Mill Bend

The historic Mill Bend property was purchased by a conservation buyer in September, 2019.  It’s now being held so Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) can raise funds to purchase it.

RCLC started a community fundraising drive in 2020 to raise the needed amount. Some funds will come from public agency grants, but public grants for this also require community contributions for stewardship of the property. See the Mill Bend Campaign page here.

The scenic Mill Bend property contains an estuary and wetlands, which are critical habitat for many species of fish, including endangered Coho salmon and Steelhead.

Once the property is in our land trust, we can start planning for riverfront trails and better river access for fishermen and paddlers.  Protection of the sensitive area from off-road vehicles will also be a goal.

Kathleen Chasey, Mill Bend Project Manager and RCLC Director, has been a strong advocate for protecting this property.  “Mill Bend is the gateway to the Gualala River Watershed and the front porch of our community.  It offers incredible opportunities for important habitat restoration and to connect wildlife corridors. Future trailbuilding will also add a missing section of the California Coastal Trail.”

FACTS ABOUT MILL BEND

The Mill Bend property consists of two riverfront parcels totaling about 113 acres.

Mill Bend is a 54-acre parcel situated along the Gualala Estuary west of Highway One. Securing this property will provide an opportunity to extend the California Coastal Trail south from the Gualala Bluff Trail through Mill Bend and on to the Sonoma County Regional Park and The Sea Ranch.

The Upper Mill parcel is a 59-acre property east of Highway One which extends from the river to the Gualala Arts Center.  Securing the property will ensure that the site will be preserved for its conservation values and will provide greater community access to the river.

The Gualala River Estuary provides an important freshwater environment for young steelhead, a small Coho salmon population, the Gualala roach, and other fish species.

Red-legged frogs, harbor seals, river otters, osprey and a pair of bald eagles are among the wildlife species that live along the river.

The purchase of the Mill Bend property will forever protect this valuable estuary and provide opportunities for restoration of critical habitat for salmonids and other fish.

 

Public Access The riverbank has provided historic public access to the river in the past. Unfortunately, truck and off-highway vehicles driving in the willow wetlands and gravel banks has degraded the riverbed.

Purchase will allow improvements to be made to protect the environmentally sensitive habitat of endangered and threatened species and will provide for responsible public access.

The Mill Bend property includes 13 acres on the south bank of the river directly adjacent to Sonoma County’s Gualala Point Regional Park. Its purchase would allow the existing park boundaries to be extended to the estuary.

Potential Future Expansion As the gateway to the Gualala River, Mill Bend is a key piece in the long-term plan for the Gualala River Park envisioned by the community and Sonoma County.

History– In late 2017, when the two key parcels along the Mill Bend in the Gualala River became available for sale for the first time in over 60 years, RCLC and other local conservation groups formed the Mill Bend Coalition.  They sought to find a way to acquire this property and forever preserve the natural features of the scenic gateway to the Gualala River watershed.

A generous conservation buyer set up a Gualala River Park LLC to hold the property while RCLC raised the funds needed for its permanent protection.

Mendocino Land Trust took an early lead in working with RCLC to identify potential funders and to set up the necessary environmental testing of the site.

As the project moved forward, RCLC has taken the lead role in working with the conservation buyer and will lead the community effort to fund the purchase and stewardship of the property.

Contributions–RCLC is now seeking funds for the purchase and stewardship of Mill Bend.  See the Mill Bend Campaign page for more information. Contributions can be made to the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy at https://www.rclc.org/give/donate or by sending a check to P.O. Box 1511, Gualala, CA 95445.

“I have been a supporter of this project from the start and have been glad to advocate on behalf of Redwood Coast Land Conservancy so they can obtain vital funding.  Restoring and preserving these lands will not only bring much-needed recreational value to the area, but it will have long-lasting benefits for our invaluable coastal wetlands and uplands habitat.”

Jared Huffman, U.S. Congressman, CA. Second District

The Mill Bend Conservation Project, located at the mouth of the Gualala River, is an exciting opportunity for the Mendonoma region.

Click on the image below to view Mill Bend planning or go to this infographic.

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy public access protected properties

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