Bodega Bay Coastal Prairie Trail UPDATE
Our Trail will finally happen!
By Joan G. Poulos
After more than eight years, more than seventy citizens of the Bodega Bay area came to the Bodega Bay Fire House to hear the group of staff personnel convened by Supervisor Efren Carrillo assure them that the Coastal Prairie Trail IS going to happen—and soon. The meeting was an interesting cross-section of citizens, ranging from old-timer Wes Mitchell to community center rescuers, Diana and Mike Bundy, several members of the fire board, Cathy Beck, Tony Anello and Maggie Briare. Fire chief, Sean Grinnell was present and contributed greatly.
Spurred by local press stories about the impact on Bodega Bay of a proposed boardwalk, interest in the community was high—high enough to convince a standing-room only crowd to forego dinner and come to hear officials discuss the two-prong proposal. The citizens were told that the Coastal Prairie Trail, from Salmon Creek to the Nicholas Green Memorial Bell Tower will begin construction by this fall. The second part, the proposed walkway from Eastshore Road down to Doran Beach --not so certain.
The meeting, which was held to hear citizen points of view on both parts of the proposal, was orderly and respectful, although at least one resident of Salmon Creek was upset about the prospect of a walkway going through their water-collection field. The county representatives, Mark Cleveland and Ken Tam of Regional Parks, assured the assemblage that the environmental aspects had been considered. Parks director Caryl Hart, assured the group that the project, which began from local citizen concern about safety walking through town, was about to come to fruition after eight years. Multiple grant sources had been mined—$350,000 in County Measure M funds, as well as $535,000 federal funds from the Transportation for Livable Communities program, and park mitigation but now the northern portion of the project is nearly ready to START. Some audience members were concerned about the presence of outhouses in pristine areas; others stressed the necessity of Caltrans lowering the speed limit from the existing 55 mph when the new parking lot and trail connection became a reality (stressing that it was a cheap fix; just remove one sign.)
More concern was evidenced about the second phase. Those representing the Madrone Audobon Society were concerned that the walkway would impair Bodega Bay as an IEA attraction, and other members felt that the Coastal Zone Management Act assured that nothing other than a water-dependent use would be approved. Bodega Bay is a Globally Important Bird Area so concern was raised by 2 of the local fish family reps that both the construction of the trail, and debris entering the water from trail use would harm the delicate crab nursery along waters edge.
Staff discussion about hoped-for shuttles to allow citizens to access not only Bodega Bay parks but other recently obtained parks, and even a water taxi to transport visitors from Eastshore Road to Doran Beach (Caryl Hart’s idea), seemed somewhat remote. Supervisor Carrillo was quick to clarify that this part of the project was just in its initial stages; that no funding had been obtained.
Initial members of the Bodega Bay Trail Advisory Committee, of which there were several attending, emphasized that the whole project had begun because of a concern about the inability to walk SAFELY in Bodega Bay.
Disagreements or no, when a vote was taken about how many of the attendees favored the trail, the pro votes were overwhelming. Some concerns remain, but it was very clear tonight: citizens of Bodega Bay want to be able to safely walk from one end of the village to the other—and SOON.