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!