Don't worry! The big sign that is missing from the entrance of Hendy Woods has been sent out for restoration. A couple of years ago we discovered that the yellow painted lettering of the park entrance sign was all paint and no wood. The wood had rotted away under the paint! The sign is now at the woodworking shop at Chamberlain Creek Conservation Camp at Jackson Demonstration State Forest near Ft. Bragg. Chamberlain Creek has a great track record of excellent woodworking so we are confident the sign will come back to us in good shape. No redesign is planned. The iconic "Gumby" shape will remain.
Contracts have been awarded and work has begun to replace the 1960s era water distribution pipes and water storage tank at Hendy Woods State Park. If you’ve ever turned on the spigot at a Hendy Woods campsite you will probably remember the disconcerting result: super rusty water. Is this water drinkable? The answer is yes, it’s fine, sort of. It’s regularly tested and chlorinated to drinking water standards. But it sure doesn’t taste or look great. Unlike so many places in Anderson Valley, the rust problem is not due to an iron water well. Rather, the aged rusting water pipes take clean, clear water and add a ton of iron. Even worse, the pipes spring leaks huge and small on a near weekly basis and the pipes are so fragile it can be an issue to locate a section firm enough to bridge onto. At one point a couple of years ago the water system was leaking 20,000 gallons a week of chlorinated water! Replacement of the pipes has been a priority for Hendy Woods Community and for the Mendocino Coast Sector of the Parks Department.
At the 50th Anniversary celebration for the park in 2013, Hendy Woods Community and Save the Redwoods League each donated $40,000 for the water line project, which was matched by money the Legislature had set aside after it was “found” during the 2012 State Parks Department budget scandal. But preliminary engineering showed this would not be enough to complete the project, so the Department identified other money for the water project and the donor money and match was redirected for the recently completed renovation of the Day Use area. We had a Department commitment to start construction on the water project in 2015 and the preliminary work of planning, engineering, permitting and environmental work moved forward.
Evan as the Day Use Area project proceeded in a collegial and positive manner, we began to be aware that the funding for the construction phase of the water project had not actually been secured. After a lot of back and forth, it became clear that a 2015 start date for construction was no longer in the cards. Considering how severe the leak problem was, requiring continuous attention and threatening the ability to keep the campground open, HWC took our concerns to long time District Assembly staffer Ruth Valenzuela. Since the 2011 announcement that the Department intended to close Hendy Woods, she had regularly been participating in meetings with HWC, Save the Redwoods League, and the Parks Department in the effort to keep Hendy Woods open. Valenzuela, now working for Assembly Member Jim Wood, invited State Senator Mike McGuire’s new staffer Kerrie Lindecker to accompany her on a field trip to the park to review the Day Use project and consider options for the water system. That visit resulted in a joint letter from Assembly Member Wood and Senator McGuire to then-acting Parks Department Director Lisa Mangat. Wood also followed up with an in-person discussion with the Director. The result was a July 10 letter from Manat, who, no longer “interim” is now the Director of the Department, assuring Wood and McGuire that the water project would proceed as originally planned. After competitive bidding, the contract was awarded to Ft. Bragg Plumbing and Electric. Construction has begun. There will, of course, be some disruption, but the work will be conducted in blocks leaving plenty of room for enjoyment.
This little saga demonstrates yet again how important it is for Anderson Valley to stay engaged with Hendy Woods, our only large public open space. HWC is pleased that many people are taking advantage of the Second Sunday free entry for locals program, where HWC picks up the Day Use entry fee for people from Yorkville, Boonville, Philo, Navarro, Comptche, and Elk on the Second Sunday of every month in 2015.
Consider getting involved! Our wonderful volunteers staff the Visitor Center, conduct interpretive walks, help control invasive plants, keep our website running, donate money, and much more. We would be happy to hear from you at 707-895-3746 or through this website on the Contact page. Whatever else you do, come visit your park with its beautiful old growth redwood groves, campgrounds, new picnic facilities, miles of trails, and access to the Navarro River. Time spent at the park is time enjoyed!
More than 150 people enjoyed food, entertainment, and the new facilities at the Hendy Woods Day Use Area on June 28. A joint project of Hendy Woods Community, Save the Redwoods League, and CA State Parks, the renovated area has two new shade structures, bathrooms, pathways, drinking fountains, BBQs, and interpretive panels, all complying with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Below are a few photos of the event and the new facilities. Photos by Hendy Woods Community Board Members Miel Newstead, Linda MacElwee, and Kate Castagnola.
After being closed most of the winter, the Hendy Woods State Park Day Use Area will reopen at a special celebration on Sunday, June 28 from 1-4 PM. Day Use entry will be free for the afternoon. Everyone is welcome to celebrate with appetizers, dessert, and drinks supplied by the Hendy Woods Community. Bring your own picnic. Sarah Larkin and Friends will provide music, and new park interpreter Steve Jahelka will lead a sing along.
Funding for the renovation was provided by Hendy Woods Community, Save the Redwoods League, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Representatives from the organizations will be on hand to provide information about their programs.
Upgrades include a new bathroom, two shade structures with new BBQs and tables, new walkways and new interpretive panels, all of which have been constructed to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This continues the tradition of ADA compliant facilities at Hendy Woods begun by the Unity Club with the Gentle Giants All Access Trail. The parking area has also been reconfigured and repaved.
Expect a bit of dust until rainfall allows re-vegetation later in the year.
“This has been a very encouraging cooperative effort,” said Hendy Woods Chairperson Kathy Bailey. “Communication was good throughout the process. Parks Department staffers went out of their way to make sure we knew what was happening and kept the many pieces of the project moving forward. Working together with the knowledgeable staff of Save the Redwoods League ensured a good outcome. We’re very pleased.”
You may have noticed recently that our Day Use area is a bit topsy turvy. Not to worry, this popular part of the park is on its way to being ADA compliant with brand new bathrooms, interpretative signs, and shade structures. Be sure to bring a picnic to enjoy at the new picnic tables and take advantage of this beautiful spot.
By Kathy Bailey
Volunteers who have been key in rejuvenating Hendy Woods State Park and ensuring that the park remains open came together with their families at River’s Bend Retreat Center on a beautiful spring Sunday, April 13, for a Thank You lunch sponsored by the Hendy Woods Community. Volunteers have been active stocking and staffing the visitor center and the entrance kiosk, leading interpretive walks and campfire talks, controlling invasive weeds like fennel, creating and updating the organization’s website, identifying and tallying birds, collecting photos of plants found at the park, raising funds, keeping the organization going, interacting with Park Department leaders and Save the Redwoods League staff, and creating and constructing the new “Welcome to Anderson Valley” signs that feature Hendy Woods. And more! Much of this activity is kept in motion by Volunteer Coordinator Shelly Englert.
After enjoying a delicious lunch put together by Boont Berry Farm, Lauren’s Restaurant, Janet Anderson and Deanna Apfel, Kathy Bailey updated the group about the current status of the park and projects underway. Although many people have gotten the idea that all is again well, Bailey emphasized that the state park crisis is not over, it is just in a quiet phase. While there is no current threat to close the park, staffing throughout the Mendocino District is stretched very thin. For instance, the rangers based at Hendy Woods, Dave Rodrigues and Natasha Morris, have to cover all the way south to Manchester, or up to Van Damme and sometimes even McKerricher, depending on the shift.
The July 2012 discovery that around $35 million dollars in park funds had been “hidden” by the Department of Parks and Recreation has led many to assume that funding is no longer an issue. However, of that money, the majority had been generated for Off Highway Vehicle parks and only about $22 million was available for parks like Hendy Woods. The Legislature took this one time only “found” money and earmarked it for special parks projects. But the underlying annual $20 million funding cut that provoked the park closure crisis in 2011 has never been completely restored. This year the Governor’s budget reinstated $14 million of that deficit. Sacramento seems to be waiting for the report of the Parks Forward Commission, created in 2012, to decide how, or whether, to move forward with adequate funding for our state parks.
Good news for Hendy Woods are the infrastructure upgrades being made at the park. One provision of the scandal money the Legislature set aside provides a pool of money to match donations from non-profits. The Hendy Woods Community and Save the Redwoods League each donated $40,000 cash for Hendy Woods, which is being matched from the scandal money. Additionally, volunteer hours during 2012 were monetized and matched from the fund for an additional $23,000 for the park.
Originally, this money was to be allocated for replacing the aging water delivery system. However, the high cost of that project led to the decision to fund it from another source specifically for “deferred maintenance.” Our donations and matched money are now being used for an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant day use area upgrade, that will include a better bathroom in a new less prominent location, two shade ramadas, new signage and new paths. Planning is far advanced and work will begin after the camping season.
Major preliminary engineering, such as surveying for the location of the new water lines, is already well under way and the Hendy Woods Community has a relatively high degree of confidence that the Department will honor its commitment to replace the water lines and other needed water system repair. Because we were so good at making noise and raising money, Hendy Woods is receiving large allocations from the scandal money. These actions are very encouraging, but because the overall funding for the Parks Department is so inadequate, we will have to be vigilant and ready to step forward at a moment’s notice.
Consider volunteering! All sorts of talents can be put to good used. It’s fun, personally rewarding, and vital. Contact Shelly Englert at HendyWoodsVolunteer@gmail.com or call the Hendy Woods Community at 895-3746. Come visit the park and get inspired! A good place to start during this wildflower-rich season might be to come along on the Saturday morning interpretive walk, which begins at 10:30 from the Day Use Area. This is an easy, family friendly way to connect with our incredibly lovely park, Hendy Woods.