For Immediate Release
Karen Schambach (530) 305-0503; Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
California Drops Park Hunting Plan, For Now
Conservation Groups Seek Increased Protection for Tolowa Dunes State Park
SACRAMENTO - California Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman
has abandoned her controversial plan to reclassify a portion of Tolowa
Dunes State Park as a State Recreation Area. The unprecedented
reclassification scheme was an attempt to allow waterfowl hunting in the
State Park despite a legislative prohibition of such use. Coleman has
now proposed to use a General Plan process as the means of pursuing
hunting in the park.
The conservation groups who successfully fought both the
reclassification proposal, and an earlier attempt to transfer 1200 acres
of this Park to the Department of Fish and Game, say State Parks
leadership continues to focus on perpetuating illegal uses, rather than
protecting the irreplaceable resources of Tolowa Dunes. The groups vow
to seek increased protection for Tolowa Dunes State Park under the
General Plan process.
Joe Gillespie of Friends of Del Norte expressed a mixture of
relief and puzzlement at the news. "Conservationists have been
requesting a General Plan be prepared for Tolowa Dunes for years. Up to
now, we've always been told there's no money for a General Plan to
ensure protection of the natural and cultural resources of Tolowa
Dunes. Now suddenly, with the parks system in crisis, and when the
Director wants to remove part of the Park, there's money for a General
The unprecedented proposal to reclassify a 600-acre portion
of Tolowa Dunes State Park had created a stir among conservationists,
Native Americans, the Coastal Commission and State Park employees, not
only because of the reclassification, but because the Department
appeared intent on making the change administratively and without the
required public process. The area proposed for hunting adjoins the site
of the 1853 massacre in which 450 members of the Tolowa tribe were
slaughtered, and the cemetery where Tolowa graves were looted in 2010.
Karen Schambach of Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER) noted, "State Parks leadership tried to pressure
local staff into agreeing to an illegal 'arrangement' for the benefit of
a few hunters even after their own lawyers told them they could not
legally do so. With the threats to Tolowa Dunes and to the entire State
Parks system from a lack of staffing and resources, it's appalling that
Director Coleman continues to focus not on her department's mission,
but on opening up a really important State Park to a small group of
Scott Greacen of EPIC said, "A General Plan for Tolowa Dunes
is long overdue, but even as Director Coleman announced the new process,
she emphasized that 'she wants to make the resumption of hunting one of
the considerations.' Earth to Ruth Coleman: hunting is not a legal use
of State Parks, period, end of story."
The groups vowed to continue to fight for full protection of
the State Park, its sensitive wildlife and the cultural heritage of the
Tolowa people. "It's clear from State Park's own materials that
significant portions of Tolowa Dunes State Park merit, indeed require,
protection as both a natural and cultural preserve," said EPIC's
Greacen. "State Parks has failed so far to protect these resources from
trespassing off-road vehicles and other inappropriate uses."
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