Jun 6, 2020 Sonoma County Gazette
The primary goal of the California Coastal Act, approved by voters in 1976, is ensuring and providing for public access to the state’s shoreline and ocean.
One of the dreams imbedded in that goal is the creation of a continuous trail along the coast from the Oregon border to Mexico, the California Coastal Trail.
It’s a breath-taking dream
The California Coastal Trail (CCT), when completed, will rival the famed Appalachian Trail in the eastern U.S. Roughly 1150 miles long, it would encompass 800 miles of coastline with twists and turns, swift rises with equally swift descents, braided together through beaches, bluffs, roadways, stairways and boardwalks. The CCT will provide a ribbon of protection for coastal access and preservation of coastal resources along the California Coast.
View from a section of the California Coastal Trail. Image: unofficialnetworks.com
The Coastal Act mandated that each coastal county and city, as part of developing their own Local Coastal Plan, include the planning and implementation of the California Coastal Trail through their jurisdictions.
Sonoma County has done so since the mid-1970’s, with considerable success. About two thirds of the county’s 65 miles of the California Coastal Trail has been completed, and planning for the remaining gaps is included in the current Draft Local Coastal Plan.
Enormous thanks are due to the local citizens’ groups, regional and state parks agencies, nonprofit organizations and public funding agencies, whose hard work has brought us this far.
One of the leading organizations in that effort was, and continues to be, Coastwalk/California Coastal Trail Association, the statewide advocacy group for the Coastal Trail, formed in 1980, and headquartered in Sebastopol.
Morgan (Mo)(very left) and Joce (Jo) second from right, interns at the CA coastal trail association, embarked on an expedition from Oregon to Mexico on the California Coastal Trail in the summer of 2016. Richard Nichols, former Executive Director of Coastwalk California and one of the 1996 CCT thru-hikers and his wife Brenda (second from left) met up with them along the trail and shared their favorite memories of Coastwalk in its heyday and told Jo an Mo about the founder of Coastwalk, Bill Kortum, who was a coastal access activist and environmentalist. Image: coastwalk.org
Read more on the MoJo Coastwalk at https://coastwalk.org/?s=richard+nichols
Richard Nichols, a former Coastwalk Executive Director, and author of “Hiking the California Coastal Trail”, was instrumental in raising CCT awareness, securing planning funds, coordinating coastal county progress and yearly hikes, and two Coastal Trail thru-hikes from Oregon to Mexico.
Una Glass, a Sebastopol City Council member and former Coastwalk Executive Director, pushed and prodded Coastal Trail development through the lean years following the 2008 recession.
Cea Higgins, Executive Director of Coastwalk/California Coastal Trail Association congratulating honoree and co-founder Lucy Kortum May 2018- Image: www.facebook.com/coastwalk/
The current Coastwalk Executive Director, Cea Higgins, is a coastal resident and avid surfer. Cea is working to address impacts on the CCT such as sea level rise, and create opportunities for underrepresented communities to experience the CCT. Cea is also working to solve the current financial and social problems of Coastal Trail implementation.The 2020 Coastwalk Guided Hikes have been canceled due to the pandemic, which is impacting the financial well-being of the organization. Coastwalk continues to work with state, county and nonprofit organizations to support California Coastal Trail implementation.
You can join or donate to support the organization here: https://coastwalk.org/join-donate/
There are remaining gaps to completing the Coastal Trail in Sonoma County.
Blufftop homes along the Sea Ranch property. On the Sea Ranch property, the public trail dead ends at a “private trail,” which is only accessible to Sea Ranch homeowners and their guests. Today, you can walk through the full length of Sea Ranch if you are staying in the community. Image: coastwalk.org
Negotiations with Sea Ranch in the early 1980’s provided five neighborhood trails and beach access, a three-mile-long bluff top trail for public use, and a 120-acre donation to create Gualala Point Regional Park. Completion of the Coastal Trail would require a through trail 12 miles long (see map) from Gualala Point Regional Park south to connect with the proposed Kashia Coastal Preserve and Stewarts Point Ranch trails. Building this trail would require a considerable change in stance from Sea Ranch, where homeowners are wary of losing their privacy to hikers.
Click on map to view large zoomable and downloadable version. remaining gaps to completing the Coastal Trail in Sonoma County.
Another difficult area to implement is the seven-mile-long Highway 1 segment through Ocean Cove and Fort Ross ( see map). Highway 1, in places, is narrow and winding, and in numerous locations property owners have built into the highway right-of-way, complicating any planning process.A concerted planning effort was undertaken here, but natural and manmade complexities stalled the effort.
For the foreseeable future, Highway 1 will continue to be the Coastal Trail.
The management plan for the Jenner Headlands property (see map) includes a 2.5 mile segment of the Coastal Trail. Enhancement of the property has been underway by the Wildlands Conservancy for a decade. Public parking and restrooms and 15 miles of trails have recently been opened. When completed, the Jenner Headlands CCT segment will run from Russian Gulch to Jenner and connect with the Russian River Trail inland.
Jenner Headlands view. Image: Sonomacounty.com
South of the Russian River, the Carrington property (see map), soon to be added to the County Regional Park system, will provide two miles of Coastal Trail east of Highway 1 from Coleman Valley Road to Salmon Creek.
A Bodega Bay Trails Plan implementation has been ongoing for more than a decade, with Coastal Trail segments built both south and north of Bodega Bay such as the Coastal Prairie Trail.
Estero Ranch is riparian to the Estero Americano which meanders through the northern boundary of the ranch for over two miles
The recent acquisition of the Estero Ranch (see map) and subsequent CCT implementation will connect with the southern boundary of Bodega Harbour and traverse to the county line at the Estero Americano. Currently, the Coastal Trail south from Bodega Bay is on Highway 1.
A most difficult gap remains: how to construct a trail through Bodega Bay that will be affordable and provide maximum public safety for all trail users. A vital entity in Coastal Trail maintenance and improvement is CalTrans, especially in difficult areas such as Bodega Bay and Ocean Cove-Fort Ross. They are an integral part of Coastal Trail implementation.
Fisherboats at Bodega Harbor. Image: Frank Schulenburg / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
The dream of a continuous coastal trail has been actively pursued by hundreds of people and organizations for nearly fifty years. In reality, much has been accomplished but much work remains. The future will require the continued hard work of dedicated public agencies, nonprofits and coastal trail enthusiasts.
It’s a worthy, wonderful dream that, when finished, will provide beauty and enjoyment for future generations
“There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima . The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not aware of any recent activity at Fukushima, or any new data that would cause elevated radioactivity on California shores from the Fukushima incident. Recent tests by the San Mateo County public health department and CDPH show that elevated levels of radiation at Half Moon Bay are due to naturally occurring materials and not radioactivity associated with the Fukushima incident.
The volume of water in the Pacific Ocean has a significant diluting effect on radionuclides that are present and it is not anticipated that the concentration will increase in the waters off of the west coast. CDPH has collected and will be analyzing sand samples from Half Moon Bay. Results of the analysis will be posted on the CDPH Radiologic Health (RHB) website (http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/RHB-RadReport.aspx) as soon as the analysis is completed.”- California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch, January 10, 2014
CDPH also performs routine air and milk samples as required by California law. Slightly elevated air and milk samples were found during the initial phases of the Fukushima incident (March 2011) and the results were reported on CDPH RHB’s website (see link above). CDPH continues to monitor air, milk, kelp, and fish samples. CDPH’s monitoring is part of its on-going environmental monitoring program and will be publishing data on the CDPH RHB website by the end of this week.
CDPH has been in contact with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and they are monitoring the situation with the nuclear reactors in Japan. The FDA as well as the private entity Woods- Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have monitored fish from the Pacific and while minute levels of cesium were found in blue fin tuna most recent tests show even those small levels are declining. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is the coordinating Agency for response to international emergencies involving radioactive materials and the FDA is responsible for food safety. FDA’s hotline number is 888-723-3366. The USEPA, via their RadNet system, monitors the nation’s air, drinking water, precipitation, and pasteurized milk to determine levels of radiation in the environment. RadNet sample analyses and monitoring results provide baseline data on background levels of radiation in the environment and can detect increased radiation from radiological incidents, such as the Fukushima incident. You may visit the USEPA RadNet website at http://www.epa.gov/radnet/ and this site has a link regarding public questions.
Some additional useful links:
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) addresses threats to coastal areas. You can see information about their tracking of debris from Japan http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/tsunamidebris/
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides publically available reports on leakage and sea water radioactivity near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The last report can be found at: http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2013/japan-basic-policy6.html
The state of Oregon continues to test drinking water, rain water and sea water for radionuclides that could be associated with Fukushima. https://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/RadiationProtection/RadiationMonitoring/watermonitoring/Pages/waterdata.aspx
This year’s 30th Anniversary Season of Coastwalks is a hit! With registrations up from 2012 and several walks only a few spots away from selling out, be sure to make your reservation soon!
The Majestic Del Norte Coastwalk, back after a hiatus, and the San Luis Obispo Coastwalk have only a few spots left before moving on to a waitlist. And don’t forget about our Family Walks! Perfect for the younger Coastwalker and beginners. In need of something more advanced? Check out both the Trans Catalina Trail Coastwalk and the Lost Coast Backpack.
If you’d like to request a brochure, please email Stephanie at [email protected]
As the Sun Sets on 2012 …
We give thanks for all of our wonderful volunteers and supporters! It has been a busy year and much has been accomplished with their help: we are wrapping up 400 miles of Coastal Trail Signage, looking forward to building a new alliance of Coastal Trail jurisdictions, celebrating our second annual Sacramento Legislative reception and completed our 29th Season of coastal hiking and camping adventures. And, very sadly, we are mourning the loss of coastal hero, Peter Douglas … but also reveling in his leadership skills as will listen to new “Stories of the Coast” podcasts featuring Peter’s voice on Coastwalk’s web site. Following are a highlights of the past year …
Highlights of 2012
New Podcasts Featuring Coastal Hero Peter Douglas
In celebration of the Coastal Initiative’s 40th Anniversary, Coastwalk is offering new Podcasts that feature the voice of the late Peter Douglas. Peter, who was the Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, was also instrumental in the passage of Proposition 20, the California Coastal Initiative which passed in 1972. The Coastal Initiative led to the Coastal Act and founding of the California Coastal Commission and then the State Coastal Conservancy. These form the foundation of California’s coastal protection program. Coastwalk’s podcasts, produced in partnership with KRCB, a public broadcasting station located in Sonoma County, were funded by a Whale Tail Grant from the Coastal Commission. The podcasts are based on interviews conducted by Coastal Commission Legislative Director, Sarah Christie.
Click here “PODCASTS“ and listen to these fascinating stories of the Coastal Commission’s work in protecting our California coastline.
Your will hear:
- How the Coastal Commission took on the Southern Pacific Railroad in Monterey, and protected the right-of-way that is now a popular multi-use trail along the edge of Monterey Bay.
- How the Coastal Commission used public access policies of the Coastal Act to force an exclusive men’s club in Santa Monica, the Jonathan Club, to drop its discriminatory membership policies.
- How the Coastal Act prevented the historic cottages at Crystal Cove from being converted into a private, luxury hotel in a state park.
Peter Douglas & Coastwalk ED, Una Glass
At present you can go to Coastwalk’s website to listen to these podcasts while sitting at your computer. Coastwalk is also seeking funding to make these podcasts instantly available on smart phones using GPS positioning so hikers can have the benefit of a “virtual” docent while walking on the Coastal Trail segment to which each of these stories pertain.
Coastwalk Awarded New Grant From Coastal Conservancy to Fund Formation of Coastal Trail Alliance
Coastwalk was awarded a new $300,000 grant by the State Coastal Conservancy’s Board of Directors in November. Coastwalk, with help and funding from the Conservancy, will be working to develop a collaborative network of cities, counties and other agencies that own a strand of the Trail. Coastwalk is also receiving technical assistance from the National Park Service for this project. This network will share Trail information and resources, working together to ensure that the Trail has the wherewithal and plans needed to realize its completion. This step is absolutely necessary not only to manifest the vision of a continuous unbroken trail, but also to ensure the long term protection of California’s coastline.
The new Conservancy Grant will also be funding Coastwalk’s continuing work on its Coastal Trail signage program as well as its collaborative work with the Conservancy on public education regarding the Trail.
The State Coastal Conservancy is the lead state agency in planning for and completing the California Coastal Trail. Coastwalk and the Conservancy are committed partners as we work together to complete this amazing public resource and vital economic asset.
Governor Attends Coastwalk Legislative Reception in Sacramento
Coastwalk’s Second Annual Legislative Reception in celebration of the California Coastal Trail (CCT) was a big success. This year the event was also celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Proposition 20, the Coastal Initiative, which began California’s Coastal Program, and was passed by a vote of the people in November of 1972.
The big news is that, thanks to a personal appeal by State Senator Noreen Evans, Governor Brown dropped in on Coastwalk’s event and shared some conversation and ideas.
Resources Secretary, John Laird began the event’s program by giving some excellent remarks about the importance of the Trail and the need for all agencies to work collaboratively to finish the Trail. He thanked Coastwalk, as the leading non-profit advocating for the Trail, for all its efforts and accomplishments.
Mary Shallenberger, Chair of the Coastal Commission, delivered short remarks regarding the huge impacts the Coastal Initiative has had on California’s coastline. Charles Lester, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission also made excellent remarks and spoke of his first year at the helm of the Commission and his commitment to maintaining California’s high level of coastal protection.
In summation, Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer of the State Coastal Conservancy, spoke about progress on the Coastal Trail and the Conservancy’s important partnership with Coastwalk. He also discussed the critical value of the project that the Conservancy will be working on with Coastwalk over the next three years. This project will build a coalition (association) of Coastal Trail owners and stakeholders. He explained that this coalition will be crucial to the success of the Coastal Trail and that all long distance trails have similar supporting groups.
The Reception was attended by a spectrum of legislators as well as Sacramento based environmental advocates including the Director of Sierra Club California, Kathryn Phillips, and the new Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League, Bruce Reznik.
It is critical to the future of the Trail that Coastwalk continue its education of each newly elected group of legislators about the Trail’s existence and its importance, both as a cornerstone of coastal protection, and an economic engine. Coastwalk looks forward to its 3rd legislative reception in 2013.
Coastwalk Holds Fantastic 29th Walks Season
Attendance was up this year on Coastwalk’s annual multi-day Coastwalk camping and hiking adventures. A great time was had by those who participated. This year “Walks” were held in Humboldt, Marin, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco and more.
The Rob Hill Overnight segment of the Golden Gate Family Walk was a great success. Coastwalk partnered with other trail organizations including the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the San Francisco Bay Trail and the Anza National Historic Trail, in celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Coastwalkers camped in the Rob Hill campground at the Presidio in San Francisco and were treated to a fantastic campfire program. Historic re-enactors played the role of the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition and educated the audience about life on that historic journey. Additionally, the campers were honored to watch a tribe of Ohlone Native Americans perform traditional dances and talk about their people’s history in San Francisco.
The Jug Handle Art Weekend in Mendocino was a big hit, and appealed to Coastwalkers interested in hostel accommodations rather than outdoor camping. This Walk will be offered again in the upcoming season. San Luis Obispo was sold out and had a big waiting list in 2012. Walkers report that this trip, with its hikes in San Simeon State Park, was fabulous. The SLO Walk will also be offered in 2013 and we are expecting to also offer a Walk in Del Norte County.
For those unfamiliar with Coastwalk culture, it is a goal of long term Coastwalkers to complete a Coastwalk in all 15 coastal counties. Several “walkers” accomplished this goal in this past year.
Coastwalk overnight trips are expeditions along the California Coastal Trail and are organized at Coastwalk headquarters, but primarily run by volunteers and expert local guides who share a mission to protect the coastal places they cherish through education, advocacy and stewardship of the California Coastal Trail.
Trips vary in the number of days and nights and in their degree of difficulty, hiking distances, and terrain. Some involve casual walks over easy terrain, some are moderate hikes of 5-10 miles a day, and a few even have a combination of difficulty and terrain in the same day. On many of the trips, volunteers carry the “walkers” gear from campsite to campsite, allowing participants to enjoy their hike without as much effort as a backpack. Most trips involve camping and some are true “backpacks”. Specific Family Walks are geared towards the hiking abilities and activity needs of children ages six and over. You can check out the 2013 Coastwalk schedule on Coastwalk’s web site beginning February 1st, 2013 by clicking here!
Coastwalk Wrapping Up 400 Miles of Coastal Trail Signage
Coastwalk is wrapping up a Coastal Conservancy grant that funded the installation of signage on 400 miles of Coastal Trail. This project, which will soon be complete, was about a lot more than just installing the official Coastal Trail insignia onto signposts beside the trail. Coastwalk worked with almost one hundred local governments, land trusts and State agencies to locate the alignment of local Coastal Trail segments and then photograph, GPS and map them. This work was crucial to establish local support for the Coastal Trail and agreement about its location. Coastwalk also produced planning documents for each of these trail segments and managed planning approvals through local jurisdictions as well as the Coastal Commission.
This program has facilitated State and local government having consistent information about trail alignments and location of signage. It is also setting the groundwork for a stewardship program to be developed in the future. The local jurisdiction contacts that Coastwalk made during this program will form the foundation for the new Coastal Trail collaborative network of Trail owners and stakeholders that will be initiated in 2013.
Sonoma County Coastal Cleanup Day a Big Success
Coastwalk coordinates Coastal Cleanup Day in Sonoma County that is a part of the statewide CCD managed by the Coastal Commission. This year’s cleanup was a great success with over 700 volunteers taking to Sonoma County Beaches and Waterways to clean them of debris.
“Thanks to funding from the Sonoma County Water Agency, Coastwalk was able to recruit many new volunteers this year” said Una Glass, Executive Director of Coastwalk California.
Aside from doing a good deed, participants had great fun after the cleanup at a barbeque and celebration donated by Whole Foods Market. REI provided prizes for a raffle and for a contest that evaluated who found the most interesting piece of trash.
Coastwalk Presents at Trail and Greenways Conference
The 2012 Trails and Greenways Conference was held in Los Angeles and was as always very informative and a great place for networking. Coastwalk had a booth in a prominent place at the entrance to the main conference room and was able to talk with Trail professionals and stakeholders from all over the state about progress on the California Coastal Trail. Coastwalk held an early morning workshop that was hosted jointly with Coastwalk’s Technical Assistance Consultants from the National Park Service. The session met in small groups and discussed ideas for a Coastal Trail “Association” and how jurisdictions could benefit from participating in an organization that supports the Coastal Trail. Lots of ideas were put forward which are being incorporated into the new CCT Association project that is being funded starting in 2013 by Coastwalk’s new Coastal Conservancy grant.
Coastwalk Participates in Legislative Briefing
Coastwalk Executive Director, Una Glass, participated in a Legislative briefing at the Capitol in Sacramento. She was included on a panel with Annie Notthoff (NRDC), Susan Jordan (Coastal Protection Network), and Mary Shallenberger (Chair of the Coastal Commission).
“I was tremendously grateful to be invited to participate on this panel hosted by the Sierra Club”, said Glass. “My co-panelists are the “rock stars” of coastal protection and I am incredibly honored to be in the same room as them!” .
The panel focused on the 40 year history of coastal protection in California, current issues, and the future of coastal protection. Glass focused her remarks on public access and the history/future of the California Coastal Trail. This panel was a great opportunity to bring new legislative staffers up to speed on the importance of the CCT and its crucial role in public access to the coast.
Coastal Commission Receptions
Coastwalk co-sponsored two Receptions for the California Coastal Commission over this past year; a reception held at the Osher Center in Marin County in May, and an end of year celebration held at the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco in December. Sponsoring these receptions provides a great opportunity to catch up with Commissioners and highlight the importance of the California Coastal Trail to public access and coastal protection.
The December event was also a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Proposition 20, the California Coastal Initiative. Coastwalk Board Member, Mark Massara introduced a brief program where Coastal Commission Executive Director spoke of the mission of the Coastal Commission and the forty years of coastal protection that began with the passage for Proposition 20 in 1972.
Just the Highlights …
The stories above represent just a few of Coastwalk California’s activities in 2012. We are busy on so many fronts including leading day hikes, answering phone calls from the public about potential family activities and places to stay along the Coastal Trail, talking with regional planning agencies about trail improvements and so much more. Please consider a gift to sustain Coastwalk in its crucial work of completing the California Coastal Trail and preserving our coastline!
Coastwalk California was awarded a new grant from the State Coastal Conservancy. Board members voted in favor of the new grant in mid-October 2012. This grant will fund a collaborative effort to build a network of coastal cities, counties and stakeholders that own a strand of the trail. This network will share Trail information and resources, working together to complete the California Coastal Trail.
Coastwalk sponsors the Sonoma County cleanup on over 15 beaches and 8 inland sites. Register online today to pick your site! Click read more below to find out more about the cleanup.
Last year Sonoma County volunteers picked up over 6000 lbs of trash and recycling!
California Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual beach and inland waterway cleanup, and is the state’s largest volunteer event. In 2010, over 82,500 volunteers removed more than 1.2 million pounds of trash and recyclables from our beaches, lakes, and waterways. When combined with the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by Ocean Conservancy and taking place on the same day, California Coastal Cleanup Day becomes part of one of the largest volunteer events in the world.
View Coastal Cleanup Day in a larger map
Click a Beach to Register!
Registration is now closed. Drop-ins are welcome on Saturday at the Salmon Creek Ranger Station, or show up to Wright’s Beach!
Bring your reusable buckets, gloves, and water bottles if you have them. And join volunteers for a free BBQ and raffle at the Bodega Dunes Day Use area.
Blind Beach FULL
Bodega Dunes FULL
Bodega Head FULL
Doran Beach FULL
Goat Rock Beach FULL
North Jenner Beach FUL
North Salmon Creek Beach FULL
Pinnacle Gulch FULL
Portuguese Beach FULL
Russian Gulch FULL
South Salmon Creek Beach
Or join an inland cleanup!
Petaluma River Cleanup:
Friends of the Petaluma River parking lot
260H N. Water St.
Santa Rosa Creek Cleanup:
Doyle Park entrance, south of Sonoma Ave.
Contact Alistair Bleifuss
Sonoma Ecology Center
Maxwell Farms Regional Park, Nathanson Creek Preserve, and Larson Regional Park
Contact Jim Chayka
WHY ARE BEACH CLEANUPS IMPORTANT? California’s coast and waterways have historically been collecting spots for annual accumulations of trash and debris. This debris, if not removed, can be harmful and even fatal to all manners of marine wildlife, can damage our state’s economy, and can even become a human health hazard. Coastal Cleanup Day is a great way for families, students, service groups, and neighbors to join together, take care of our fragile marine environment, show community support for our shared natural resources, learn about the impacts of marine debris and how we can prevent them, and to have fun!
For cleanups in other areas check out the links below.
California Coastal Cleanup Day
International Coastal Cleanup
For more info, contact Coastwalk: (800) 550-6854.
Thank you to our sponsors: