Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Local Coastal Plan Update Advocacy

Recently, two members of Coastwalk California's Advocacy Committee provided comments to local planning bodies working to improve their Local Coastal Plans.  

Stan Bluhm testified on March 27th before the Marin County Board of Supervisors in favor of continuing to explore a possible water crossing (on-call ferry service) across the mouth of Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon, both of which are necessary to realize a continuous CCT through Marin County.  The update to the Plan moves the CCT to alongside Highway 1 along the east side of Stinson Beach, and we were pleased that the Board agreed to wording which indicates that the north county trail alignment along rural roads is a "interim route".  Video of the hearing can be seen at: http://marin.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=33&clip_id=6135 , and Stan's public testimony can be read at: ·       http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/CD/main/pdf/planning/coastal/Letters/Coastwalk_3-27-2012.pdf.

Nancy Graves provided comments to the North San Luis Obispo County Coastal Trail Master Update Planning Hearings (http://www.slocoastaltrail.com).  Here is her letter:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft Northern San Luis Obispo County Coastal Trail Master Plan. Alta Planning has done a fine job of integration within this multifaceted area. I was happy to see the plan come together using the wealth of documentation available, and appreciate the difficulty of creating the Master Plan that will guide the future of this magnificent coastline.

I am going to limit my comments to those areas where I believe Alta may have missed some opportunities for sensitive planning of the California Coastal Trail. While I understand the reluctance to show beach routes as viable hiking trails, I think it is important for planning purposes to include them as planned loop trails along with the designated sidepaths and bluff top trails shown.

Considering how people will use this natural recreation area: most will arrive by vehicle, leave their vehicles parked in a staging area and plan to access the sandy and tidal beaches for the day. Providing loops with controlled vertical accesses to the beach can be the most protective of the sensitive resources in the marine terraces. These vertical accesses need to be clearly identified in the plan. For hikers and families with children, a walk along the beach with a return to the staging area by a sidepath or bluff top trail can be the most valuable and educational natural experience we can provide. Therefore, the vertical accesses become a important component for planning this use. For long distance hikers, the opportunity to leave the beach at specified accessways and walk on unpaved surfaces is a welcome relief. We are drawn to the beach, people will continue to access the beaches, especially the sandy ones. Without controlled vertical accesses, volunteer trails through sensitive habitats will become the norm. By planning the walking routes with loops back to staging areas, peoples’ experience will be enriched while keeping sensitive areas free of volunteer trails.

I have not done a complete study of specific loop trails within the Study Area, but some obvious areas for envisioned loop trails would include Segments 2, 3 and 6. Segment 6.  Estero Bluffs is already in use in this way. While the draft Master Plan addresses those volunteer and overused vertical accesses in Segment 6, it does not address the concept of the looped beach trail. In Segments 2 and 3, within the Hearst San Simeon acquisition, there is an excellent opportunity for integrating staging areas, sidepaths, beach and bluff routes with short, midrange and long distance loops.

There is this unspoken fear, especially from land managers, that we must shield people from the natural world and at the same time, schizophrenically, teach them to protect and respect the natural world. I believe the famous saying that we only cherish that which we can experience. This can only be accomplished by allowing access to that which is precious, dangerous and awesome.

As a coastal hiker, I and many in the Coastwalk family are well aware of blowing sand dunes, rocky shores, tidal headlands, seasonal creeks, biological and cultural resources and endangered species that can complicate and enrich a direct lateral beach route. These things are generally not deterents, and more often add to our respect for the natural experience. In the journal of the Coastal Trail Expedition in 2003, which can be found at the Coastwalk website, www.coastwalk.org , these challenges are what made the experience so rich.

I would encourage Alta Planning in cooperation with State Parks and the County of San Luis Obispo to include careful planning for beach routes within the Administrative Draft of the Northern San Luis Obispo County Coastal Trail Master Plan.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment, I look forward to the next draft document.

Nancy Graves
SLO County Trails Advisory Cmte.
SLO County Transportation Advisory Cmte
Board Director, Coastwalk California



 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

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