Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, Dec. 19, 2022 @ 2:49 p.m. / Community, Local Government, Parks

Del Norte, State Parks, Tribes Seek to Revitalize Decade-Old Trail, Parking Lot Project at Point St. George

County, state and tribal partners hope to revitalize a trail project that includes parking lot improvements at Point St. George. | Map courtesy of Del Norte County


2020 Point St. George Project Proposal


County, state and tribal representatives hope to revitalize a trail project and to improve the parking lot at Point St. George north of Crescent City.

The nearly decade-old project included installing a vault toilet, adding ADA-compliant parking at the main lot, protecting cultural resources and installing interpretive signs.

Environmental review and conceptual plans for the parking lot improvements and restrooms were finished in 2010 with input from the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, Elk Valley Rancheria, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks. The parking lot continues to be “an issue” today, Kunstal said.

“Now that we know more about the issues in the parking lot, we are looking at revising that (preliminary design) based on the input we’ve had from stakeholders,” Kunstal said. “The next step is sort of setting up where we go from here. We know we have to revise the parking plan and prepare new engineered plans. We need to update some of the studies to reflect current conditions. The CEQA document may need to be updated. We need to obtain permits from a variety of different agencies and then we need to pursue construction funding through grants from the Wildlife Conservation Board and the State Coastal Conservancy.”

The Point St. George Heritage Area is managed by Del Norte County, CDFW and State Parks. The former U.S. Coast Guard barracks are privately owned, Kunstal said.

Del Norte acquired the 339-acre property from a private owner in 2002 with help from the Wildlife Conservation Board, Coastal Conservancy and State Parks in an attempt to “solve protection and public access issues,” Kunstal said.

A year later, the county and other stakeholders created the Point St. George Management Plan, which addressed habitat restoration and the construction of public trails to protect natural resources. The plan called for the potential construction of a caretaker facility and interpretive center to protect Tolowa cultural sites as well as maintaining public access along the shoreline.

In 2010 the county completed the first phase of the project, which included upgrades at the Garth’s Beach parking lot, installing gates at several turnouts and the conceptual plans and California Environmental Quality Act documents for the main lot and trail.

In an email to the Outpost on Monday, Kunstal said she’s not sure why the project didn’t move forward.

“If I had to guess, it was staffing and finding time to apply for grants to fund the project and then manage the project if funded,” she said. “It was handled by the (county) administrative office at the time and the Community Development Department participated in its role as lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act.”

In 2020, the county submitted a public access grant “pre-application” to the Wildlife Conservation Board for the Point St. George improvements. Though it had help from the California Coastal Conservancy, competition for the money was fierce and the county’s request didn’t make it to the next step, Kunstal said.

Kunstal said they’re still working on a cost estimate for the current project.

“The parking lot component is still being evaluated by the county engineer and State Parks staff,” she said. “The two primary funding sources are the State Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board.”

In 2022, the county reconvened its stakeholders group and has held several meetings. Kunstal said Board Chairman Gerry Hemmingsen had asked her to give his colleagues background on “where we’ve been.” She said she will bring the project back to the Board early next year with ideas on how it can move forward.

“It’s a very complex project with a lot of different stakeholders,” she said. “It’s going to be a very big project whenever we figure out who is going to be the lead on it.”

Hemmingsen, whose final meeting as District 4 Supervisor was Dec. 13, said he, Kunstal, CDFW and State Parks had been working on the project for “quite awhile.” He said he hopes the trail project in particular will draw tourists.

“Having a facility where they can park their cars and have a restroom and not be tearing up the neighbor’s property is going to be a huge asset,” he said. “We need to be supportive of this project, I believe, and with help from the WCB as well as the Coastal Conservancy, State Parks and Fish and Wildlife, I think those agencies can push this forward and we can move on.”

The Board’s newest member, District 5 Supervisor Dean Wilson, asked about ongoing maintenance of the parking lot and trail once it’s finished.

“I love seeing new projects,” he said. “It’s great, but we have to be able to maintain them and provide for them because that’s a huge area. A lot of that area was maintained through grazing — cattle management — and as that goes away and other responsibilities have to go forward to maintain, especially those larger areas and to provide trails, maintenance and everything, that’s a large expenditure and, unfortunately, resources are slim.”

Erin Gates, deputy superintendent for the California State Parks’ North Coast Redwoods District, said since much of the trail project falls on state park land it would be their responsibility to maintain it.

“California State Parks has a very robust and skilled trails program, so we would be the ones that would be building the trail for Del Norte County on their property,” she said. “We’ve provided cost estimates for, not only that portion of the trail in terms of supplies, but in terms of material and labor that would be needed. We have not determined if State Parks would be managing the trail on Del Norte County property. That’s totally up for discussion.”

According to Gates, the potential collaboration between State Parks, Del Norte County, CDFW the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation and Elk Valley Rancheria is similar to potential partnerships State Parks is working on with Crescent City. She said Downtown Crescent City and Beachfront Park is the hub that helps connect people to other “adventures” like Point St. George.

“We don’t have infrastructure out there to support visitation either from the community or from visitors,” she said. “We’re really wanting to revitalize the trail project and enhance it to make it another destination.”


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