Coastal Bike Ride; Controversial Mill Pond

Yesterday i rode the full Coastal Trail that’s only been open about 13 years. First, the area—all the coastline next to the town of Ft. Bragg in Northern California—was fenced off for the 420 acre mill site, largest redwood mill in the country. Well, at least for a hundred years or so. When the mill shut down, the site remained fenced off due to toxic waste; once redwood ran short, Georgia-Pacific started burning toxic waste as fuel. Much of it has been hauled to some other area 200 miles away—poor sods who are receiving it. But much remains.

This is a beautiful spot, with some of the greatest biodiversity of any marine area. It was a very fun bike ride, from Pomo Bluffs at the south end of town, by the community college, to Mackerricher State Park, a woodsy, duney campground north of town. I can’t imagine the town leaving all the land unbuilt, undeveloped as it is now. (Especially with the new controversy of the Skunk Train claiming rights to develop it.) On a sunny day during Thanksgiving Week, there were many people out enjoying nature—walking, biking, riding one-wheel skateboard trotters—families, dogs.

The town of Ft. Bragg did not build up with a lot of thought to aesthetics between coastline and commerce. All along Highway 1, which is the main street of town, there are hardware stores, gas stations, etc… hiding the headlands. I fear that once it really opens up, every view will be blocked by hotels and restaurants. Geographically, the town of Mendocino is positioned ideally for seeing coastline, topped by an adorable, old-fashioned town dotted with water towers. If only some planning could bring about a charming melding of nature and old-style architecture in Ft. Bragg. If I could choose, I would leave the headlands as is, take down every eye-sore building, bring back an ecologically conscious landscaping right up to the buildings that have history and charm. But who am I?

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