Save The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve


By on Sun, August 15, 2010

Although I am a newly appointed member of the Midcoast Community Council (MCC), the following comments are my own and are not meant to represent the MCC’s official position.

In most of the MCC meetings so far, discussions have concentrated on the Dardenelle Trail but not on the "ramp" which goes from the corner of North Lake and Nevada Sts down to the tide pools. It is at the NW corner of the Ranger Station’s parking lot. I want the people of the coastside to know of the planned changes to the entrance of the reserve that will ruin the natural setting that is there now.

Today, it is fairly rustic. A dirt path sloping down to the shoreline where there is a bench facing the sea. Along the way there are a couple of informational signs talking about the tide pool and the reserve along with a bike rack and a trash container.

On the north-side of the ramp is a fence marking the private property next door but as you walk down the ramp the decrease in elevation gives rise to a small plot of land that slopes up to the neighbor’s fence. As you proceed down there is a short single rail fence to keep people on the ramp and prevent them from working on the hill killing plants and causing erosion.

On the south side of the ramp, there is an information kiosk and a small triangular patch of land which slopes down to the creek where there is a rustic, two-rail fence to prevent people from falling down the creek slope. When my children were young (3-5 years old) they would run along the path completing the two legs of the triangle while my wife and I walk the ramp (the third leg of the triangle). I say that because even today when I see families there, I still see young children doing the same thing and I believe it is where some may get their life long love for enjoying nature. It is also one of the main reasons I moved to Moss Beach over 25 years ago.

Anyway, my point is, while some of the fencing and signs and bike racks and trash containers are not natural they are necessary to keep visitors informed, act as teaching guides and limit debris from being spewed around the park. They are also fairly unobtrusive because they are done to scale and to some degree the materials and colors are meant to blend in. It is not perfect but it a concession that was made to balance preserving the reserve and allowing public use.

Now if you go to the MCC home page and click the links for Negative Declaration and Beach Access Ramp - 60% Plans you will find details on the proposed “upgrades” which will completely change the characteristics of the entrance to the FMR. There will be a quarter mile long 10.5 ft wide asphalt covered “path” with 3 ft shoulders where the dirt path is today.

In RAMP Plans on page 5, Item 1 ADA Path Wall Detail they are talking about a concrete wall on the north side of the path running for 19.5 ft length of the ramp starting with a 2 ft high scaling to a 6ft high at the shore line end. There will be an aluminum handrail running the length of the wall for ADA. What will this do the natural environment that surrounds the tide pools today?

Then there are the stairs. Today, to get from the lower end of the ramp onto the beach below there is a 10 ft to 15 ft drop to the beach which is negotiated with some make shift wood stairs and rocks. Not the easiest access and definitely could use some improvement. But from what I can tell in the drawings on pages 3 and 5 they are building a monstrous asphalt covered concrete reinforced overlook 35 ft by 40 ft with a couple of telescopes, piles of rocks that form maybe a 20’ semicircle around the overlook platform with a 6 ft wide staircase about 10 - 15 ft long to a path 6 ft wide right angled to the stairs running maybe 20 -25 ft and then another set of stairs 7ft 4 in wide running 5 -10 ft to the sand. There is a provision for a 20 ft seasonal bridge at the bottom. These dimensions are approximations because the published document lacks details and the site was never mark out for a public review.

There is a second asphalt covered concrete reinforced overlook on the south side halfway up the ramp will be 30 ft by 20 ft. where the triangular patch of wild flowers I mentioned early. I am not sure why the lookout is even placed there or why we need two in that small space.

So my question to all is what exactly is “a marine reserve”? Is it there to protect a special unique environment for people to see or is it a built up park that looks like so many others in less sensitive areas? I urge you to sign the petition to Save the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve here: