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Fireworks over the Gualala River estuary?
Update: June 25, 2008
Today, the 1st District Court of Appeals rejected the appeal by the Gualala Festivals Committee. The Coastal Commission’s order stands: no fireworks over the Gualala River estuary without a permit.
Update: June 19, 2008
The Gualala Festivals Committee canceled their controversial plans to detonate fireworks over the Gualala River estuary on July 4, after a judge declined their request to issue an emergency stay of the Coastal Commission’s cease and desist order. (see: Bird safety trumps Gualala fireworks – Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Update: June 11, 2008
Today, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to order the Gualala Festivals Committee to cease and desist from conducting a fireworks display over the Gualala River estuary.
The Gualala River estuary (lagoon) and nearby Gualala Point Island provide habitat for numerous species of seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, marine mammals and anadromous fish. Friends of the Gualala River is dedicated to protecting those species and their habitat. We believe that the lagoon is a great place to enjoy the beauty of nature, but not an appropriate place for fireworks.
In 2007, stewards for the local section of the California Coastal National Monument monitored the impact of fireworks explosions on the nesting seabirds, and documented nest abandonment by Brandt’s cormorants. See:
Seabird and Marine Mammal Monitoring and Response to a Fireworks Display at Gualala Point Island 6.7 MB pdf, 48 pages
There is little need for a fireworks display in Gualala, since there is a long-standing tradition of Independence Day fireworks nearby, over the working harbor at the Point Arena cove.
For a description of the Coastal Commission hearing in Santa Rosa, see “Gualala Fireworks — Cease & Desist Order” on Mendonoma Blogspot.
For a thorough report on the fireworks issue, including numerous letters from both proponents and opponents of the fireworks, as well as the Coastal Commission staff analysis, see:
Commission Cease and Desist Order No. CCC-08-CD-07 (Gualala Festivals Committee, Gualala, Mendocino County) 5.7 MB pdf, 195 pages
Update: June, 2008
The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is using the Gualala fireworks issue to attack the California Coastal Commission.
In an op-ed article published in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Gualala vs. Goliath: A battle over fireworks, freedom and birds, the PLF concluded by saying,
“Local Independence Day fireworks shows should be encouraged, not chilled by the heavy-handed tactics of a Coastal Commission obsessed with common birds. The Coastal Commission has already done enough damage to one American tradition: private property. It should keep its hands off the Fourth of July.”
A group of local residents wrote a rebuttal of the factual errors in the PLF’s diatribe. Their concluding remarks were,
“The Commission does not take a position on patriotism or Independence Day celebrations. They merely enforce the Coastal Act. If it becomes evident that coastal activities are harming coastal resources, they must act. The fact that the activities are related to patriotic displays or Independence Day celebrations is not an exemption under the California Coastal Act or the federal Clean Water Act.”
Unlike the PLF, Friends of the Gualala River respects the environment – even “common birds,” and as patriotic Americans we are proud to protect our natural heritage. We will celebrate Independence Day — and the wild beauty of the coast — quietly in Gualala this year.
Those of us who enjoy fireworks will visit the traditional annual display at Point Arena Cove, a working harbor, where nesting seabirds are not disrupted as they were by fireworks near Gualala Point Island.
Update: April, 2008
According to the Independent Coast Observer, the California Coastal Commission intends to issue a cease and desist order to the Gualala Festivals Committee, ordering them not to set off fireworks without a permit. John Bower has told the Festivals Committee that they may not use his property to launch fireworks, as they have done in the past.
2007 Fireworks over the Gualala River estuary.