Update: June, 2010
The California Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction over coastal fireworks, in a case involving the Gualala Festivals Committee (GFC).
In 2008, the California Coastal Commission told the GFC that they would need to apply for a permit to set off fireworks over the Gualala River estuary.
Gualala Point Island
The Commission acted to protect sea birds on Gualala Point Island, after the The Sea Ranch Association’s California Coastal National Monument Task Force, conducting observations under the supervision of the federal Bureau of Land Management, documented the disturbance of the birds by fireworks in 2007.
The GFC, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, has challenged the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction repeatedly, and has lost every appeal. The Supreme Court’s rejection of their case should be the end of this issue.
Friends of the Gualala River has publicly opposed detonating fireworks over the Gualala River estuary since it was first proposed.
The Gualala River lagoon (estuary) 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.
Update: March, 2010
The San Francisco First District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that the California Coastal Commission has authority over coastal fireworks. The decision has been certified for publication.
The Commission told the Gualala Festivals Committee that they would need to apply for a coastal permit, after a report showed that Brandt’s cormorants abandoned their nests on Gualala Point Island following the 2007 fireworks show (see below).
Rather than follow the Coastal Commission’s permit procedure, the Festivals Committee has allied themselves with the Pacific Legal Foundation to attack the authority of the Coastal Commission.
The Coastal Commission is responsible for protecting California’s coastal resources, which includes the Wild & Scenic Gualala River’s estuary / lagoon as well as nesting birds on Gualala Point Island. Friends of the Gualala River supports the Coastal Commission’s efforts to protect our coastal resources.
Update: July, 2009
We had a good 4th of July this year in Gualala. The town was full of vacationers, and there was plenty to do for everyone.
The annual parade in Pojnt Arena was small, but full of independent spirit. There were picnics and barbeques, a Pirate Faire, music at Cypress Village and the traditional community fireworks show off Point Arena pier on Friday night.
The conservative Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) reported that Gualala was “a ghost town” on the 4th of July. What nonsense!
PLF filed suit against the Coastal Commission for requiring a permit for fireworks over the Gualala River lagoon. The Commission was acting at the behest of local residents to protect coastal resources, including nesting birds on Gualala Point Island.
The PLF apparently believes that their lawsuit is so important (“At stake is nothing less than our individual freedom”) that they are justified in substituting make-believe for the truth. Gualala was not “a ghost town” on the 4th of July, as they claim. The town was full of people enjoying the Independence Day holiday.
2008 Fireworks over the Gualala River estuary
2007 Fireworks over the Gualala River estuary