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Parkland Forum

[Jun 28]

An important event for the future of parks on the coast is coming up on June 28th. The Mendocino Coast Recreation and Parks District will hold a Public Forum addressing the use of the Regional Park (2 miles out Hwy 20 at Summers Lane) at Cotton Auditorium from 6:30-8:30 pm. Concerned citizens and residents are encouraged to attend and express their interests in use of the Park. This is the only large park owned by the District, which includes the whole Mendocino Coast, and has been underutilized and abused for many years.

The Park has a desolate history of being used by illegal Off-Road Vehicles, which have broken through the forest to run on the old trails and dirt roads, causing deep cuts in the surface and loosening the dirt to erosion. Newman Gulch, which supplies drinking water to Fort Bragg, cuts across the property and receives much of this sediment.  The Park was also proposed to contain a golf course, and many of the taller trees cut down for fairways. That proposal died, but new plans for an Off-Road Vehicle Park have brought new challenges to the Park. Despite the impacts, much of this property can be allowed to recover and can be protected in a manner that values its natural significance, while at the same time serving to educate the public about the uniquely special habitats that are found there.

The Sierra Club has a great concern that the entire Park will be dedicated to Off-Road Vehicles to the exclusion of any other activity, and that the botanical resources will be destroyed. Specifically, the California Native Plant Society has stated their concerns: “The 586-acre property off of Highway 20, which the MCRPD and the California Recreational Alliance plan to develop as an Off-Highway Vehicle Park, contains one of the rarest plant communities in California, and one that is unique to our Mendocino Coast, the pygmy forest . . .. only 1480 acres of pygmy forest remain.” The property contains approximately 20% of all remaining Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland (“pygmy forest”). Additionally, other sensitive natural communities including Bishop pine forest exist on the property. CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife estimates a majority of the Regional Park is comprised of sensitive natural communities. The Regional Park rests on soils that are essential to the maintenance of that habitat. Pygmy soil types are ancient soils perched on a very flat and sandy terrace and retain water in a wetland type regime. Disturbance of the surface causes quick erosion and downcutting, which can drain the vegetation of needed moisture. The Park already has some roadcuts of 12-30 inches deep and at least one 6’ deep.

The MCRPD has received a grant for restoration in the Park, which is mainly to be used for fencing. While fencing is a good idea, the plan for it was proposed with no environmental review, using an “exemption” for the State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle grant. Therefore, there is no document that directs the restoration in avoiding damage and protecting sensitive plants. In fact, the MCRPD Board already allows continued use of the Park for Off-Road Vehicle training and trail rides. The “restoration” would not include improving or decommissioning the damaged roads at all, but anticipates continuing their use by ORVs and dirt bikes. A new EIR in the works is addressed to only the ORV proposal, not other desired activities.

The Park is simply not a good place for off-road use, with issues of water pollution, sensitive plants, neighborhood noise and exhaust, and incompatible activity. The public has an interest in developing its only Park in a responsible way for the enjoyment of all sorts of activities, and the neighbors are very concerned about the impacts to their neighborhood. Please attend the public forum on June 28th at Cotton Auditorium at 6:30-8:30 pm to voice your interests.

Rixanne Wehren,

Sierra Club, Mendocino Group

One Comment

  1. Pat Kittle June 17, 2018

    Rixanne Wehren (Sierra Club, Mendocino Group),

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you are not aware of the Sierra Club’s treacherous betrayal of its founding principles:

    — [ ]
    For the love of money

    Since 1996, leaders of the Sierra Club have refused to admit that immigration driven, rapid U.S. population growth causes massive environmental problems. And they have refused to acknowledge the need to reduce U.S. immigration levels in order to stabilize the U.S. population and protect our natural resources. Their refusal to do what common sense says is best for the environment was a mystery for nearly a decade.

    Then, on Oct. 27, 2004, the Los Angeles Times revealed the answer: David Gelbaum, a super rich donor, had demanded this position from the Sierra Club in return for huge donations! Kenneth Weiss, author of the LA Times article that broke the story, quoted what David Gelbaum said to Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope:

    “I did tell Carl Pope in 1994 or 1995 that if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me.”

    In 1996 and again in 1998, the Club’s leaders proved their loyalty to Gelbaum’s position on immigration, first by enacting a policy of neutrality on immigration and then by aggressively opposing a referendum to overturn that policy. In 2000 and 2001, Gelbaum rewarded the Club with total donations to the Sierra Club Foundation exceeding $100 million. In 2004 and 2005, the Club’s top leaders and management showed their gratitude for the donations by stifling dissent and vehemently opposing member efforts to enact an immigration reduction policy.

    Mr. Gelbaum is entitled to restrict how his donations to the Sierra Club Foundation are spent. But he should NOT be permitted to influence how other members’ dues or donations are spent or to dictate policy choices via the threat of withholding contributions. That is completely inappropriate.

    Even worse, Sierra Club leaders accepted Gelbaum’s conditions in secret and forced a modification of the Club’s policy to conform to his wishes. Furthermore, Club leaders certainly shouldn’t have misrepresented immigration reductionists as anti-immigrant or racist in order to guarantee Gelbaum’s donations; there is nothing inherently racist or anti-immigrant about sustainable levels of immigration.

    Worst of all, the U.S. population continues to grow by about 3 million people per year, of which nearly half are immigrants, and two-thirds of the growth is a result of immigration, if the children of immigrants are included. Our forests continue to be clearcut to provide construction materials, our groundwater is depleted to provide water for our growing population, we grow more and more dependent on foreign sources of oil, and we are unable to reduce our output of greenhouse gases, all thanks to our burgeoning population.

    We don’t like it when the oil, timber, coal, and nuclear power industries oppose environmental reform, yet we understand why they do it: for the love of money. Is it any better when the Sierra Club opposes environmental reform for the love of money?

    …CONTINUED: — [ ]

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