Mill Bend Property now in Conservation Hands!

 

Mil Bend, the scenic property at the mouth of the Gualala River, has been secured by a conservation buyer in partnership with Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) as the first step in preserving and protection the Gualala River estuary, the gateway to the Gualala River watershed.  RCLC now has two years to raise funds to pay fo the property and ensure its permanent preservation.

The interim purchase of the Mill Bend property will enable the community to protect and restore the estuary and wetlands, which are critical habitat for many species of fish and wildlife, and at the same time will provide opportunities for riverfront trails and better river access for fishermen and paddlers while protecting the river from off-road vehicles and other damage.

 

The Mill Bend property consists of two riverfront parcels totaling 112 acres and includes the Mill Bend, a parcel west of the Highway One bridge, and the Lower Mill parcel which fronts the estuary along the river on the east side of the Highway One bridge and connects with the Gualala Arts property.

FACTS ABOUT MILL BEND

Mill Bend is a 53-acre parcel situated along the Gualala Estuary west of Highway One. Securing this scenic property will provide an opportunity to extend the California Coastal Trail south from the Gualala Bluff Trail through Mill Bend and on to the Sonoma County Regional Park and The Sea Ranch.

The Upper Mill parcel is a 59-acre property east of Highway One which extends from the river to the Gualala Arts Center. The former mill site area on the bluff top is currently zoned for planned mixed commercial and residential use. Securing the property will ensure that the site will be preserved for its conservation values rather than used for commercial development and will provide greater community access to the river.

The Gualala River Estuary provides an important freshwater environment for young steelhead, a small Coho salmon population, the Gualala roach, and other fish species. Red-legged frogs, seals, river otters, osprey and a pair of bald eagles are among the many wildlife species that live along the river. The purchase of the Mill Bend property will forever protect this valuable estuary and provide opportunities for restoration of critical habitat for salmonids and other fish.

Public Access The riverbank has provided historic public access to the river in the past. Unfortunately, truck and OHV use in the willow wetlands and on the gravel banks has degraded the riverbed. Purchase will allow improvements to be made to protect the environmentally sensitive habitat of endangered and threatened species and will provide for responsible public access. The Mill Bend property includes 13 acres on the south bank of the river directly adjacent to the Sonoma County Gualala Point Regional Park. Its purchase would allow the existing park boundaries to be extended to the estuary.

Potential Future Expansion As the gateway to the Gualala River, Mill Bend is a key piece in the long-term plan for the Gualala River Park envisioned by the community to eventually acquire other property along the river in order to further conservation and restoration efforts in the watershed.

Conservation Partners In late 2017, when the two key parcels along the Mill Bend in the Gualala River became available for sale for the first time in 70 years, RCLC and other local conservation groups formed the Mill Bend Coalition to find a way to acquire this property and forever preserve the natural features of the scenic gateway to the Gualala River watershed. The conservation buyers of the Allemall Foundation set up a Gualala River Park LLC to enable the foundation to hold the property while RCLC raised the funds needed for its permanent protection. Mendocino Land Trust took an early lead in working with RCLC to identify potential funders and to set up the necessary environmental testing of the site. As the project moved forward, RCLC has taken the lead role in working with the Allemall Foundation and will lead the community effort to fund the purchase and stewardship of the property.

Contributions RCLC is seeking funds for the purchase and stewardship of Mill Bend. Contributions can be made to the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy via its website at www.rclc.org or by sending a check to P.O. Box 1511, Gualala, CA 95445

The Mill Bend project is endorsed by members of our local community and by the following organizations:

  • Sonoma Land Trust
  • Mendocino Land Trust
  • Friends of the Gualala River
  • California Native Plant Society
  • Gualala Municipal Advisory Council
  • Lynda Hopkins, Board of Supervisors Sonoma County
  • Sonoma County Regional Parks District

Local and visitor support is essential to demonstrate the commitment to this park and to those organizations that can help make this happen.