The Teamwork of Preserving the Coast

This is a historial post from Hiking the California Trail, a 1998/2002 book set by Bob Lorentz and Richard Nichols. Where possible an update has been provided.

Protecting and preserving the California coast, with its 1200-mile shore spanning fifteen counties, is a huge job. It requires ongoing efforts from many governments, agencies, private nonprofit groups, and individuals. Many of them have helped create the California Coastal Trail.

Redwood National and State Parks provide one excellent example of such efforts. The California State Parks Department holds more of California’s coastal lands than any other agency. They’ve been saving the coast and building trails since the 1920s. Prairie Creek, among the first state parks, already sheltered half of today’s 14,500 pristine acres by 1940, when Del Norte Coast and Jedediah Smith State Parks had begun as well. Protection of the north coast’s natural environment accelerated after Redwood National Park was created in 1968. Today these state parks and the national park are managed cooperatively. These agencies created miles of the Coastal Trail here during the 1980s and 1990s. The National Park Service built some of the first Coastal Trail sections at Point Reyes National Seashore in the 1970s. NPS later created more CCT in Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Three other federal agencies help preserve California’s coast. The Bureau of Land Management operates the 60,000-acre King Range on the Lost Coast. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the national wildlife refuges, with big holdings at Humboldt and San Francisco Bays, Moss Landing and elsewhere. More recently involved in coastal preservation is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA manages California’s four national marine sanctuaries, including the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nation’s largest.

Other state agencies helping preserve the coast include the Department of Fish and Game with 40 reserves and refuges in the coastal zone, and the University of California Reserve System with ten coastal reserves. The California Coastal Commission, created by the Coastal Act of 1976, plays a key role with its mission to protect, maintain, and enhance the coastal environment and maintain public access and recreational opportunities. The Coastal Conservancy preserves, improves, and restores coastal public access and natural resources by building trails and buying threatened land. County and city governments also help preserve the coast within their jurisdictions The California Conservation Corps and the federal Americorps workers are unsung heros without whom many California trails would be in disrepair. These young workers do much of the hands-on physical labor required to build and maintain trails. On top of other important conservation work, CCC’s and Americorps’ trail work helps all the other government agencies get and keep trails open. Inmate crews and Division of Forestry crews also help with pressing trail work.

Many private groups help preserve the coast and provide land for the Coastal Trail. Foremost of these, Save-the-Redwoods League, has saved 125,000 acres for parks since 1918. The Nature Conservancy, with five coastal reserves in California, works for coastal preservation. The Planning and Conservation League, Trust for Public Land, and Coastwalk have all helped acquire coastal lands. Without the dozens of local land trusts involved in so many communities, far less coastline would be saved. When these groups team up, they accomplish even more work for coastal preservation. You as an individual can also help preserve the coast. Be aware of coastal issues, write your elected representatives about them, and volunteer with a local or regional group or government agency to save our coast and complete the CCT.

Originally Published in Hiking the California Coastal Trail: Guide to Walking the Golden State's Beaches and Bluff from Border to Border - Volume One: Oregon to Monterey (2nd Edition) by Bob Lorentzen and Richard Nichols
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