Mendocino BOS Decides for the Dunes and the Plover

by Victoria Brandon, Redwood Chapter Chair

We are delighted to be able to report that on Monday August 26 the Mendocino Board of Supervisors approved the MacKerricher Dunes Rehabilitation Project, as advocated by a number of local environmental organizations including the Sierra Club Mendocino Group.

The Inglenook Fen-Ten Mile Dunes Natural Preserve in Mackerricher State Park contains coastal dune and wetland habitats that support many special plant and animal species, and provide habitat for resident and migrating shorebirds. The Project intends to restore natural processes in the Preserve, which  was set aside in 1995 expressly “to preserve such features as rare or endangered plant and animal species and their supporting ecosystem,” by removing 2.7 miles of an old logging road through the dunes and along the beach, and by grubbing out invasive European Beach Grass.

After completing CEQA review, the Parks Department received a Coastal Development Permit from the County and was set to move forward until the Westport Municipal Advisory Council filed an appeal with the Board of Supervisors, arguing that removal of the old road would have negative impacts on public access and recreation.

As stated by Mendocino Group Executive Committee member Linda Perkins, “the value of these few remaining natural dune areas, home to rare plants and nesting habitat for the endangered snowy plover, far outweighs the relatively low level of recreational use of this segment, limited as it is by having been partly covered by sand and by having a large chunk washed out by the ocean. In addition, the segment to be removed is separated by almost a mile from the popular hiking and biking haul road that runs through MacKerricher State Park from Ward Avenue to Pudding Creek and that will not be affected by the project.” For additional information on the project, see the comment letter posted to the Mendocino Group website, redwood.sierraclub.org/mendocino.

This was a great victory, but please stay tuned: the Westport MAC has ten days to appeal the BOS decision to the Coastal Commission. Although it’s highly unlikely that the CC would overturn such an environmentally beneficial ruling by local government, the Chapter is standing ready to weigh in on the side of the County, the dunes and the snowy plover.

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