Mendo’s AV Parks ‘Needs Assessment’

Anderson Valley lacks public land and walkable space. 

Tourism businesses are concerned about the limited number of public outdoor recreation locations, which limits the length of visitors’ stays in Anderson Valley. 

Faulkner and Indian Creek Parks have the only “public” restrooms in Anderson Valley. 

Indian Creek Park is one of a limited number of places with water access to a creek or river. 


Faulkner Park, Boonville 

This 40-acre parcel sits on both sides of Mountain View Road, winding through the hills west of Boonville above Anderson Valley. The park includes picnic tables, a small parking area, and restrooms. The park's most distinctive feature, the Azalea Discovery Trail, was built in 1975. This trail passes through the heart of the park, where large native azalea shrubs grow under the canopy of second-growth redwoods. Its beautiful redwoods and natural spaces provide opportunities for potential enhancements, and could serve as a refuge area for fire personnel and trucks. 

Faulkner Park is located just outside of the small community of Boonville. This 40-acre parcel sits on both sides of Mountain View Road, which winds through the hills west of Boonville above Anderson Valley. 

On October 15, 1930, the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company granted the parcel of land to the county of Mendocino. The land was to be used as a park, to be named the E. O. Faulkner Park, after a vice-president of the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company who died in 1928. The park went undeveloped until 1966, when money from the 1964 Park Bond Act was used to put in a water system and public restrooms. No additional development took place until 1973, when the Mendocino County Parks Department was formed. At that time, picnic tables were installed, and a small parking area was developed. 

In 1977, a small playground was created using 1976 State Park Bond money. 

Improvements to the restroom facilities, septic system, and parking area continued to be made from the late 1970’s through the 1980’s. In 1990, the county discontinued overnight camping in the park, due to problems experienced in collecting camping fees from guests and in providing regular maintenance for the camping areas. 


68 people responded to survey questions about Faulkner Park. Almost 70% of respondents cited enjoying nature as the reason for visiting the park. Other popular reasons, noted by at least 30%, were quiet/ relaxation, hiking, and exercise/general wellness. Some identified Faulkner Park as a place to take a pause on their trips along Mountain View Road, between the coast and inland areas. 

68% of respondents felt that Faulkner Park is good to excellent in meeting their needs. In response to “Are there changes you would like to see in Faulkner park?,” 47% checked “I am not sure,” which may indicate that respondents were aware of the park’s existence, but not very familiar with its amenities. One respondent noted that “Currently Faulkner is frequented by the occasional picnicker and lover of redwoods who find a little respite from their travels.” 20 written comments were submitted. Primary concerns included the need for more and improved trails, and more parking. Maintenance concerns were cited. Respondents noted that providing better informational signage would be an improvement. One respondent discussed the possibility of designating the park as a temporary safe harbor location for local residents evacuating from their property during an emergency. 

Faulkner Park is in a beautiful location with impressive redwoods, access to nature, and quiet. 

• Its remote location results in most people not knowing of its existence and there is a general sense of disrepair/lack of maintenance. 

• The vegetation is not being managed in this fire hazards area. The trails and park as a whole is underutilized and the picnic areas are in poor repair. 

• The parking and access areas are minimal and need improvement. The park bridges the road and there are no crosswalks or signage to help visitors navigate the site. 

• There could be an opportunity to allow overnight group camping with a reservation and/or summer camp to bring people and revenue to the park - but in a managed way. 

• There is potential to establish the park as a refuge for firefighters in partnership with Anderson Valley Fire and CalFire. 

• The natural areas, stream, and nature trail need to be restored. 


Recommendations

Make the park area more walkable – create an easement along Mountain View Road from the high school to Faulkner Park (approximately 2 miles). A high visibility crosswalk is needed at the east end of the park. 

• Shaded fuel breaks are needed for fire safety. Faulkner Park is a location for possible group camping, but with campfires prohibited. 

• Create a “Friends of Faulkner” group under an existing non-profit umbrella. Partner with Fire Chief and community for mitigation and fuel reduction projects. 

• Make the park more of an inviting destination. Education could be a draw if the Discovery or Azalea Trails were re-done with updated interpretive panels. Partner with outdoor groups for educational opportunities. 

• The park is known as a location for drug deals – security should be improved. 

• Trash cans and restroom signage is needed at the pullout roundabout. 


Indian Creek Campground, Philo 

Since the County's acquisition of the land in 1973, improvements have included paving of the entrance road and parking lot, installation of restrooms and a water system, creation of a nature trail, and establishment of a campground. The park accommodates day use and overnight camping on the bank of Indian Creek. It is situated in beautiful redwoods, with trails and access to a swimming hole. 

Indian Creek Park is located one-half mile southeast of Philo on Highway 128. It is beautifully situated in a grove of large old-growth redwoods on the south bank of Indian Creek, near its junction with the Navarro River. 

Indian Creek Park has been a public recreation area for many years. Previous to the County’s ownership of the property, the State of California had jurisdiction of the property and under State ownership, little or no development took place. Prior to the State’s ownership, there had been a log cabin and small shed on the property. 

In 1973, the County of Mendocino traded land at Westport-Union Landing to the State for the Indian Creek property. Since the county’s acquisition, developments have included paving of the entrance road and parking lot (1975), installation of restrooms and a water system (1976), creation of a nature trail (1981), and establishment of a campground and access road (1987) and caretaker’s living area (1987). Most of this development was accomplished with State Park Bond funds; however, the campground was developed with County General Funds. 

There are fire safety concerns regarding unattended campfires. The Fire Chief suggests that campfire burn permits be required, and that campfires should be prohibited during the high risk portion of the season. 

• Increased law enforcement presence is needed. Squatters/transients are using the park to camp and are not paying fees. 

• Consider “Adopt a Park” or “Adopt a Trash Can” programs. 

• Install more interpretive signage within the park.


97 people responded to questions about Indian Creek Park. The most common reasons for visiting Indian Creek Park, noted by at least 50% of respondents, are day use, to enjoy nature, and quiet/ relaxation. Other popular reasons, noted by at least 30%, included river access and hiking. 

81% of respondents felt that Indian Creek Park is good to excellent in meeting their needs. Over 30% felt that the park should be left as is. It was noted as “a beautiful campground” and “a valuable asset to our community.” 34 written comments were submitted regarding changes that respondents would like to see in Indian Creek Park. Again, a majority of comments addressed deterioration of the park and its facilities. Comments concerned maintenance issues, particularly the need for a clean, working restroom. There were several suggestions that a campground host/ manager be brought in during the camping season. Many respondents noted the need for signage and information, including park entry signage visible from the highway, trail signage, informational signage, and clarification regarding whether campsites are reservable. Several respondents expressed the desire for improved creek access and trails. 

This is a beautiful spot for car camping with access to swimming hole, a moderate length hiking trail, and short nature trail. 

• It is underutilized and is not well known by potential campers in the County or by visitors, in part due to lack of any online presence or reservation system. 

• It has the highest revenue of all parks, although it is likely that there are many fees that are not paid due to lack of staffing. 

• The lack of any oversight has resulted in a range of impacts on the park. There are a lots of social trails and erosion areas. Illegal fires are a major concern. Fencing along the creek and along property boundaries is in disrepair. 

• The amenities are in good shape generally, but there are inadequate bathrooms for campers. 

• The County should evaluate ways to maintain and monitor the park to reduce fire danger and improve fee collection, enhance stream access, trails, and interpretive signage. 

One Response to "Mendo’s AV Parks ‘Needs Assessment’"

  1. Marshall Newman   March 3, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    I visited Faulkner Park a couple of years ago. It was a beguiling place with much natural beauty. It also was empty. I encourage AV residents to enjoy this local treasure. Definitely worth the short drive.

    Reply

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