Pacific Coast Recreation Area Survey
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Although the Pacific Coast has many remaining undeveloped seashore areas, there are relatively few which still are in the pure wilderness or primitive state, where man has not altered the general landscape to varying degree with roads, grazing, timber harvest, or other man-inflicted modifications. Broad-scale planning should provide for all possible consideration and protection of these rare and invaluable seashore areas. Further, the intense competition for use of the seashore in general makes it imperative that such planning recognize as a major consideration the recreation, scientific and aesthetic values connected with the natural resources of the Pacific Coast, thus insuring optimum benefit and enjoyment to present and future generations.

On the basis of the facts revealed by the Survey, the following specific recommendations are made:

1. The Channel Islands collectively constitute the greatest single remaining opportunity for the conservation and preservation of representative seashore values, including biology, geology, history, archeology, paleontology, wilderness and recreation. Careful consideration should be given to any future opportunity to acquire or preserve for public purposes any or all of the Channel Islands group.

2. A large segment of the Pacific Coast with high recreation and biologic values is presently under military jurisdiction. Consistent with military needs, the agencies responsible for the administration of these lands should respect and preserve as much as possible of the inherent values involved, until such time that the lands may become surplus to military requirements. If natural or other recreation qualities then warrant, the lands should be retained in public ownership at the appropriate level of government.

3. The acquisition of areas should be related directly to the distribution of population except where biological, aesthetic or other values supersede.

4. A relatively large number of small seashore areas were not included in the survey because of their size. Many of these small areas are incorporated in city and county master plans. Collectively, they would constitute an important recreation outlet serving local population groups. There is a definite need for local authorities, whether city, county or regional, to take the initiative in acquiring and administering seashore recreation areas of local significance.

5. Adequate long-range planning should include the acquisition of adjacent or upland portions of desirable stretches of seashore. In many cases, these upland areas are not only integral components of the seashore environment, but they would also afford additional opportunities for parking and overnight facilities, which are so lacking in many sections of the Pacific Coast.

Oil — a necessity in modern living — takes a share of the Pacific seashore. With adequate setbacks, more of the seashore could be used for recreation.

6. Boating is a form of recreation normally associated with the seashore and has a direct influence upon it, however, it was not within the scope of this broad survey to make studies of this form of activity. There is, nevertheless, a definite need for many more small craft harbors along the Pacific Coast and it is important to the welfare of the public that this need be considered. However, it is essential that the planning agencies concerned give proper weight to the aesthetic, scientific and other natural values to be altered or lost from the location and construction of these harbors.

7. Some local governments are successfully concluding agreements and enacting legislation to keep certain industrial developments off the immediate shoreline and beaches. Prime examples are setbacks of power plants near the shoreline, and of oil wells by use of slant drilling for tideland petroleum. Thus, additional seashore is left available for recreation without undue sacrifice to industries. More of this type of cooperation should be encouraged.

8. Serious consideration should be given to adding suitable portions of outstanding marine biotic communities to adjacent existing public parks and administering them as marine preserves. Other areas rich in marine life, although not adjacent to existing public parks, should also be preserved and protected from exploitation. These preserves would serve as sanctuaries for rare and vanishing marine plants and animals, as areas for replenishment, and would provide varied recreation and education opportunities consistent with objectives of the preserves.

9. Careful consideration should be given to the preservation of marine gardens or underwater parks. As a suggestion, a team of experts could be selected representing those persons best informed in the fields of marine biology, underwater recreation and oceanography. They, in turn, could then select the finest and most suitable of these underwater parks where the taking, damaging or destroying any of the marine plants and animals would be prohibited.

10. Research, both basic and applied, is urgently needed to establish the full biological significance of the mudflat and salt marsh habitats; increased efforts should be made to facilitate this research. In the meantime, the remaining salt marshes and mudflats most valuable to waterfowl and associated plant and animal life should be given immediate protection necessary to insure permanent preservation of the natural values.

11. Virtually all Pacific Coast tidelands are under state ownership, but many of those along the general coastline as defined by the Survey are only administratively protected. Many fine tidelands can be sold to private individuals or corporations, as has been done in several instances. Legislation should be enacted to insure the permanent preservation and protection of these increasingly important areas for public benefit.

12. California Highway 1 from Carmel south to San Simeon follows some of the most spectacular and highly scenic shoreline to be found along the entire California coast. Magnificent, sweeping vistas greet the traveler at nearly every turn along this 95-mile stretch of coastal highway. The entire section warrants preservation of its outstanding aesthetic qualities. If this proves impractical it is strongly recommended that, as a minimum, a 25-mile unbroken segment be protected from already-encroaching development through zoning or outright acquisition of the lands involved.

13. One of the most pressing problems associated with the waters of the Pacific seashore is the abatement of pollution. The importance of the biologic and recreation aspects of the coastal waters, both fresh and salt, makes it mandatory that sewage and industrial waste disposal be further controlled and restricted to adequately protect and conserve such values. The future of sport fishing, coastal and aquatic recreation, coastal waterfowl abundances and commercial fishing may well depend upon prompt action being taken on this particular problem. Stricter legislation and improved enforcement regulating and restricting pollution are needed now.

14. Although most of the many offshore rocks and small islands which are found throughout the length of the Pacific shoreline are too small to afford much recreation opportunity in themselves, they nevertheless contribute importantly to the overall scenic and biologic aspects of the coast. A number of them, which support lighthouses and similar coastal installations, are being or will be declared surplus to these needs. Wherever possible, these offshore rocks and islands should be retained in public ownership so as to preserve this significant natural resource.

Along California State Highway 1, south of Monterey, the seashore becomes bold, steep, and rugged as illustrated by this photograph taken near Partington Point.

15. Highways and other coastal roads now closely parallel nearly 90 percent of the Pacific shoreline. This situation often presents a difficult problem in the selection of areas of sufficient size to encompass, in integral units, the scenic, scientific and recreation values that are concerned. As much of the seashore as possible should be preserved in its present undeveloped state, and there should be no further invasion of coastal wilderness by highways except for incidental access and appropriate minimum development.

16. South of Cape Mendocino in northern California is an unusually long section of coast that is relatively wild, rugged and inaccessible. The State recently acquired from the Federal Government several thousand acres within this section, primarily for game management purposes. The area, however, has only a limited amount of shoreline and consists of many scattered parcels of land. Further acquisition of intervening parcels, along with additional adjacent seashore, would create along this section of the coast an extensive seashore area having many characteristics of a wilderness.

17. Over 1,000 miles of shoreline in coastal bays and sounds did not fall within the scope of this survey. They are, however, directly related to seashore recreation problems. Prime examples are San Francisco Bay in California and Puget Sound in Washington. Because of the close correlation in problems of land use and development, it is essential that planning in such areas be coordinated closely with that along the ocean shoreline itself.

Pollution is a pressing problem to the recreation and biologic aspects on the Pacific Coast. —California Department of Public Health Photo

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Last Updated: 25-Jun-2007