Protect the Field Station in Stornetta National Monument
Recently, members of our local Gateway Committee in Point Arena, CA, that works with BLM to provide input and to ensure city involvement in the development and management of our recently dedicated Stornetta California Coastal National Monument, attended the Mendocino Lake College Board of Trustees meeting last Wednesday to represent their view regarding the sale of the Point Arena Field Station to BLM and why this field station should be permanently protected! Their statement can be seen in the editorial sections of our local newspaper and we encourage you to support this measure. Below is the Gateway group's formal statement and opinion regarding the preservation of the Point Arena Field Station.
Save the Point Arena Field Station by Preserving it in the California Coastal National Monument
We too want to save the Point Arena Field Station and appreciate that it is a unique and valuable resource that should be permanently protected. That’s why it should become part of the California Coastal National Monument, joining the Point Arena –Stornetta Unit as a federally recognized national treasure.
For over two years the sale of the former LORAN station that is now surrounded by the national monument has been discussed with those of us who are partners with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on the California Coastal National Monument Point Arena Gateway Group. The buildings at the station are in serious need of repair and the rehabilitation costs are estimated at between one and two million dollars. Mendocino-Lake College District, finding even maintenance expenses in this exposed coastal environment to be a serious drain on its budget, actually initiated the proposed sale to BLM.
Everyone agrees that the state-owned tide pools of the station’s cove must remain inaccessible to the public. BLM has offered to protect this area with fencing and signage identifying it as a Special Study Area and closed to the public (as some areas of the Point Arena Unit are currently protected). Furthermore, the college is considering “reserving” access to the tide pools, legally blocking public access under trespass statute.
The valuable research and long term studies will be allowed to continue as a condition of the sale.
Additionally, several options have been identified that would reserve some of the buildings such as the classroom/lab building and the houses. This would reduce the $1.5 million sale price to some extent, although considering the poor condition of the buildings, they may be more a liability than a value.
An appraisal is now underway to take into account these various options. The college has determined that $40 to $50 thousand a year will be necessary to maintain the buildings once they are renovated. Even this expense is considerable for a facility that serves between 11 to 100 district college students a year. We hope that other academic institutions that use the facility will help defray these costs and allow the buildings to be preserved for education, research, field trips and for a full-time caretaker.
We would hate to see the college lose this opportunity to save and maintain this facility. The $1.5 million Land and Water Conservation Fund allocation will expire in December of this year. This funding will not come our way again. These funds were secured because of the national monument designation and all the outreach, advocacy and publicity that went into this effort. Furthermore a key decision-maker in the allocation of these funds, who helped make the acquisition of the Point Arena Lands possible, is retiring this year.
We urge the Friends of Point Arena Field Station and the College Board of Trustees to work quickly toward closing a sale agreement that would: Save the pristine tide pools; Retain the education and research; Provide funding to restore the necessary structures.
Let’s go forward to make this happen – Save the Point Arena Field Station!
Leslie Dahlhoff, Point Arena
Merita Whatley, Point Arena
Lori Hubbart, Point Arena
Susan Moon, Point Arena
Madge Malone in her blogging zone!