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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2007



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County Attempts To Hold Up Certification Of Wetland EIR
By Jeanette M. Pontacq

A last minute attempt to seriously defer the restoration of Tomales Bay Wetland played out last week at the State Lands Commission in Sacramento. The SLC was slated to certify the final EIR for the restoration of the Wetland in a public hearing on June 28th when, at 6:01pm, a fax arrived from the County of Marin, signed by Sharon McNamee (Director of Marin Parks/Open Space) and Farhad Mansourian, Director, Public Works Dept., addressed to John Garamendi, Chairman of the State Lands Commission. The letter asked that the state defer certification of the restoration of the EIR on the basis of what the County considered an inconsistency between the Park's choice of Alternative D (not including a bridge and path) and the yet-unstated County of Marin position. Fortunately, the State Lands Commission staff concluded that the county demand had no merit and thus proceeded to certify the validity of the EIR for the restoration of Tomales Bay Wetland. Oddly, the Park has not foreclosed the idea of a bridge and path in the future, but not as part of the monies allocated for the restoration itself.
Had the County's demand been accepted, 1.6 million dollars of grant money for the restoration could have been put at risk and the restoration seriously delayed or reduced. Why? And who was really behind the attempt?

The County had previously commented via letters on this subject, but those comments now seem inconsistent with this latest attempt to hold up the imminent restoration. It seems that the County powers-that-be, via county agencies, are interested in insuring that a more-than-6' wide, impervious path, including a million dollar bridge to cross Papermill Creek, be constructed from the Green Bridge area to Inverness Park via federal land within the Wetland, paid for via donated and federal funds within the restoration package. Of course, the Park has stated many times that it does not have the funds for the bridge and related paths, which would require a separate planning and funding effort. On its part, the County has ignored continued suggestions for public meetings and discussion on the issue to date. Estimates are that the talked-about path and bridge, as envisioned previously by the County, would require at least 5 acres of pavement taken up within the Wetlands.

Why the County was willing to risk public outrage by delaying or stopping the restoration over such a small and already addressed issue has confounded many. The majority of locals, who voted for Option D (which puts the full restoration before any possible bridge or path), will surely investigate the details of this odd occurrence over the next month. Expect a CP analysis next month on all findings, no holds barred.











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