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Magic Forest

Letter to the Editor, published in the
Independent Coast Observer
December 7, 2018

We would like to add our voices to those who are calling for the expansion of the regional park into the Magic Forest along the Gualala floodplain. There are so many reasons why this visionary plan would create the greatest good for the greatest number. From an ecological viewpoint, only a small portion of the riparian corridor is currently protected by the regional park along the estuary, not enough to ensure the survival of most of the native plants and animals that live upstream. The floodplain forest is a key component of this wildlife corridor and also provides ecosystem services, not only by trapping sediment and cleaning the river but also through sequestering enormous amounts of carbon—public benefits that would be lost with logging.

Many have spoken about the boon such a park would bring to the local economy. There are now metrics for quantifying these benefits in real dollars—for recreation, improved health of park visitors, property values, and boosts to local businesses, but these come only with the commitment to parks. And, although the river itself belongs to the public, our community is severely under-served in terms of access to it. Besides the regional park, there is only Soda Springs Reserve (48 acres on Buckeye Creek) and an unsigned access of 1-2 acres where Haupt Creek joins the Wheatfield Fork.

Beyond economic benefits, this park would feed the spirit. The stately redwoods provide a quiet, shade-dappled sanctuary along the river. It’s human nature to be drawn to water where we seek spiritual restoration. Creating parks is one way that we as a community take care of ourselves and each other and leave space for those who will come after us. We urge the community and the Burch family to come together to help make this park a reality.

Laura Baker and Lewis Lubin
Annapolis, CA

Gualala River floodplain
Gualala River floodplain, upstream from the existing County Park