Thursday, July 12, 2007

Update on Coast Dairies: BLM conveyance soon(ish)

The Coast Dairies property is a 7000 acre parcel of land north of Santa Cruz which was purchased by the Trust for Public Land to be protected as public open space. The details of the deal and the natural features of the land was well documented in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A year ago, the 400 acres of the coastal side of the Coast Dairies property had been conveyed to State Parks. The remaining 5,700 acres of inland property was supposed to be transfered to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) but there have been some setbacks. Over the past couple of weeks I have had conversations with officials at the BLM about the status of the Coast Dairies Property.

One of the major problems which held up conveyance was a minor contamination issue from the CEMEX mining operations above the property. A canyon in the Coast Dairies property was used for waste rock and it was covering some pipes. There were concerns about leakage and BLM didn't want to take this area due to the potential long term liability of cleaning it up. We should note that there is no known contamination issue on the land. One proposal would be to sell the waste rock area back to CEMEX. However, the TPL and the County didn't really like this idea so it languished for a while. More recently TPL, the County, BLM and CEMEX finally came to an agreement to sell this portion of the land to CEMEX so the last major hurdle has been resolved.

All that needs to be done before conveyance to BLM is to do a new survey to draw up the lot lines and take care of other bureaucratic minutiae. The Field Manager felt that BLM will take possession of the property in October at the earliest or January at the latest. An interim public access plan will be in place soon after conveyance.

BLM has a mandate to protect and restore the natural habitat but the agency has traditionally been very recreation friendly. A trails plan will be drafted according to Chapter 7 in the Coast Dairies Long-Term Resource and Access Plan:
The Trails Plan will provide for a more extensive trail network on the Property than is described for the Interim Access Stage. It is likely that most of the trails specified in the Trails Plan will use the alignments of existing farm, ranch, and mining roads. However, not all of the existing roads on the Property are appropriate or desirable as recreational trails, and some trail alignments may use new routes or the alignments of old, abandoned roads.

The Trails Plan will include trail alignments, allowable uses for each trail, and targeted use levels. The Trails Plan will seek to balance the goal of allowing recreational access to the interior of the property with the goal of resource protection by specifying appropriate trail densities, uses, and design standards.
MBOSC is looking forward to a partnership with the BLM and will be participating in the trails planning process. We will be active participants in the stewardship of the Coast Dairies lands so that we can protect and enjoy this treasure of public land for many generations.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Looking at the BLM's preliminary trail concpet for this property, it sure looks like they have a lot of out and back trails, running from the coast up the drainages and back. And there is a huge area in the southeast inland corner of the property with no trails suggested.

I suggest some connector trails to tie the upper ends of the trails together. And the corner of the property with no trails should at least have a loop off the nearest trail.