The Stream Team to demonstrate their plans for engaging community volunteers in monitoring our river’s water quality while promoting awareness and education about the health of the Gualala River and its estuary.

Our event was also a great chance to interact with several of our conservation partners, including Friends of Gualala River, Mendocino Coast Audubon, the Dorothy King Young chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Sea Ranch Coastal Stewardship Task Force and the Gualala Climate Action group.

We would like to thank all the visitors for their enthusiasm and interest. Mill Bend’s 113-acre preserve is a jewel that serves as the gateway to Mendocino County and our local community involvement is a game-changer.

Vehicle apparently damages Cooks Beach approach with repeated passes up and down stairs, over berm; 2nd incident this year

Vehicle apparently damages Cooks Beach approach with repeated passes up and down stairs, over berm; 2nd incident this year

Above Photo: The access steps to Cooks Beach taken this weekend after the steps and nearby berm were damaged by an unknown motorist.

Published by the Independent Coast Observer, October 29, 2021

Photos by Joel Chaban

The access steps to Cooks Beach before damage by an unknown vehicle driving up and down tore them up. The photo was taken as part of an application to the California Coastal Commission to install bollards protecting the bluff top.

The recent storm is not the only thing causing damage to local beaches. According to Joel Chaban, secretary of Redwood Coast Land Conservancy, it appears a pickup truck drove up and down the bluff top steps used as an entrance to Cooks Beach in the last few days, causing damage to the steps.

In addition, the driver drove up and down the berm adjacent to these stairs, Chaban said.

“This berm, previously eroded by a wedding party event a couple of months ago, now has several long deep gouges on the ocean side of the berm that run in several directions,” he explained.

“The earth has also been gouged along both sides of the stairs and on the stairs where it appears the tires were spinning in an attempt to drive up the stairs.”

The wedding Chaban described was done without permission from RCLC, Mendocino County or the California Coastal Commission, and had already caused erosion to the berm before the recent vehicle damage.

Currently there is no plan to do any repairs at Cooks beach, said Chaban, who is the project manager for that beach. “I will try to get down there and do some repairs on the stairs and put down some wood chips to protect them from foot traffic,” he said, adding that RCLC is in the process of applying for Coastal Commission and County permits to put up bollards to prevent any driving on the bluff top.

However, it will take several months to get the permits, he said.

“I ironically took the ‘before’ photos a week be fore the latest damage to develop design drawings for the bollards required by the County and Coastal Commission,” Chaban added. “In the meantime, the ground is wet and will get wetter! Be thoughtful and careful.”

Cooks Beach, just north of Gualala, is one of four properties in Mendonoma stewarded by RCLC. The others include the Gualala Bluff Trail, Hearn Gulch and Mill Bend.

Mill Bend Access road now closed to vehicles sunset to sunrise

Mill Bend Access road now closed to vehicles sunset to sunrise

Photo: RCLC volunteer Marcia Nybakken stands by closed access gate to the Mill Bend property in Gualala. Photo courtesy of RCLC

To improve security at the Mill Bend boat launch site, the gate to the access site will now be closed to vehicle traffic sunset to sunrise, according to Redwood Coast Land Conservancy which owns the property.

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy is now partnering with Sonoma County Parks staff who will lock the gate each night. Pedestrians and boaters will be able to enter the area and haul in kayaks or canoes.

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy, Mendonoma’s local land trust, is managing the 113-acre Mill Bend property with the goal of providing both responsible stewardship as well as public access to the site.

Mountain lion seen at Mill Bend

Mountain lion seen at Mill Bend

A mountain lion was sighted on Mill Bend the week of July 25, 2021. Hikers and visitors are advised to be alert when visiting areas where a big cat has been spotted. Do not run if you see one. Keep young children and pets close.

These large predators are a normal part of the ecosystem and have a wide range of territory so it may have moved on by now. Please report any sightings to Redwood Coast Land Conservancy by calling (707) 884-4426 or emailing

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash

Mendocino Land Trust shares staff resources with RCLC

Mendocino Land Trust shares staff resources with RCLC

Photo above by Mendocino Land Trust, Board members from MLT and RCLC meet to tour Mill Bend

Press Release: July 19, 2021
For more information, please contact Amy Wolitzer at

There is good news for the future of conservation along the Mendocino Coast. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, the Mendocino Land Trust and the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy will be teaming up to maximize use of their staffing to achieve conservation goals. The two organizations have received a nonprofit operations relief grant to help make up for time and staffing lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) was founded in 1992 to preserve and restore coastal properties from the Russian River in northern Sonoma County to the Navarro River in southern Mendocino County. Until recently, it was almost exclusively a volunteer-run organization. The Mendocino Land Trust was founded in 1976. Based out of Fort Bragg, it has been instrumental in the conservation of more than 20,000 acres throughout Mendocino County and is well-known as a nonprofit leader in establishing and maintaining public access trails.

MLT currently has six staff members, including a conservation manager with a demonstrated talent for writing successful grant proposals to fund environmental restoration and public access projects.

Partnering with other conservation organizations has been a win-win for MLT in the past. “RCLC is working on the most exciting conservation and public access project on the coast,” says MLT executive director Conrad Kramer, referring to RCLC’s acquisition of the Mill Bend property and its plans to restore and improve it for public access. “It will be a win for the environment, a win for outdoor recreation, and a win for the local economy. We are happy to help them with it. Triple wins are what land trusts do.”

The staff-sharing arrangement will serve both organizations as they work to coordinate land acquisition and management activities in the region. This partnership will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of both organizations, as well as support joint organizational capacity building with a cost-effective solution.

Future collaborative conservation projects include preparing a Conceptual Area Protection Plan for the Gualala River Watershed. This plan will assess the extent of endangered and listed species of concern. Completion of the plan will qualify both the RCLC and MLT for state funding to acquire priority properties in the study area, as they become available.

“RCLC is thrilled with the opportunity to collaborate with MLT and we’re grateful for the
generous contribution by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County that made it
possible. Working together we will greatly expand our abilities to preserve our natural coastal landscapes and wildlife habitats for the benefit of our community and future generations,” said Christina Batt, RCLC Board President.
Visit to learn more about RCLC’s Mill Bend conservation project.

Photos: Hi-resolution files available upon request – email

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