Mill Bend update- new Project Manager Dave Shpak

Dave ShpakOn December 7, 2020, a cool and sparkling day, the gulls circled and landed on the Gualala estuary, oblivious to the human plans to conserve and restore their habitat.

It was a special “pass the baton” day for Kathleen Chasey, RCLC board member.  Kathleen had been the lead board member on the Mill Bend project efforts.  She capably sought out grants, collaborated with state and federal authorities and community partners.  She also studied all the needed regulations for conservation projects and launched a planning process for the 113 acres in the Gualala River estuary and adjacent uplands.

On December 7, she reports she was “thrilled” to pass that task over to Dave Shpak, Mill Bend’s new part-time project manager.  The funding for that position comes from a state grant to develop a conservation and recreation plan.

Shpak is a graduate of UC Davis and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has long-term experience in environmental, land use and infrastructure planning, in the public, academic and private sectors.

His most recent position was with WSP USA as a project manager for the California High-Speed Rail program. Before working with WSP, Shpak was the first park development manager for the City of West Sacramento.

He will coordinate with the RCLC board, multiple government agencies, Mill Bend Technical Advisory Group, PCI, and the community to formulate the project plan.

RCLC has hired Prunuske Chatham Inc. (PCI), an environmental consulting firm, to create recommendations for Mill Bend restoration, trail and public access improvements.  Watch for a Mill Bend Zoom forum in the spring to hear more about Mill Bend development and to “meet” Dave Shpak.

Shpak knows the importance of the Mill Bend project.  “This property is the front door to Gualala and Mendocino County.” He adds, “We have a long way ahead of us to fully realize the contributions of Mill Bend to the community and natural environment. My approach is to help RCLC do what can be done as they are ready and able, and to make steady, incremental progress to build momentum and demonstrate progress to stakeholders.”

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy welcomes Dave Shpak to the Mill Bend team. He is a local resident and is married to Susan Wolbarst, who is a reporter for the ICO. Their son Zachary is a registered nurse at RCMS.

To support ongoing progress on Mill Bend development, RCLC welcomes donations, which can be made at



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