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.

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.

Article about Mill Bend Campaign in the ICO…just $15K needed

Article about Mill Bend Campaign in the ICO…just $15K needed

The Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) has announced that it is less than $15,000 away from reaching its challenging goal of raising $2.7 million to secure the magnificent Mill Bend site at the mouth of the Gualala River as a permanent, community-owned park.  

In June, RCLC launched the final $600,000 phase of its Campaign to Preserve Mill after securing $2.1 million in government grants. “The public response to this final phase of our campaign has been phenomenal”, says Christina Batt, president of the local land trust. “The community has really stepped up to make sure this beautiful piece of land is preserved as a park forever”.

Once the final $15,000 is raised, RCLC will be able to close escrow on the property and start planning for the long-term preservation and restoration of the Mill Bend site.

RCLC will be presenting “Mill Bend, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”, a live online presentation on Sunday, August 30 to bring everyone up to date on next steps for Mill Bend.  The presentation, which will be held at 3pm via Zoom, will also provide an opportunity for community input on improving public access for the Mill Bend site.

The 113-acre Mill Bend site, located south of Gualala on both sides of the Highway One Bridge, extends along the Gualala River estuary at the mouth of the Gualala River and, as the gateway to the Gualala River watershed, is the first step in long-term plans for a Gualala River Park. “Preserving the Land, Restoring the River and Sustaining Our Community” is the theme of the campaign to acquire this significant site for the community. Plans for the property also include an extensive network of trails and improved public access to the river.

Purchase of the property will enable RCLC to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for visitors 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.

RCLC submitted successful grant applications for $2.1 million in state and federal grants and has raised more than $585,000 from foundations and the local community for the acquisition, project planning and stewardship of the strikingly beautiful site at the mouth of the Gualala River. Once the property is acquired, RCLC will be responsible for the ongoing stewardship of the site and for providing public access and restoring the habitat of the river and the terrain that surrounds it.

Founded in 1992, Redwood Coast Land Conservancy is a local land trust based in Gualala and supported primarily by local volunteers and by donors near and far. In partnership with California State Coastal Conservancy, RCLC has set aside and protected multiple scenic public access areas along the southern Mendocino Coast, including the Gualala Bluff Trail, Cooks Beach and Hearn Gulch Preserve. RCLC also holds local conservation easements for habitat protection and enhancement.  Further information about Mill Bend and the August 30 online presentation is on the RCLC website, www.rclc.org.  Members of the public are encouraged to fill out the community survey which will be available on the RCLC website following the presentation. Contributions for the Mill Bend campaign 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.

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