Carrington coast

Photo courtesy Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District

At the end of 2020, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) announced that it transferred ownership of Carrington Coast Ranch over to Sonoma County Regional Parks, cementing its future as a public regional park and open space.

Ag + Open Space has owned the ranch since 2003 and initially planned to transfer it to California State Parks. However, after California State Parks was unable to accept the title to the property because of budgetary constraints, the open space district began working with Sonoma County Regional Parks.

“This project has been a long time in the making, so it is extraordinary to see the vision become reality and soon our community will be able to enjoy the rolling grasslands and beautiful vistas that make this property such a gem,” said Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor and Ag + Open Space Director Lynda Hopkins in a statement. “The conservation of our working and natural lands, including this new park and preserve, provides so many benefits to Sonoma County’s diverse communities. These include addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation, offering a place for all people to enjoy nature and showcasing stunning scenic landscapes that define our region.”

Carrington is just north of Bodega Bay and is bordered by Sonoma Coast State Park and Salmon Creek. According to a press release from Ag + Open Space, the property contains a homestead dated from before 1860. The area is primarily made up of grassland and houses multiple special species such as the Townsend big-eared bat, California red-legged frog and American badger, according to Ag + Open Space. The ranch also has numerous habitats, like coastal prairie land, coastal scrub and both freshwater and saltwater wetlands.

“Ag + Open Space sought to conserve this magnificent property because of its amazing natural resources, significant wildlife habitat, beautiful scenic vistas and the potential for it to become a place for the public to explore,” said Caryl Hart, interim General Manager for Ag + Open Space. “As we know, the physical and mental health benefits of nature and the outdoors are needed now more than ever, and with sea levels expected to rise as a result of climate change, it is important that this land remains as open space.”

Looking into the future, the park and open space preserve will house part of the 1,200-mile California Coastal Trail, which will make a route for hikers, cyclists and more to explore the area between Marshall Gulch and Salmon Creek. Before the area opens up to the public, Sonoma County Regional Parks has to complete a master plan that outlines the development of trails, uses and stewardship of the area’s natural resources.

“Full of local history and ecological significance, this striking property, with its sweeping views from Jenner to Salmon Creek, Bodega Dunes and Bodega Head showcases the southern Sonoma Coast. The gentle coastal terrace will offer accessible trails and diverse nature experiences for residents and visitors,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “We look forward to working with the community and our partners to steward the land and provide new opportunities for people to discover the magic of our coast.”

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