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.

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 amy@mendocinolandtrust.org.

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 www.rclc.org/mill-bend-conservation to learn more about RCLC’s Mill Bend conservation project.

Photos: Hi-resolution files available upon request – email amy@mendocinolandtrust.org
Hands-on volunteers drive land conservancy projects

Hands-on volunteers drive land conservancy projects

By J. Stephen McLaughlin
news@mendonoma.com

Inspired by Lucy Olmstead's marker, volunteer Loren Adrian crafted and installed similar wooden markers to dignity graves of unknown occupants in the historic cemetery. Steve McLaughlin photo.

It takes more than tax-deductible donations and grant funding to realize the ambitious projects of the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy. On Saturday, the 30-year-old grass-roots conservation organization honored more than 75 hands-on volunteers at an event at its newest acquisition, the 113-acre Mill Bend property on the Gualala River.

President Tina Batt said many of the volunteers show up day after day and week after week to clear trails, remove invasive pampas grass, and maintain all the group’s coastal access projects, including the Gualala Bluff Trail, Cook’s Beach access trail, and Hearn Gulch.

This 120-year-old metal marker for the grave of Lucy Olmstead was found on the rotted wood plank in the background.  Adrian restored it with new wood "headstone." Steve McLaughlin photo.

After months of work by dedicated volunteers, with funds donated by those same volunteers, the cemetery has been cleared of overgrowth; headstones and markers have been restored, and signs have been placed throughout the cemetery with researched information about the lives of the people buried there. A rebuilt fence and restored sign defines the cemetery.

One of the most dramatic achievements so far has been the restoration of the historic Gualala Cemetery on the Mill Bend property, which was nearly invisible a year ago because of the tangled jungle of brush and overgrown trees.

After months of work by dedicated volunteers, with funds donated by those same volunteers, the cemetery has been cleared of overgrowth; headstones and markers have been restored, and signs have been placed throughout the cemetery with researched information about the lives of the people buried there. A rebuilt fence and restored sign defines the cemetery.

Mill Bend project manager Dave Shpak led volunteers on a tour of some of the trails and restoration in progress.  Steve McLaughlin photo.

Batt told the ICO that the cemetery has had more people “visiting for the right reasons,” that is, respectful historical interest.

During tours of the Mill Bend site, project manager Dave Shpak explained some of the environmental choices the organization must consider as it undertakes restoration and plan access improvements.

More information on RCLC and its projects is available at www.rclc.org.

New 113-acre preserve on Sonoma-Mendocino line aims to bolster Gualala River recovery

New 113-acre preserve on Sonoma-Mendocino line aims to bolster Gualala River recovery

By Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT, March 29, 2021

Dave Shpak, Mill Bend project manager, right, and John Walton, vice president of the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy board, stand on a bluff overlooking the mouth of the Gualala River and the 113-acre Mill Bend Preserve recently acquired by the group on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

(Excerpt reprint courtesy of The Press Democrat)

Standing above the Gualala River, his gaze toward the opposite bank and a sharp hairpin turn in the river known as Mill Bend, Dave Shpak recounted more than a century of environmental abuses there as somberly if they were still taking place.
In a way, they are.

Though the last of three industrial-scale lumber mills — two right at the edge of the river and a third, up the hill — ceased operations in 1963, the estuary has only just begun recovering from decades of degradation that altered the river bed, diminished the aquatic habitat and denuded the surrounding embankments of native plants to make room for sawing logs.

But Shpak and the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy, for which he started working this past winter, are now in charge of 113 acres of land along 1.5 miles of river just up from its mouth, a property now known as Mill Bend Preserve. They’re currently in the throes of long-term planning that puts the health of the landscape and the life it supports above all else.

Continued at the Press Democrat link here.

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