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New segment of Coastal Prairie Trail in Bodega Bay opens Friday

A year after her death at 55, federal, state and county officials will celebrate Elizabeth “Liz” Burko’s love of people and parks with a dedication ceremony along the newest half-mile segment of the proposed 3.1-mile Bodega Bay Pedestrian & Bicycle Trail.

A 120-foot-long bridge that spans an annual creek along the trail’s recently completed 0.55-mile segment will be named for Burko, a Bodega Bay resident until her death on Aug. 22, 2015, after a vehicle accident. She managed the State Parks’ Sonoma-Mendocino District for the last eight years of her 30-year career.

“Liz dedicated her life to parks, and she bridged relationships between agencies in order to increase opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart said.

The newest segment will connect with a 0.47-mile trail that links Bodega Dunes Campground to the Bodega Bay Community Center and the Children’s Bell Tower.

That section of the trail, also dedicated to Burko, was completed in 2014. The two segments are referred to as the Coastal Prairie Trail.

The 1.1-mile Coastal Prairie Trail is the northernmost portion of the proposed 3.4-mile, 8-foot-wide Bodega Bay Bike & Pedestrian Trail, intended to afford safe and scenic bike and pedestrian travel to retail shops, restaurants, parks businesses and scenic outlooks along state Highway 1 between Salmon Creek and Doran Beach.

These other large segments are expected to cost a total of $4.4 million and will begin when funding is available:

The 0.32-mile North Harbor Coastal Trail, which runs from the Community Center south to Bay Flat Road;

The 1.6-mile Harbor Coastal Trail, which will continue alongside the town’s commercial center to Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, near Doran Regional Park.

“It has been a scramble to find funding,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Project Manager Mark Cleveland.

Some sections of remaining segments will be located in tidelands and will require a lengthy environmental review process and public input, Cleveland said. The next step is extending the North Harbor Coastal Trail to Eastshore Road in the next two or three years.

“It is fitting that we honor Liz’s legacy with the extension of the Coastal Prairie Trail,” Supervisor Efren Carrillo said.

“The trail is crucial to our larger mission of connecting people to the beauty and wonder of the Sonoma Coast.”

The cost of the Bodega Bay Trail is estimated at $6 million. Public hearings began in 2005, with the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopting in 2010 a County Bicycle and Pedestrian plan that includes the Bodega Bay Trail as a high priority.

Friday’s ceremonies begin at the Bodega Bay Community Center, 2255 Highway 1, and include a 10 a.m. bird walk led by Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and a dedication ceremony at ?11 a.m.

U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman, State Sen. Mike McGuire, Supervisor Efren Carrillo, Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat and members of Burko’s family are scheduled to attend.

The Bodega Bay Pedestrian & Bicycle Trail project is part of the 1,200-mile California Coastal Trail from Mexico to Oregon.

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