Taking a cue from the national Occupy movement, residents of Mendocino County's rural Anderson Valley are staging a three-day occupation of Hendy Woods State Park in an effort to save it from the state's budget ax.
Beginning Friday afternoon, Occupy Hendy Woods will host an array of activities, including educational workshops, yoga, storytelling, community meals and a campout at the park, which has closed its campsites for the season.
"The aim is to make it a fun event that leads us into a more cohesive, organized group that can come to some kind of consensus of where we go from here," said Cyd Bernstein, 24, an organizer and Boonville native who has a degree in environmental studies from UC Berkeley.
It will be a peaceful and respectful occupation of the park, she said. Participants are asked to pay the park use fee, to take out their own trash and to help clean up on Sunday. The group also is working with park officials to make it a problem-free event, Bernstein said.
Hendy Woods is one of eight state parks in Mendocino County slated for closure. Statewide, 70 of the state's 279 parks, including five in Sonoma County and one in Lake County, are expected to close next year.
The process of choosing which parks to close has been sharply criticized because it did not consider the economic impacts on rural areas that depend on tourism for survival.
"It could be devastating," said Debra De Graw, executive officer of the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce.
The Anderson Valley — a bucolic winegrowing region that stretches from Yorkville to Navarro, with Boonville in between — will lose its only state park.
"The only place people would have for a hike would be along the highway," said Kathy Bailey, a member of the Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce. The next largest park in the area is a 16-acre county park, Indian Creek.
Hendy's closure would harm both the local community and tourism.
"It takes the heart out of our visitor attractions," which includes fine wines and good food, Bailey said.
Hendy Woods, located near Highway 128 about eight miles northwest of Boonville, features two virgin redwood groves on 816 acres. The Navarro River runs through the park, which has 94 campsites, 25 picnic sites and four small cabins.
Valley residents have a strong attachment to the park and don't want to see it closed.
Occupy Hendy Woods "was born of this tremendous love we have of this park," said Bernstein, who works on her family's apple ranch.
Her elementary school visited the park, friends held birthday parties there and she ran through the park for track in high school.
Park advocates on the Mendocino Coast also are rallying to save their parks from closure.
The Mendocino Area Parks Association is hoping to organize volunteer groups and funding so they can take over operating their parks on the closure list.
Similar efforts are taking place around the state.
Occupy Hendy Woods begins Friday at 3 p.m., at which time participants are asked to meet at the front entrance to the park.
Forecasts of inclement weather won't halt the planned occupation, which is expected to draw between 50 and "a few hundred" participants.
"It's a rain or shine event," Bernstein said.
Pot around Sonoma County
Three Sonoma County cannabis dispensaries will be open for adult-use sales on Jan. 1, 2018:
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
785 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol
SPARC/Peace in Medicine
10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
6771 Sebastopol Ave. #100, Sebastopol
Mercy Wellness of Cotati
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
7950 Redwood Drive #8, Cotati
Pot around Sonoma County
Sebastopol: Adult-use and medical cannabis sales take place at the city’s two dispensaries. Manufacturing and other aspects of the business will be considered in 2018. Indoor cultivation for personal use is allowed.
Cotati: Allows adult-use and medical cannabis sales at its sole dispensary.
Santa Rosa: Medical marijuana businesses are allowed in the city. Santa Rosa will allow sales of adult-use cannabis on Jan. 19. Indoor cultivation for personal use is allowed.
Cloverdale: Up to two cannabis dispensaries are allowed in the city, although there are none currently. Manufacturing, distribution and cultivation business permit applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Petaluma: Allows cannabis delivery services and some cannabis manufacturing but has not allowed any dispensaries inside city limits.
Windsor: Dispensaries and other types of cannabis businesses as well as outdoor cultivation is banned in Windsor. Residents must get a town permit for personal-use cultivation, which is only allowed to occur indoors.
Sonoma city: Cannabis cultivation, indoor and outdoor, is banned but the rule will be reconsidered December 2018. Delivery businesses with headquarters outside the city must acquire a city permit to conduct deliveries in the city. Some personal cultivation is allowed but residents must comply with a variety of city requirements like security systems.
Sonoma County: Rules are in places for medical marijuana businesses and supervisors will consider rules for adult use in 2018.
Rohnert Park: Does not all manufacturing, distributing or selling marijuana within city limits.
Healdsburg: Prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries.
Find more in-depth cannabis news, culture and politics at EmeraldReport.com, authoritative marijuana coverage from the PD.