North Coast Chapter - CNPS

Opposition to Humboldt ATV and

Buggy Association’s Petition

By: Annie L. Eicher,

NOC CNPS - Conservation Coordinator

March 4, 1999

Humboldt County Supervisors

825 Fifth Street

Eureka, CA 95501

RE: Opposition to Humboldt ATV and Buggy Association’s Petition

I am writing on behalf of the North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society to urge you to deny the Humboldt ATV and Buggy Association’s request for a change in the Humboldt County Beach and Dunes Management Plan.

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is a nonprofit organization of over 10,000 amateurs and professionals dedicated to the preservation of California's diverse flora. CNPS conducts a variety of educational programs and conservation efforts all focused on long-term protection and preservation of native flora in its natural habitat. The North Coast Chapter represents over 250 members in Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity and western Siskiyou Counties.

We support the Humboldt County Beach and Dunes Management Plan, the culmination of a four-year planning process involving hundreds of people (including Buggy Association members who served on the Beach and Dunes Advisory Committee) and hearings before the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors and Coastal Commission. The Beach and Dunes Management Plan designated specific areas on the North Spit where ATV use of dunes is permissible. These include a Manila parcel owned by the Buggy Association and the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area. The Plan further called for the restriction of recreational ATV use in other dune areas of the North Spit, recognizing that such restriction is necessary to protect unique, sensitive ecological resources.

The Beach and Dunes Management Plan was adopted by the County prior to the 1994 purchase by the Buggy Association of the 150-acre parcel for which they now seek permission to ride ATVs. The members of the Buggy Association were well aware at the time of their purchase that the Plan called for the prohibition of recreational ATV use of this parcel. There is no basis or justification for considering the current petition to amend the Plan. Designated dune areas are available on the North Spit for recreational ATV use; the reasons for prohibiting ATV use in other areas are sound; and, furthermore, the decision to restrict ATV use to specified areas was based on a lengthy, democratic process. To yield to the special interests of a particular group at this point would set a dangerous precedent.

The system of sand dunes occurring on the North Spit of Humboldt Bay and extending north to the mouth of the Mad River is recognized as the most complex and least disturbed dune ecosystem on the northwest coast of North America. The parcel in question contains habitat for three sensitive plant species: Humboldt Bay wallflower (Erysimum menziesii ssp. eurekense), beach layia (Layia carnosa) and pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellata ssp. breviflora). ATV use is destructive to critical habitat required by these sensitive species (as well as many other plants that are not listed as rare).

Humboldt Bay wallflower has a federal and state status of "endangered" and it is on List 1B of the California Native Plant Society as endangered throughout its range. The Humboldt Bay wallflower is endemic to sand dunes in the Humboldt Bay area.

Beach layia has a federal and state status of "endangered" and it is on List 1B of the California Native Plant Society as endangered throughout its range. Beach layia is a tiny, inconspicuous annual that occurs in coastal sand dunes in widely scattered locations from Humboldt County to Point Conception. The Humboldt Bay population represents one of the largest remaining populations of beach layia.

Pink sand verbena is a candidate for federal listing and has no state status. Pink sand verbena occurs in coastal dunes and coastal strand from Sonoma County, California, to Oregon. It is on List 1B of the California Native Plant Society as endangered in a portion of its range. Pink sand verbena is present in low numbers at scattered locations on the North Spit.

ATV use of the Buggy Association’s 150-acre parcel is incompatible with surrounding land use. It is located between two parcels managed for resource protection: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lanphere Dunes to the north and the Bureau of Land Management’s Manila Dunes (an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern") to the south. Habitat fragmentation has a negative impact on biotic resources and can exacerbate the threat to sensitive species.

ATV riders caught illegally riding in restricted areas (including the Buggy Association’s 150-acre parcel) should be held accountable for their actions. We ask that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors make a strong response to the Buggy Association’s petition—not by granting their request for special treatment, but by letting them know that current County ordinances regulating ATV use on the North Spit will be upheld and enforced, and that everyone is expected to comply.

Sincerely,

 Annie L. Eicher, Conservation Coordinator

cc:

Terry Farmer, District Attorney

Nancy Cave, California Coastal Commission Enforcement Officer

 

Oral Presentation:

I am here on behalf of the North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Our Chapter has over 250 members. Many of us enjoy walking on dunes of the North Spit where public access is permitted. We appreciate the beauty of this special area and want to see it protected. We understand and accept limitations on access to areas currently managed for the protection of sensitive resources such as rare plants.

Today, we would like to urge you to deny the Humboldt ATV and Buggy Association’s request for a change in the Humboldt County Beach and Dunes Management Plan. There is no basis or justification for this request. Prohibition of ATV use in this area is necessary to adequately protect sensitive ecological resources. Other designated dune areas are available on the North Spit for recreational ATV use. Furthermore, the decision to restrict ATV use to specified areas was based on a lengthy, democratic process. To yield to the special interests of a particular group at this point would set a dangerous precedent.

The system of sand dunes occurring on the North Spit of Humboldt Bay and extending north to the mouth of the Mad River is recognized as the most complex and least disturbed dune ecosystem on the northwest coast of North America. The parcel in question contains habitat for three sensitive plant species: Humboldt Bay wallflower, beach layia, and pink sand verbena. Humboldt Bay sand dunes support the only known populations of the endangered Humboldt Bay wallflower and the largest remaining population of the endangered beach layia. ATV use is destructive to critical habitat required by these sensitive species.

ATV use of the Buggy Association’s 150-acre parcel is incompatible with surrounding land use. The property is located between two parcels managed for resource protection: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lanphere Dunes to the north and the Bureau of Land Management’s Manila Dunes (an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern") to the south. Habitat fragmentation has a negative impact on biotic resources and can exacerbate the threat to sensitive species.

ATV riders caught illegally riding in restricted areas (including the Buggy Association’s 150-acre parcel) should be held accountable for their actions. We ask that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors make a strong response to the Buggy Association’s petition—not by granting their request for special treatment, but by letting them know that current County ordinances regulating ATV use on the North Spit will be upheld and enforced, and that everyone is expected to comply.

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California Native Plant Society - North Coast Chapter
P.O. Box 1067 Arcata, CA 95518-1067
Last updated March 1999