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Tolowa Dunes Update

California State Parks has released this image of the area proposed to be removed from Tolowa Dunes State Park.

Update 9/3/2010: A public notice has confirmed that on Friday, October 8th 2010, the California State Parks and Recreation Commission (CSPRC) will be holding a meeting to vote on a proposal to reclassify Tolowa Dunes to a “recreation area” which would allow hunting in what is now a State Park.  Activists are encouraged to attend the meeting at two locations: Elk Valley Rancheria at 2332 Howland Hill Road in Crescent City AND at the Beverly Hills City Hall, Room 280-B, 455 North Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills, CA (the location where CSPRC will be teleconferencing and making a decision).  EPIC’s review of the document has found that the action does not comply with CEQA or with the Coastal Act.  In fact, it is not entirely clear what State Parks is proposing with this document. 

State Parks Director Ruth Coleman appears determined to downgrade protection for this ecologically unique and culturally sensitive area at the behest of a few waterfowl hunters.  Director Coleman has indicated that it is her intent to open ponds and sloughs in the northern section of the Park to waterfowl hunting before the end of 2010, and is pursuing their reclassification from “Park” to “State Recreation Area.” To send a letter opposing the reclassification, click here

It seems unprecedented to rip out a piece of a Park that has already been designated. It will invite similar demands from small user groups for many units of California’s State Parks system. 

The Lake Earl Wildlife Area, adjacent to Tolowa Dunes, already provides nearly 5000 acres for waterfowl hunting including marshes and sloughs along some 60 miles of shoreline.  In other words, ample and diverse hunting opportunities are already available next door and there is no need for additional hunting areas.  It isn’t fair either, because it upsets the balance intended by the legislature between the Wildlife Area and the State Park. The Park’s dune ponds and sloughs in fact provide the only refuge on this coast for birds during the hunting season. 

The hunting area is proposed next to Yontocket where 450 men, women and children of the Tolowa tribe were slaughtered by militias in 1853, the second largest single massacre of native people in U.S. history. Hunting is proposed in Yontocket slough, where Tolowa tried to hide underwater and which “was just red with blood, with people floating around all over.” (Gould 1966b:33)  Most of the northern section of the Park, including the areas proposed for hunting, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 by the Tolowa people because of the many places of cultural, religious and ritual importance.  Some tribal members now view carrying or shooting guns in this area as an act of desecration.

Dune Ponds in TDSP, looking S. to Lake Earl, 2003

The State Park was established not only for its cultural significance but also its ecological importance.  The Tolowa Coast is a hot spot of biodiversity deserving greatly increased protection — and not less. It provides refuge for 315 bird, 500 plant, 400 mushroom and fungi, 21 fish, and 50 land mammal species as well as many threatened and sensitive species, including the threatened Western snowy plover and Oregon Silverspot butterfly and endangered Tidewater goby.  It is a globally designated “Important Bird Area.”

State Parks officials have said that this proposal poses no user conflicts and no environmental impacts. If you feel differently and would like to help, please write a short letter.  State your opposition to any reclassification or giveaway of Tolowa Dunes State Park for hunting, and describe how hunting will interfere with your enjoyment of this Park.  For example, hunting can scare people away from the dunes, displace birds and animals from their homes, conflict with bird and wildlife watching, disrupt peaceful enjoyment of nature, and show disrespect to the Tolowa and their ancestors.

Please take the time to express your concerns to the following officials before September 10th, and cc:;;;;

The email contact links have been updated since the last blogpost, so if you already sent a letter, please do so again, as additional lawmakers have been added to the list.

Thank you.


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