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Sonoma Coast site gets money for future public access

The California Coastal Conservancy has approved a $500,000 contribution toward infrastructure improvements that will open the way for public access to the 5,630-acre Jenner Headlands Preserve on the Sonoma Coast.

The funding will allow construction of a 30-space parking lot with room for two school buses and bicycles, part of a larger project that will include a 400-foot-long pathway to a day-use/picnic area and restroom, all accessible by the disabled. Plans also include interpretive signage, wetlands restoration and enhancements and an overlook providing scenic views of the coastline and Pacific Ocean.

The Jenner Headlands Preserve was purchased in 2009 for $36 million through a coalition of land conservation agencies, including the Sonoma Land Trust and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. It remains the most expensive single land conservation deal in county history.

The land has been open only for guided tours since its acquisition while designs for environmentally sensitive and safe access were developed.

In announcing the Coastal Conservancy contribution, state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, credited Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairman Efren Carrillo and the rest of the board, as well as The Wildlands Conservancy, which now owns the land, with moving the project forward.

The Wildlands Conservancy is still raising additional funds for continued improvements estimated to cost around?$1.8 million.

The conservancy hopes to break ground on the project by fall with the goal of opening to the public next year.

You can reach staff writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.

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