Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Civics 101

By Ed Zieralski


December 21, 2008

Welcome to Civics 101, courtesy of the California Fish and Game Commission, the Legislature and the rabid preservationists who are hijacking our state's resources. Today's lesson is a basic one.
Don't pass legislation like the Marine Life Protection Act without a funding plan to make it work. Otherwise, all you get is a giant ocean money pit and dazed and confused Fish and Game commissioners.

I digress.

In 1999, the misguided Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act, a plan to establish a network of underwater refuges along the state's 1,100-mile coastline. Proponents of the act say it's all about protection of habitat, ecosystems and developing a beautiful underwater Yosemite.
In reality, the process was hijacked by preservationists and anti-fishing groups who now are targeting commercial and recreational fishing and want to eliminate any take of sustainable and viable ocean resources in most of these underwater parks.

The process already is here in the South Coast after some fishermen's lives were destroyed by fishing closures in marine protected areas on the Central Coast. Some fishermen now are working on the North Central Coast, where abalone divers are fighting the good fight. Soon, we'll be fighting for our ocean-fishing lives, with everyone from urchin divers to bait suppliers threatened.
I know this because I watched a replay of the recent Fish and Game Commission meeting at which the DFG listened to abalone divers make a case for a change in marine protected area boundaries that will lessen the impact on abalone divers. At this meeting, I heard DFG personnel tell the commissioners how many millions of dollars the entire network of marine protected areas will cost the state.

More on that in a bit.

The Marine Life Protection Act died a couple of justifiable deaths before preservationists – not conservationists, as they like to call themselves – gathered enough cash from the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, or RLFF, to raise it from its watery grave.
An explanation: The RLFF draws its money from various organizations that have close ties to rabid preservationists. That was Fish and Game Commissioner Michael Sutton, a former officer in the Packard Foundation (one of the RLFF's deep pockets), patting himself on the back at the recent commission meeting, boasting how this wonderful public-private partnership between the DFG and the RLFF has kept this great farce going.

Thus far, the RLFF has given the DFG and the MLPA process more than $18 million since 2004 to keep this ocean land-grab going. The preservationists are paying for these parks and they're getting all they want.

And yet, there still is no clear plan to fund these restrictive parks.

It gets worse.

DFG personnel told the commissioners at their meeting last week that the entire network of marine protected areas will cost the state as much as $40 million a year for enforcement, public outreach and monitoring.

Let me write that again: $40 million a year. That's our taxpayer money.
There are whispers that the DFG will follow other state agencies and make 25 percent cuts in its operating budget as California tries to erase what could be a $42 billion deficit in 18 months.
So, where is the DFG going to get $40 million a year to keep its underwater Yosemite protected and green?

Gov. Schwarzenegger, with all due respect, your little ocean legacy plan really is an ocean money pit that preserves nothing but more debt, wastes taxpayers' money and ruins the lives of hard-working fishing families.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

UN Report on MPAs: "Paper parks"

A recent report by the United Nations cautions about the use of marine protected areas as a panacea for conservation efforts.

"MPAs are widely advocated and widely declared. But nearly all of them are paper parks (Mora et al 2006). They are legal, may have management staff, usually have detailed regulations governing their use, but there is little if any enforcement of regulations. The paper park syndrome exists for several reasons. Many coastal states have quite limited budgets, and adequately resourcing an environmental management department to administer MPAs simply does not happen."

"There also appears to be an over-reliance by managers on the no-take protected area concept. MPAs can manage activities that occur within their borders well, but MPAs have been particularly ineffective for managing fisheries in surrounding waters, or extrinsic disturbances such as coral bleaching, pollution, or invading species ( Jameson, et al.2002). Yet, much of the literature on protected areas is advocacy suggesting that a network of MPAs is practically all a nation needs to effectively manage its coastal waters. Of course, if numerous, well-managed, MPA networks existed, our coastal ocean would be in much better state than it is – mostly there are small, isolated, poorly managed MPAs. This management tool could be used much more effectively than at present, and with some additional research it should be possible to design networks of MPAs effectively (World Bank 2006)"

Read more of the report here...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Does the MLPA abet factory fishing and harm the little guy while aiming to protect the environment?

Great article! Quotes Cate Carre and Allan Jacobs about MLPA impact on sustainable local fishery.
Trawling for Answers

Pt. Arena City Council Supports 2-XA

July 22, 2008

MLPA Initiative
c/o California Resources Agency
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

Attention: Ken Wiseman

Melissa Miller-Henson

Susan Ashcraft

Steve Martarano

Stephen P. Wertz

Dear Blue Ribbon Task Force Members,

As we have previously stated,

§ We the City Council of Point Arena, speaking on behalf of our citizens and members of the surrounding community, value our Municipal Pier as a vital part of the City and as an access point for recreational and commercial boating and hope that the final Marine Protected Areas will permit continued boating operations, both for recreational users and the professionals that constitute our tiny fleet.

§ Many members of our community, including a number of particularly dedicated sport and professional fishermen, have been diligently involved in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process and have advocated for those alternatives that appeared at each stage of the process which best achieved both the goals of the MLPA and also reduced the impact on socioeconomics, fishing tradition, heritage and safety.

At this point, as the Blue Ribbon Task Force sets forth before the California Department of Fish and Game yet another array of options - 1-3, 2XA, 4, an Integrated Preferred Alternative (IPA) which combines elements of the first three and No Action - the City of Point Arena continues to favor Proposal 2XA for reasons including:

1. Proposal 2XA protects 18.5% of the coastline from Alder Creek to Pigeon Point, the same amount of protected areas as the new Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) in the Central Coast region. What more does our remote and less populated coast need to protect its resources from?

2. Socioeconomic impact is not a consideration in the environmental impact report that is currently being prepared by the Department of Fish and Game, but it matters gravely to us. Reduced fishing opportunities have a direct impact on our already strained economy. 2/XA places one MPA near Point Arena whereas the preferred alternative option has 3 MPA areas to the north and south of Arena Cove. We believe there will be a negative impact resulting from increased fishing pressure in the open area in front of the Cove.

3. Sea Lion Island is unique. For a long time access from shore was limited to the Stornetta family and their guests, therefore harvest from the shore was minimal. However, be aware of the fact that it has been a favorite destination of recreational dive boats from the pier over the last 15 years! Sea Lion Island is also unique in that the inside cove is almost landlocked and therefore Abalone can’t easily migrate there. If left open to Abalone harvest, it will be part of the other harvest locations and because of increased effort needed to get the mollusks, popularity will subside. If closed to Sea Urchin fishing and Abalone diving it will still take a long time to reach its pre-BLM population and when it does it will tempt any poacher due to the easy access and monitoring of arriving cars on lighthouse road. Food is not plentiful in this cove and water movement is nothing compared to the south side of Arena Cove where the winter 07/08 storms twice deposited hundreds of Abalone. Healthy Abalone populations are found everywhere in our area just outside of free diving range and the fishery is very well managed with a yearly take of 24 Abs per person and a daily limit of 3 as well as a size limit and limited season. Why support a special closure in an area that is easily studied but is not representative of the other harvest locations?

4. Proposal 2/XA managed to come up with a solution for the Sea Ranch and Stewarts Point area that we think is fair to all interests. This design balances issues of preservation, private land, private land with public access, and fishing interests. The claim that it has wide support is well founded.

In addition, knowing that the BRTF deliberated at its April 22-23 meeting and recognized that the three proposals (1-3, 2XA and 4) all generally met the science of the master plan for the MPAs, the City of Point Arena City Council, speaking on behalf of our citizens and members of the surrounding community, urges in the strongest possible terms that, should the IPA be chosen, the following changes be implemented in the IPA:

While the size and location of the Point Arena SMCA in the IPA are agreeable, please return to the description of it in 2XA. Also, remove the Saunders Reef Conservation Area and remove Sea Lion Cove Conservation Area.

Yours respectfully,

Lauren Sinnott, Lloyd Cross, Brian Riehl, Laura Smith

City of Point Arena Councilmembers

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Missing in Action: 500 Signatures for 2-XA

May 14th, 2008
Calif. Fish & Game Commission


I have spoke before you twice during the last 9 months in reference to
the MLPA process in the North Central Coast Study Region. Hopefully you
will remember my face, concerns and dedication to this process.
Unfortunately I will be out of state for the next 41/2 months and cannot
attend any of your meetings in regards to the MLPA process. Hope you take
the time to read about my concerns and evaluation of the process over the last 9 months.

After the April 22-3 meeting of the BRTF in San Rafael I walked away
with tears in my eyes and total disbelief of the findings of the two day meeting. It was startling to find that the BRTF sent forth all three
proposals (1-3, 2XA & 4) along with the Proposed Alternative which they developed at the spur of a moment.

My main concern and one that should be yours is "What happened to the Public Comments" that have not been posted since April 3rd? Between April 3rd and the April 22-3rd meeting no public comment letters were given to the
Stakeholders, SAT or BRTF....or even posted on the State of California Fish & Game, MLPA website...where did they go? Did the I-Team fail in their support of the process and opinions of the people of this state? My and
your concern should be: "How did the BRTF make a final decision without seeing all the letters of support for all proposals?" I have been pondering this question since April 23rd and wondering why?

I do know that letters from the following (which I deem of importance) have STILL HAVE NOT BEEN POSTED: The Sea Ranch Association (which wanted
the 2XA proposal in front of their properties), The Mendocino County Fish & Game Advisory Council, The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, Mendocino County Farm Bureau, Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Point Arena Fisherman's Group, Point Arena City Council, Fort Bragg City Council, Fort Bragg
Fisherman and over 500 signatures that were gathered and submitted by me alone........... All the above was in support of Proposal 2XA. It is unknown how many other letters are missing somewhere, never to be seen by the Commission or anyone. 2XA was the preferred proposal by the majority of the landowners and users of our coastline in Subregion 1 of the North Central Coast Study Region.

Although I will be out of state, I will be available for direct contact
with you via email and or telephone (one on one or conference call). I feel that my concerns are valid and substantial. I would really be disappointed if this process ended up going against the major public input and support...and that would be for Proposal 2XA.

Thanks for your time, thanks for you concern with this process. As you know there are other concerns which we all share, the enforcement issue, the closures of park lands and the loss of enforcement near ex-facto reserves as under the private stewardship & ownerships. And the even bigger question...Will it work without overloading and over harvesting from un-zoned areas? Maybe we had better start small to start with?

Archer J. "Arch" Richardson
4th Generation, 130+ years of coastal stewardship
Stewarts Point, CA. 95480

Can be reached in Alaska starting May 17th, 2008
At 907-262-4256 and archerj@mcn.org

Monday, March 31, 2008

Putting MLPA in Perspective

Posted on MLPA Comments

To whom it may concern March 28 2008

I am writing today to support proposal 2XA. Not because I feel this is a proper or fair proposal but because of the three proposals given a choice proposal 2XA seems the best for the coastline and our devoted coastline owners. I have lived on the Southern Mendocino Coast all my life, my husband is fourth generation for our community. In my lifetime I have personally witnessed landowners protecting their coastline. As far back as I can remember I have images of Delia Hay parked outside her Mote Creek entrance north of Anchor Bay. Parked with her truck blocking the gate to the coastline entrance far to many tourists would love to have gained entrance to and taken their legal or not so legal amounts of abalone and trampled upon the shore us locals so proudly Cherish. In the case of Mote creek, Our State of California forced the Hay family into giving that property to them so they could develop four to five houses on the southern cliff, this was the trade the state felt proper in order for them to build on the coast. Well because of water issues those homes never got developed but that Coastal access was now owned by the State of California and is now lined with cars and trucks miles in each direction along with a full parking lot the State has provided. When is it lined you may ask. During abalone season , not weekends with families walking on the beach, not surfers enjoying the waves, no Abalone season, when there are so many trampling on the land and in the water it's amazing they find enough for them to keep returning. Delia Hay passed on in the 1980's, fortunately for her she doesn't have to see the effects that the State has had on her once cherished property that she so determinedly protected.

Another family I have witnessed my entire live has been the Ratcliff family North of Anchor Bay and South of Point Arena. They own an amazing stretch of coastline not to many locals have even walked on. It has always been fenced and privately protected by it's family members. I have always seen their family vehicles parked alone the highway or them personally walking the highway guarding their Private personal estuary. I say estuary for a stretch of land that large in the lifetime I have lived here, I attended school with their child and have family members that are very close to their entire generation of family, yet have we even walked the bluff or shoreline, no I have not. I have no right to, I do not own the property. I feel very strong about what people own remain their own, especially when in My lifetime I have always witnessed landowners taking far better care of their property than any one else could ever hope to do. I would also like to mention, The Ratcliff's entire acreage has always been immaculately maintained. The grass has always been mowed regularly, the fence always maintained, brush removed, dead trees tended to, all by the family. They do not have a home in the view of the ocean, they have not blocked or changed the landscape or view of this coastline in the 41 years I have been seeing it. This speaks volumes in my eyes, because in my lifetime, I have witnessed so many of our coast developed or poorly maintained and obstructed by new comers and State officials who govern our coast but do not live on it or Cherish it the way long time land owners can and do.

I can't even speak of the now State owned Stornetta Property north of Point Arena adjoining and connecting to the Point Arena Lighthouse property. I am long time friends with three generations of Stornetta's and I have to say I can't even drive North now and Look out at the duns or gaze out onto the beach or ocean from the highway one drive. I can't bear to see the massive amounts of people trampling on the once precious sacred land that the State of California couldn't manage to save and protect as the estuary it had been for over 100 years under the ownership of it's property owners .

So in reading the proposals 13, 4 and 2XA, I am sorry any of these have even been written, I can't believe we need to write letters to try and save the rights of our landowners. What year is it? What Country do we live in ? All that aside, haven't our Northern and Southerns Mendocino and Sonoma County Landowners prove with generations of years that they have maintained the beauty of their coastline? Every long time resident I have known that has owned their property for generations has always respected that land more than anyone claiming to be looking out for the people. Families depend on the plants, the sea life and the peacefulness of their own private property for their lifestyles.. I Can't bear to see my friends grandchildren not enjoy the property as their great grandparents have their entire life.

In closing a local issue came to mind, we have a local group pressuring landowners from Gualala to Anchor Bay to give up rights to enough space for this group to build walking paths along the coastline and Highway. I just drove around looking at the paths they have been developing, I was not surprised , but still saddened to see that you can't even see the path now, less than a year old. The grass has overtaken the gravel and chips laid in to the pathway and grown all around the wood boarder that is to define the path. It seams that people with good intentions for the good of the people just don't have to time or the Passion to follow through. I however noticed that on the first dry weekend of the year the long time landowners on the North Coast did manage to mow all their acres on both sides of the road, thank you Ratcliff family for always making the coast view as maintained and yet as natural as god made it ...


Brent and Kelly M. Mason
Jeremy Mason
James H. Lampman

Friday, March 28, 2008

Map Accuracy Is Not Important to MLPA Director

Arch Richardson wrote 3/24/08:


Please be advised that there is a mayor problem with all proposal maps which have been printed in the past. In Subregion 1, North Central Coast Project of the MLPA in reference to The Sea Ranch Public Access Points.

There are a total of 8 access points on The Sea Ranch including Gualala County Park. Of which most are above the Stengel Beach Access. In the old Proposal JD and in the present Proposal 2XA the maps are very deceiving as the access point placement is wrong. For example: JD contained only 3 access point...but the map show 5. 2XA contains only 2 (Black Point & Pebble Beach)...but the map shows 4.

This is very deceiving and for the person who looks only at the maps and not the text, as a wrong decision or opinion of the proposal could be sought. I feel it necessary to change these maps at once, notify all involved that there is a MISTAKE ON ALL MAPS.

Please do not mislead the public!!! And especially The Sea Ranch property owners!

Looking forward to hearing your solution to this very important issue and how it will be solved to satisfy and notify ALL INVOLVED AND EFFECTED.

Ken Wiseman, MLPAI Director responded:

Dear Arch (aka "friendly and outside information source"),
We are looking into this, but preliniary review shows that the points in the data file are correctly placed. I think you are expecting a level of detail that we have never offered on these maps. The coastal access layer in our mapping software does not represent all access points. It only includes those published in the "California Coastal Access Guide" by the California Coastal Conservancy in 2002.
There are many trails and potential access sites at The Sea Ranch and other locations which are not shown on the maps, thus the detailed explanation in the templates which reflects the work of the stakeholder groups. You were there when they looked at very detailed maps with very specific choices made for each proposal.
We have no intention of misleading the public and will make sure all involved understand the issue of the scale of these maps. Just as you did not use these maps to explain the detail of your requested changes, we will not use them to describe the intricate details of each proposal. Thanks for your perspective, as it is always helpful in making sure we communicate as effectively and completely as possible.
Your favorite happy person,
Ken Wiseman
Executive Director

Monday, March 17, 2008

A View from the Sea Ranch

Letter to MLPA Comments from CE Brown of Sea Ranch. March 17, 2008

I appreciate and support the purpose of the MLPA to protect the natural diversity and abundance of marine life, but the unfortunate reality of what is presently happening in the process is the sacrifice of that goal in favor of political pressure for public access, while failing to improve upon existing protections. The Act itself makes no mention of public access, but that focus has been written into the Master Plan by staff at the request of stakeholders. In this area, private landowners have been excluded as stakeholders, including approximately 2,000 private landowners at The Sea Ranch, who are owners in common of 10 miles of coastline.

I’ve been an owner at The Sea Ranch for more than 20 years, and share the stewardship values of other private landowners along this beautiful North Coast. We realize the magnificent treasure we hold in safe keeping for the future.

Here at The Sea Ranch we do have one significant difference from our neighboring private landowners, because public access across our private lands has been imposed by law. We have borne the costs and difficulties associated with that access in terms of increased needs for monitoring and security and difficulties associated with trespass and vandalism. We’ve borne these burdens with our own funds, in addition to paying high property taxes. As owners and stewards of these lands and the marine environments adjacent, we have done an admirable job of respectful use by owners and their invited guests and renters. That should continue, as it should on neighboring private lands. What is needed is appropriate control of the public’s taking of our abalone, which is the main source of the problems.

The proposed MPAs along the North Coast are in areas which have already been protected for generation upon generation of wise stewardship using private funds, while leaving the public access areas unprotected and subject to further depletion. There is no benefit to be derived by simply putting new MPA labels on old problems, and further entrenching the status quo of depletion due to public access.

I do understand that the MLPA process is limited to the size and spacing of protected areas, and that the stated goal is to use the best available science. But the “science” is woefully absent, without even the most basic studies of these Northern marine environments, and assumptions are being made based on studies of southerly areas, not appropriate for the unique climates and marine cultures of this ecological treasure on the North Coast.

Since the reserve designations are already set by law, we must work within those confines to create a solution that approximates common sense and wise stewardship. I urge you to shift the proposed MPA designations to areas of public access, and leave the marine interface on private lands in the care of the private owners who are remarkably effective and wise stewards of the resources, without public costs. The private owners have been operating de facto marine sanctuaries for generations, at their own cost.

Since our imposed public access here at The Sea Ranch creates a peculiar situation, my suggestion for a solution is to designate MPAs selectively at those points where the greatest public usage has depleted our ecosystems, and leave the rest of The Sea Ranch open for the use of the owners and their guests and renters. In addition, I suggest that the State Marine Preserve area we already have at Del Mar Point be confirmed to protect the seal rookery, tidepools and other resources that have been vigorously protected by The Sea Ranch community for nearly 40 years.

Before any MPAs are designated, appropriate site-specific baseline studies with measurable data, and replicable research designs, must be conducted. Otherwise, no outcome studies can be valid, and no scientific basis for policy choices can be in effect. Without appropriate biological studies we will have only a political process of choosing closure areas based on political pressure. Such a process cannot protect the natural wonders we have here, and cannot produce the laudable goals of the MLPA. The Northern California coastline and unique marine environments are natural treasures, and are worth much more than the well-intentioned but woefully non-science based options that are presently proposed. You need to put this process in abeyance until the necessary data has been collected and analyzed so that the intent of the MLPA will indeed help, rather than hurt marine ecosystems which have been degraded by overuse.

It simply does not make sense to restrict the taking of marine resources adjacent to private lands which have been exceedingly well managed and produced vibrantly healthy ecosystems, while continuing to provide unmitigated public access to abalone and fishing in areas which have already suffered depletion. Restrict the depleted areas so that they can recover and the ecosystems can flourish again, and when measurable success has been achieved, then re-open those areas to public use, but with wiser restrictions in place.


CE Brown

707 785-1957


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Protect What Needs Protecting

Recent post to MLPAComments.

March 10,2008

To Whom It May Concern:

I respectively submit, for your consideration, this letter in regards to creating State Marine Conservation Areas and State Marine Reserves. I have been a resident of this area (Mendocino/Sonoma Coast) for over 55 years and have, during that time, fished the waters from Elk to Stewarts Point.

It does not make sense to me that you are considering creating SMCAs ad SMRs along private properties that have been held by families for generatios and gererations. It seems that these coastal areas are being monitored and taken care of quite adequately by the respective land owners. My suggestion is that you protect and try to "bring back" the resources in the areas that have been overused and over fished. One area, in particular, that I will suggest is the whole coastal area fronting The Sea Ranch. My wife and I have owned property on The Sea Ranch for over 20 years. As a property owner I feel that this would be the obvious area to protect and preserve as it would tie in with The Sea Ranch philosophy (i.e. living lightly on the land).

Thank your for your consideration.

Clark E. Beall
41569 Hatchway
The Sea Ranch, CA 95497

Makes No Sense

ICO Fence Post February 29


My parents with my brother and I moved to Point Arena in 1949. We would go with Pop “rock picking” abalone and I remember how Pop had to work hard wading among the rocks to find legal-sized abalone.

I also remember how much better it was on the Pedretti and Stornetta ranches where we were often invited to pick abalone and to fish from the rocks.

The reason it was so good was that so few people were allowed by the landowners to fish and pick abalone on their property.

In essence, landowners like the Richarsons, Ratcliffs, Stornettas, Pedrettis, Leporis, and others were operating their own marine sanctuaries. Their families and friends didn’t take enough fish and abalone to notice. They constantly repaired fences damaged by trespassers, patrolled their properties to chase away poachers, and were far more effective, with no cost to taxpayers, than an army of game wardens.

The difference a change from private to public access can make is obvious on the Stornetta property turned over to the Bureau of Land Management. Abalone were rapidly depleted and the land trashed. What the Stornettas did without cost to taxpayers, the government can’t afford.

Now the public wants fishing restricted on private lands, and not on public. This makes no sense.

The private owners take very little from the ocean resources, pay large property tax bills, and spend their own money to prevent or reduce damage caused by the public. Restricting them on their own property would deprive them of valuable property rights they have enjoyed, and paid taxes on, for a very long time.

It would make more sense to place restrictions primarily on areas now open to the public, because those are the areas that have suffered the most over the years.

Major Michael B. Combs
U.S. Air Force, Retired

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Past as Prologue

Here's a blog entry regarding the April 2007 Fish and Game Commission vote on the Central Coast MLPA. It's a must-read to put the Marine Protection Area legislation in perspective.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Support Alan Jacob's Proposal

F& G Commission 12 February 2008
MLPA Comments

Thank you for considering Alan Jacobs, Point Arena/Saunders Reef proposal. As he has lived and fished here for some 30 years and understands Point Arena and the surrounding communities needs. I think it takes that combination of both knowledge about our fishery and the lay of the land to put something as difficult as this together.

We need our local commercial fisherman, who can’t possibly be interfering with the fish populations. They supply our local grocery stores, restaurants and people on the street with fresh fish. The more they distribute locally, the less we have to ship in by dirty diesel trucks pounding up and down Hwy. 1 on our delicate crumbling Jenner Grade!

I fish too. The fish that I catch, my vegetable garden and orchard are extremely important to me. As with a lot of us who live here on the coast who are trying to be as “Green” and self sufficient as possible.

I am of the opinion that the MLPA could be a good thing if it were done carefully, fairly and honestly where it was needed.

The proposals as they now stand; from Salt Point to Point Arena make no changes to help marine life populations, especially for the future.

It’s almost as if the members of the MLPA ran out of time and energy for this area. Either that or they have a very different agenda than saving and enhancing marine life.

Thank You

Care Ratcliff Carrre’
3rd generation, Sail Rock Ranch, Gualala

If I have to choose a proposal I would prefer External Proposal “A” or Draft Proposal 2 (JD). These two proposals do the least amount of damage to our fragile coast.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


F & G Commission
MLPA comments
General Public

In order for science to be effective and to work correctly…we must have data, biologically data. The data that we do not have at this time to implement any or all MPA’s in the North Central Coast area. At the SAT meeting Jan. 8, 2008 at the San Francisco Airport members of the SAT staff used the following: “assume”, “probably”, “think would be valid,” “assumptions”, “potentially”, “assuming”, and my favorite, “in the back of my mind…I don’t know.” Now what kind of science is this?

Before placement of any MPA studies should be started and completed to backup the need if any for a Marine Protection Area. Studies or observations done 5 years down the road will have no meaning if we do not know what was there upon the implementation of a MPA. Areas that are UNZONED are just as important to areas that are ZONED.

What is the impact on the UNZONED areas caused by the ZONED areas? It will be impossible to know unless a biological study is done before the zoning and law is enacted. Scientist have no idea what will happen….do they? Zoned areas might improve in species and numbers, but to what degree? Will the bleed over from a SMR support the over fishing pressure of the adjacent UNZONED area? Will the UNZONED area be hit so hard by fishing pressure that it will fall below the standards or baseline? And again we do not know what the standards; baseline or minimal sustainability is without a scientific biological study before implantation of these MPA’s. And again, we have insufficient scientific and biological study data!

I urge all involved to stop and think about this for a minute. What type of scientific data do we have to implement this State mandated legislation? NEXT TO NOTHING!!! Therefore placement of all MPA’s, (SMR’s, SMP’s & SMCA’s) are a guess, gamble and shot in the dark without major underwater, above water studies of all spices mentioned for protection in the study region. “Show me the numbers”

Early in the MLPA process (Gualala, 10-16-08) Exec. Director Ken Wiseman stated that “we are going to do this once and do it right.” At the last meeting in Gualala (02-05-08) Exec. Director Wiseman stated “this is not a perfect process.” Now which one is correct? So let’s slow down and do this correctly!

A concerned and caring fisherman, Archer J. Richardson, Stewarts Point, CA.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Chrisman Misses the Point

This is the 2nd letter to Chrisman, responding to his previous one.

January 22, 2008

Mike Chrisman
California Department of Resources

1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Secretary Chrisman;

Thank you for your January 16 response to my letter concerning the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

While I appreciate that you support all the goals of the MLPA, your letter leads to the conclusion that goal #1 protection of “the natural diversity and abundance of marine life…” will be sacrificed in favor of public access. To avoid this adverse impact, your leadership is needed.

By siting MPAs only adjacent to areas that have been protected nearshore for decades, the current siting proposals ratify the status quo. They put a new label on existing protected nearshore areas while leaving unaffected all the areas that have been unprotected. Please look at the overlap of public access and MPAs. The proposed nearshore MPA sites do not improve upon existing protections.

The Act itself makes no mention of public access. Section 2853(b) goal #3 states that recreational, educational, and study opportunities be managed “in a manner consistent with
protecting biodiversity.” Public access has been written into the MLPA Master Plan by MLPA staff at the request of stakeholders.

What’s at Stake

Over this last weekend there was a particularly low tide (-1.4 feet). Jeanne Adams and I and a photographer took the opportunity to make an informal comparison of biodiversity off Sail Rock Ranch with Moat Creek, a public access point just north of us. The differences were striking. We hope to provide you with the opportunity to see these pictures for yourself in the near future. As a taste, in a two-hour period in front of Sail Rock Ranch (SRR) we found:

§ Abalone growing so thickly they were difficult to avoid walking on. At Moat Creek during a two-hour period the following day (same tide) we found only one.

§ 6 types of starfish too numerous to count, including a bright orange brittle star. At Moat Creek, we found 2 types of starfish and very few.

§ Two nudibranchs. At Moat Creek, we found none.

§ Large green and orange anemones open and feeding. At Moat Creek, we found no anemones in tide pools…only small ones on top of rocks.

§ Clouds of small rockfish fry swimming in formation. At Moat Creek, we found a few isolated fry.

These are a few examples of what is at stake. The nearshore habitats off SRR and Richardson Ranch have been de facto preserves for decades. The important thing I hope you realize is that these differences are not an accident of oceanography. Nor will they magically become more productive hatcheries for the rest of the coast just because they are designated MPAs. What’s important is that other areas—areas that currently have public access—must receive protection equal to the level already afforded SRR and Richardson Ranches if goal #1 is to be achieved. Exclusively targeting areas that have been protected for decades by land stewards will not achieve MLPA's goals.

Your Leadership Is Needed

We are particularly concerned that objectives such as “Protects complex and highly productive rocky reef and kelp habitat including one of the largest stands of bull kelp in the north central coast, and associated species” (proposal 4) are being represented to you as measurable. Because this area is currently at or close to climax, a baseline taken offshore of SRR will not show progress in 5, 10 or 20 years. These objectives lack targets by which progress can be measured (MLPA goal #5). In consequence, your Agency lacks the mechanism to objectively alter the area, spacing or level of protection or to “sunset” an MPA.

There is a clear alternative. By including areas in which progress will be obvious after a short time—for example Moat Creek—the MLPA can demonstrate success. If degraded areas are not included, progress will need to be manufactured.

Why haven’t the very capable participants in the MLPA initiative realized this and self-corrected? There are three reasons public access has taken priority in MLPA deliberations, all of which can be remedied by appropriate leadership: 1) the evaluation criteria do not provide adequate siting guidance, leaving public access as the default siting criteria, 2) objectives are not required to be S.M.A.R.T.[1] and 3) the focus is on the short term activity of setting boundaries, not long-term outcomes.

Implementation Must Be a Criteria for Siting

Exclusively targeting nearshore areas off private lands is problematic for other important reasons which have received little attention in public deliberations:

§ What are the monitoring logistics? Private landowners will be expected to open their fence lines to state contractors. Legal mechanisms and additional state insurance costs have not been made public.

§ What are the enforcement logistics? Tree-lined cliffs and deep coves are difficult for any number of wardens to patrol even on public lands. It is truly incomprehensible that wardens will be tasked with looking across fence lines and transiting private land to check the MPAs beyond.

Obviously public process is constrained by administrative interpretation of the Act. In my observation, MLPA Initiative staff are competent and focused professionals truly committed to siting MPAs. However, the Initiative process is missing the big picture. It’s off the track and needs to be put right. We at Sail Rock Ranch support real progress. We do not support being disproportionately targeted by valuing public access—a goal that is not in the enabling legislation—at the expense of the primary authorized goal of the Act.

We appreciate your personal attention to these important issues.

Best regards,

Walter W. Ratcliff
Manager, Sail Rock Highlands LLC

31500 State Highway 1
Gualala, CA 95445

cc Senator Patricia Wiggins
Assemblyman Patty Berg
John Carlson, Executive Director, California Fish and Game Commission
John McCamman, Acting Director, California Department of Fish and Game
Richard B. Rogers, President, California Fish and Game Commission
Michael Mantell, Resources Law Group
Ken Wiseman, Executive Director, Marine Life Protection Act Initiative
Archer Richardson, Richardson Ranches
Dr. Marcos Underwood, President, Haven’s Neck Preserve LLC

Members of Sail Rock Highlands LLC

[1] The commonly accepted criteria for objectives is: S(pecific) M(easurable) (A)chievable (R)ealistic T(ime bound). MPA objectives, as written, do not meet these criteria.

Mike Chrisman Responds

In response to my December 14 letter to Chrisman, this response appears to have been written by Ken Wiseman.

January 16, 2008

Walter W. Ratcliff, Manager
Sail Rock Highlands LLC
31500 State Highway I
Gualala, CA 95445

Dear Mr. Ratcliff,

Thank you very much for your letter dated December 14, 2007 regarding the California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. I appreciate your interest in the process and suggestions for improvements.

I understand from our MLPA staff that you and other members of Sail Rock Ranch have been actively involved in the MLPA Initiative process, by speaking at the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, North Central Coast Regional Stakeholder Group and Master Plan Science Advisory Team meetings. The MLPA Initiative process is one of the most extensive public processes I have ever seen in government, which I had the chance to witness firsthand in Gualala last October. I am pleased to know that you have been able to take advantage of this opportunity.

In response to specific points you raise in your letter:

• You are correct in that public access has been one of various criteria stakeholders have used in developing marine protected area (MPA) proposals; early in the MLPA Initiative process, the desire to maintain existing public access was raised by the public and consideration of that access was subsequently incorporated into the regional goals and objectives for this study region. I recognize and appreciate the impact land stewardship has on the surrounding environment. It is not our desire to discourage private landowners from protecting natural resources on or adjacent to their property.

• The Blue Ribbon Task Force has provisionally adopted goals and objectives for the study region that the science advisory team has indicated are measurable. In addition, the regional stakeholder group has developed objectives for each proposed MPA. Once the California Fish and Game Commission has acted on MPAs in the north central coast, a baseline evaluation will be conducted and then ongoing monitoring will be put in place, specifically to allow the state to determine if the adopted goals and objectives are being met through an adaptive management program.

• The Marine Life Protection Act requires the best readily available science be used to help inform the decision-making process. Over the last three years, two groups of esteemed scientists have worked to identify that science and how it should be applied to the MPA planning process; as with the overall MLPA Initiative process, a transparent public process was used to develop the science guidelines which were adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission.

• Every Californian has a stake in the outcome of this process. To help ensure that all voices are heard, the director of the California Department of Fish and Game and the chair of the task force appointed as broad a constituency representation as possible on the regional stakeholder group; combined with an extensive public outreach and participation strategy, a wide range of voices are being heard at the table, including those of private landowners. We strongly believe in a science-based process that includes the public in the design of California’s marine protected area network, and we believe we have a process which accomplished just that.

Thank you for your continued, active participation and recommendations for improving the MLPA Initiative process. If you have any questions, please contact Executive Director Ken Wiseman at (916) 653-5674.


Mike Chrisman
Secretary for Resources
cc: John Carlson, Executive Director, california Fish and Game Commission
Richard B. Rogers, President, California Fish and Game Commission
John McCamman, Acting Director, California Department of Fish and Game
MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force members
Ken Wiseman, Executive Director, MLPA Initiative

Monday, January 14, 2008

Adjust the Model

Submitted by Walter Ratcliff to the Modeling Working Team of the MLPA Scientific Advisory Team.


Following up on a comment made by Dr. John Largier during the January 8 SAT meeting, this note is to support including wind and coastal stewardship patterns in modeling fishing effort.

We at Sail Rock Ranch are one of the last few large intact coastal lands in sub-region 1. At each MLPA meeting, we have stood up to raise awareness about these de facto preserves. We have protected the land-sea interface off these properties for 80 plus years. It seems to us that the size-spacing scoring method used by itself enables—actually encourages—the teams to put a new label—SMR, SMCA—on these areas without substantive change in protection level for the sub-region. In the SAT session, we presented a map showing how the stakeholder proposals neatly avoid areas of public access and target areas off these last undeveloped properties. We fail to see how this placement (which has been identified as a selection bias in the literature) will improve habitat or fishery outcomes.

We support the goals of MLPA. As conservationists and partners of DFG wardens of long standing, we want to see it work. We are concerned that the current MPA placements in sub-region 1 simply ratify the status quo. Putting a new label on these already-protected waters is politically popular, but we all should expect more.

To give you a sense of usage, members of Sail Rock Ranch took fewer than 10 rockfish in 2007. Following termination of the nearshore longlining program of the 1990’s, rockfish are recovering. The urchin fishery has all but disappeared from its levels of the 90s, from 20 plus boats down to one or two in this sub-region.

To assist with modeling, we provided the latitude coordinates of these already-protected areas...

Dear Fish and Game Commission

by Arch Richardson

15 January 2008

California Fish & Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Commissioners

Ref: MLPA, North Central Coast Region

The big question???? Are the Governors cut backs going to affect the MLPA process in the making? Will it take away moneys from signage, enforcement or any other part of this process?

IF these cutbacks will hinder or slow down the MLPA process in anyway please stop it now, before it gets completed incorrectly. The MLPA staff has stated from the beginning that they “are only going to do this once, and do it right.” Well that is not happening. The rules set in their guidelines have been altered to fit their timeframe and the region they are dealing with. There are 5 regions in this process…why should the guidelines and process change from region to region? Is that fair to the Central Coast Region which is already law? From meeting to meeting I’m observing heated discussions between Stakeholders, Scientists and Staff…why? Because the guidelines are either changing or not deciphered the same way by all. It’s your job to get them back on track. The parallel process is now a jetport. “Hold off, we will use it in the next region”…No I say, use it in all regions or none. And it is a valuable tool, and proven to be of value.

IF in the North Central Coast Region the SMR’s were not put adjoining private property the enforcement problem would be minimized. As landowners historically have protected their lands and the adjoining waters. All large chunks of private lands North of Salt Point State Park and on to the Alder Creek area have been targeted for SMR’s. Why, it is our feeling as private property owner on the coast that we have been targeted because of “our private lands”. We have heard comments from Stakeholders, Scientist and yours truly Mr. Ken Wiseman, Exec. Director that “Your land is not user friendly,” “If it is private, close it,” and “If there is not public access, close it.” Was this bill written and passed about the ecosystem or public access? As one representing one of the 3 major land holding potencionally targeted for a SMR, I’m defiantly concerned and think this process is going in the wrong direction. The three major private land holders in this study region are the Richardson Family, Ratcliff Family and the Havens Neck LLC. The major property on this coast with miles and miles of coastline is the California State Parks System…look at your maps please. The Richardson Family owns about 5 miles of coastline here on the Sonoma Coast, everything between Salt Point State Park and The Sea Ranch, and the MLPA process has selected ALL of our lands for SMR’s. We are loosing 125 years of heritage, 125 years of care and management of our terrestrial and non-terrestrial ecosystem. 100% LOSE!!!!! Is this fare?

IF the Governors cut backs included Fish & Game Officers as well as other law enforcement agencies, who will take the enforcement role? If State Parks are being closed, I’m assuming some Stake Park Personal will also be cut. Will this affect any of the Marine Life Protected Areas that are potencionally being earmarked in our area? We as good stewards and property owners throughout time have patrolled our own lands. Check out fences daily and doing the work of all law enforcement agencies. But will defiantly stop patrolling if this goes the way it is going. If we do see a problem or violation we will call someone…maybe…but who will come? Is Cal Tip going to be cut back too, or will there phone just ring and ring. Please think this over. Be advised the trespasser who crosses our lands and goes to a “targeted” reserve, SMR, is going there for a reason. He or she will be entering the Fort Knox of the Abalone Kingdom. At $100.00 per abalone on the black market…who wants to deal with this guys??? And all SMR’s will be a poachers delight if they boarder private lands.

IF our area was represented fairly on the Stakeholders Group, some of this would have never happened. There is NO private property owners, NO small business owners, NO Chamber of Commerce Members, NO retired F & G Wardens (as they know the problem areas) and NOBODY that know the history of this coast. I have offered my years of experience and my services to the MLPA process…and they don’t want me, or do they ask me questions…Hey that’s a loss to the system.

IF more rules, regulations and laws were enacted years ago we would not have this MLPA process today. In fact we might be money ahead (if there is a shortage) to cancel the MLPA process before we all end up in court and just make more and better laws.

Now who am I? … I’m a 60 year old native Sonoma County resident, 4th of 6th generation, representing 5 ranches in this battle, some 84+ family members. Past Pres. & First Pres. of The Sea Ranch VFD, Retired Sonoma County Reserve Deputy Sheriff (10 yrs, Badge #835), retired from the retail business in Stewarts Point in 2004, NRA Life Member, X-Commercial Salmon Fisherman, taught the F&G Hunter Safety Classes for 10 yrs, hold both a California Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License, Life Member of the California Rifle & Pistol Assn, Past Pres. of the Gualala River Steelhead Project, starting the restoration on the Gualala River, worked with the Dept. of F&G…probably more…

...but most of all I care! Care about what happens on this coast, both to the ecosystem and the great people that live here and visit here.

IF our coastline was in jeopardy or deprived of sea life, then yes, put an SMR here. But it is not, the Abalone count is up and the fish counts are unknown, as no studies have been done in this area. The system is placing SMR’s in this area just to keep the Bay Area people happy…Ask the scientist about fish studies in this Region…sorry there is none. As you can see there is way too many IF’S in this letter and this MLPA process.

Hope to meet you all at the BRTF Meeting on February 13th in Pacifica

Archer J. “Arch” Richardson
32333 Coast Hwy 1
Stewarts Point

Friday, January 11, 2008

MLPA Meetings

WHO: Master Plan Science Advisory Team
WHAT: Eighth meeting
WHEN: January 23, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Best Western Lighthouse Hotel
105 Rockaway Beach Avenue
Pacifica, CA 94044
and via simultaneous webcast on the day of the meeting at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp

WHAT: Public Workshop (public input on draft MPA proposals)
WHEN: February 4, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Sheraton Sonoma County
745 Baywood Drive
Petaluma, CA 94954

WHAT: Public Workshop (public input on draft MPA proposals)
WHEN: February 5, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Gualala Arts Center
46501 Gualala Road
Gualala, CA 95455

WHAT: Public Workshop (public input on draft MPA proposals)
WHEN: February 6, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Best Western Lighthouse Hotel
105 Rockaway Beach Avenue
Pacifica, CA 94044

WHO: Blue Ribbon Task Force
WHAT: Seventh meeting
WHEN: February 13-14, 2008
(first day is joint meeting with the California Fish and Game Commission)
WHERE: Best Western Lighthouse Hotel
105 Rockaway Beach Avenue
Pacifica, CA 94044
and via simultaneous webcast on the day of the meeting at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp

WHO: MLPA North Central Coast Regional Stakeholder Group
WHAT: Seventh meeting
WHEN: March 18-19, 2008
WHERE: Four Points by Sheraton
1010 Northgate Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
and via simultaneous webcast on the day of the meeting at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp

WHO: Master Plan Science Advisory Team
WHAT: Ninth meeting
WHEN: April 3, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Location to be determined (Pacifica or SFO)
and via simultaneous webcast on the day of the meeting at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp

WHO: Blue Ribbon Task Force
WHAT: Eighth meeting
WHEN: April 22-23, 2008
WHERE: Four Points by Sheraton
1010 Northgate Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
and via simultaneous webcast on the day of the meeting at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/meetings.asp