Photo courtesey of Redwood Coast Land Conservancy
Copyright 2018, Independent Coast Observer, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
The Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) has launched the final phase of its $2.7 million campaign to preserve Mill Bend and is seeking the last $205,000 needed to preserve and protect Mill Bend in perpetuity as a community-owned park.
The RCLC hopes to complete this final phase of the campaign by fall. When the goal is reached, the RCLC will be able to close escrow on the property and begin planning for the long-term preservation, restoration and public access for the Mill Bend site.
“Preserving the Land, Restoring the River and Sustaining Our Community” is the theme of the campaign to acquire the Mill Bend site. Plans for the property include an extensive network of trails and improved public access to the Gualala River. Mendonoma locals should watch their mailboxes for more information on how to become involved.
A view of the Mill Bend property from the Gualala Point Park side in Sonoma County. Photo courtesy of Redwood Coast Land Conservancy
“Imagine nearly three miles of trails starting from town and winding along the river, through a restored redwood forest and a beautiful coastal meadow,” said Kathleen Chasey, the RCLC’s volunteer Mill Bend Project Manager. “Once we finalize the acquisition, we can begin accessing the site and planning in earnest to restore degraded habitat, build a thoughtful trail network for hiking and provide improved access along the river for kayaking in the lagoon and paddling the river.”
The 113-acre Mill Bend site extends on both sides of the Highway 1 bridge in Mendocino County and on both sides of the river. The site is adjacent to the Gualala Point Regional Park and is the gateway to the Gualala River watershed. It is the first step in long-term plans for a Gualala River Park.
Purchase of the property will enable the RCLC and its partners at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for visitors. They will be able to enjoy sightings of the many species of wildlife, birds and wildflowers on the site, including bald eagles, osprey, otters, turtles, frogs, steelhead and Coho salmon.
With $2,495,000 in major grants and community contributions already in place, the RCLC is close to raising the $2.7 million needed to acquire and steward Mill Bend. “It is exciting to be so close to our goal,” said RCLC President Tina Batt. “I want to thank the Allemall Foundation, our lead donors Larry Jacobs and Mirka Knaster, Susan Clark, Cindy Kennedy, the Resource Legacy Foundation and the many other donors for their generous contributions.”
RCLC agency and foundation partners include Gualala Arts, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Regional Parks, Friends of the Gualala River, California Native Plant Society DKY Chapter, Mendocino Land Trust, Gualala River Watershed Council, California State Coastal Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife and the California Natural Resource Agency. All have provided strong support and commitment to the project.
The Gualala Arts Center, whose property is adjacent to the Mill Bend site, is partnering with the RCLC to help maintain the overflow parking area located on the Mill Bend property, so that the area can continue to accommodate major events at the Arts Center.
Once the current COVID-19 restrictions are eased enough to allow group gatherings again, the RCLC will resume offering tours of Mill Bend, where people will have an opportunity to share plans and ideas for the site.
The RCLC invites locals, visitors and business owners to contribute to this significant project for the community.
More information about the RCLC and about tours and plans for Mill Bend can be found on the RCLC website at www.rclc.org. Contributions for the Mill Bend project can be made to the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy via its website or by sending a check to P.O. Box 1511, Gualala, CA 95445.