Dear Friends of Schooners
The last year has been hard for many of us. Fires, floods, hurricanes, and mudslides. Record breaking weather events. People loosing their homes. Social and economic changes. We feel it deeply here in Albion.
This echoes the accelerating destruction of wild places. Loss of habitat, loss of the dense dark green patches on Google Maps. Fewer fish, trees, birds, and bugs. This year brought a huge die off of Abalone and complete closure of the 2018 Abalone season. Possibly forever. My mask was fogged with tears, swimming over the desolate urchin barrens that had been Kelp forests.
Being the steward of the park puts me in the difficult position of needing to make choices. Do we provide temporary refuge to as many humans as possible, or try to preserve habitat, seed bank, a nursery for the wild things? I feel the limits of my resources, my time, my body, my limited years remaining on the planet. Back in the spring of 2015 when the river first called to me, I made my vow to the wild things here. To the wild creatures, including the untamed, passionate parts of ourselves.
The first 3 years on the river have been about cleanup and repair. We have had amazing allies with awesome skills in these efforts, including so many of you. We’ve done trash cleanup in the river. Cleared abandoned boats and RVs, huge amounts of crumbling styrofoam dock material, squatter cabins, and floating camper trash. Old tires. Removal of invasive vegetation, including the eucalyptus grove threatening the Gate House with falling branches and fire. Digging out acres of pampas grass. All our infrastructure has been overhauled, simplified, and is now functional. Long term residence is being limited to only people working for the park. The eel grass, herons and harbor seals are happy. Thank you, thank you to all who have helped.
Nature has also been busy. There has been deterioration of the plastic seawall. A bunch of our mature firs have fallen in the storms, changing the landscape. The county road above the campground is threatening to wash out. Salmon and Abalone are in terrible trouble. We have planted 450 redwoods to restore what has been lost. We have blocked off the river bank with eucalyptus logs, a first step in converting parking lot to river habitat and play area. Transplanted vast quantities of native plants to hold the riverbank. Applied for grants to replace the plastic seawall with fish and habitat friendly materials.
I have given everything I have to this place- body, time, spirit and money. I am tired. I have shoulder injuries that are not healing. My heart has been broken by the drowning death of my close friend. Several years ago I chose to dedicate myself to the river and would do it again without hesitation. My vision is that people need deep contact with the wild world, just like we need love, safety, and vitamins. That is why I want to keep the campground open. Especially for the children…
We are moving to a Membership based model for 2018. Visitors will be limited to people who can independently look after themselves and the campground, and are dedicated to our restoration efforts. People who are committed to working together to protect the wild places. Schooners is a place to recharge, connect with the majesty of the wild world, and then return home refreshed to make a difference every day. Each of us is called to do our part.
We are requesting more help in the park. This can a financial contribution, or a contribution of your skills and resources. We will be having more environmental projects and Citizen Science based here. I am excited to be partnering with the Noyo Center for Marine Science, and their Help the Kelp program. There will be more kids visiting and getting muddy while they learn.
There will no longer be trash pickup in the park. Visitors will need to take it home, or sort for recycling and place it in the dumpsters themselves. Please use this as an opportunity to reflect on how much trash we each produce, and where it goes. Plastic is forever… and so much of it ends up in the Pacific Ocean.
I expect traffic this year will be much less than previous years. That is as it should be. No promises for next year. If this season isn’t healing, self-sustaining and joyous, the park will be closed to the public in 2019.
If you are interested in being a part of the new park vision please visit the Members Page on our website.
We can do this together!
Party Alert! If you are in town, please join us in the park April 1, for a big party. It will be an April Fools Celebration and Memorial to my lost friend, and to the Abalone Season that isn't happening. Bring food, music, kids and kayaks. Park will be open 2PM till dark with a bonfire. Sing to the River. Call back the Kelp. I will post details soon on the Schooners Website