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