Nonprofit plans enhancements to Sonoma Coast State Park facilities

Aided by a $38,000 state grant, a Sonoma County nonprofit aims to reopen two parking areas at Bodega Head and boost public use of little-known Campbell Cove at the mouth of Bodega Harbor.

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods was among the 52 organizations that received a total of more than $1.3 million in grants from the Coastal Conservancy, the state agency announced last week.

Michele Luna, executive director of the Stewards, said the funds would be used to enhance use of the entire Sonoma Coast State Park, with a focus on Campbell Cove, a frequent destination for school groups.

Stewards, which took over operation of Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Guerneville last year, now plans to reopen the east parking lot on Bodega Head and a paved lot at Campbell Cove.

The two parking lots have been closed for about two years, leaving open only the west lot on Bodega Head.

The cove, with a sandy beach on the tranquil harbor, is a "nice, safe location" for school field trips, Luna said.

When students from Madrone Elementary in Rincon Valley visited last year during a visit by tall sailing ships, two students in wheelchairs were able to reach the beach, she said.

Stewards plans to partner with the nearby Bodega Marine Laboratory to bring students to the cove and the research facility operated by UC Davis.

A separate $25,000 grant from the Dean Witter Foundation will pay for a mobile marine education visitor center, mounted on a 32-foot-long trailer, that would visit Campbell Cove, Luna said.

The center will offer displays and interactive features, along with sales of educational materials to help fund its operation.

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