By Spencer Soper
The Press Democrat

May 12, 2004
Column: Around the Empire

Plans to add 3,373 acres of historic timberlands to Sonoma Coast State Beach took a big step forward Tuesday when the county Board of Supervisors voted to commit $10 million toward the $20.6 million purchase price.

The proposal is a partnership between the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and several state agencies, which would pay the remaining $10.6 million to buy the land from Calpella-based Mendocino Redwoods Co.

If the deal closes as planned in November, it would be the most expensive acquisition in the 14-year history of the open space district and the largest property it ever purchased for a park. It would bring the overall size of Sonoma Coast beach -- the third most popular destination in the state park system -- to more than 8,000 acres.

The agreement also would prevent logging on 515 acres next to the proposed park, though that land would remain in private ownership.

The proposed park addition includes two creeks important to Coho salmon and steelhead, and it is considered essential habitat for a variety of imperiled animals.