The Coastal Post - January, 1998

There Is Hope For The Bolinas Lagoon Restoration Project

BY JOSH CHURCHMAN

The lagoon that separates Bolinas from Stinson Beach is a dying lagoon. Less than 100 years ago, small ships could come and go through a channel that now only allows tiny boats to pass. In another 50 years, if left without help, this lagoon will close off from the sea and gradually turn into meadow, or a bog, and this would indeed be an incredible tragedy.

The Bolinas Lagoon was a stable and deep lagoon before man came on the scene. We altered the watersheds, logged the hills and in a very short time changed the fate of this lagoon forever.

There has been a huge effort on the part of many people to save the lagoon from closing off to the sea. And now it seems there is some real hope that the Army Corps of Engineers will be funded not only to study the lagoon, but actually remove some of the mud that is choking the lagoon to death.

First, there must be another study, among a long line of studies on this lagoon. There are a number of agencies that all must be satisfied, there is a mountain of paperwork that must be filled, and close to two million dollars will be spent before one grain of sand or mud can be touched, but there is hope that all things will fall into place and the lagoon will get help in a few years.

For any of you who have concerns about this project, I hope you will consider two things before you voice them. The first is that if this restoration project dies from too much public concern, there will be little chance of forming another one. And secondly, I can promise there will be so many concerned and knowledgeable people working on this project that if anything, too little will be done too late rather than too much too quickly.

There are very few lagoons in California that haven't been filled or dredged, and Bolinas Lagoon is just another one of the many that need restoration. We are lucky to have Congressional interest in our small and delicate area.

First, there was a reconnaissance study done to determine if there was actually a problem, and if there was local support. This phase is nearly complete, and out of it has come the beginnings of phase two, called the Feasibility Study. This is where the various options will be considered, modeling will be done, and all the environmental impact issues will be discussed at great length. There will be public meetings. And the county of Marin has to promise to pay for half of this phase.

The Feasibility Study may take several years to complete. And if at the end of that time there is still an open lagoon, and if there is still money and interest to continue into Phase Three where the implementation can finally begin, we might actually see the restoration of Bolinas Lagoon. I hope it happens.

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