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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
California’s coastal BEC Great Coastal Places Campaign held a successful event in Monterey this Saturday to highlight threats to the Central Coast’s Del Monte Forest of Monterey pine trees. By our count 78 adults, 1 child and 6 dogs representing at least four different Chapters - and the far flung cities of Monterey, Santa Cruz, Fresno, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Long Beach – walked together to enjoy and learn more about the forest in which developers hope to cut down 17,000 trees for yet another golf course.

Both Coastal Director Mark Massara and Great Coastal Places volunteer leader D’Anne Albers were quoted in a lengthy article published in the Monterey County Herald – the best read of all the Central Coast newspapers. The article ran with three photos in the center of the front page of Sunday’s paper.

Sierra Club activists and our extended activist community were assembled by a cooperative multi-chapter effort coordinated by Great Coastal Places. Five different Chapter newsletters ran articles announcing the hike and explaining what is at stake, we also placed Calendar blurbs in two central coast newspapers, worked with sympathetic local organizations including Surfrider Foundation, Concerned Residents of Pebble Beach, TribalSurf and Friends of the Sea Otter to spread the word and then ensured that local Sierra Club members received a postcard, email and phone call reminding them of the hike.

All this work is part of our staged buildup to the upcoming Coastal Commission hearing on this issue. The article text is below:

Sunday, February 19, 2006
Pebble Beach: Plan would include 18-hole golf course in forest
Herald Staff Writer

Undaunted by morning showers, approximately 60 hikers showed up Saturday for a walk through Pebble Beach to protest Pebble Beach Co.'s redevelopment plan and see what will be at stake.

Led by Mark Massara of the California Sierra Club's Great Coastal Places campaign, the group of 62 stood in intermittent showers at Veterans Memorial Park early Saturday, then convoyed to the SFB Morse Gate off Holman Highway to Pebble Beach.

Drivers could say they were guests of Pebble Beach resident Janice O'Brien if they were challenged trying to enter Pebble Beach's private roads, but gate guards gave them a friendly wave-through.

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Pebble Beach Co.'s Del Monte Forest Preservation and Development Plan in March 2005, but a flurry of appeals to provisions of the plan were filed last summer with the state Coastal Commission.

The plan calls for new projects at 13 locations in the forest, including an 18-hole golf course, a golf driving range, 160 visitor suites, an equestrian center in the Sawmill Gulch area next to Holman Highway, 33 residential lots in five subdivisions and 60 employee housing units.

The company will set aside 492 acres of permanent forest and open space, relocate existing trails and build new ones, and make improvements in roads and infrastructure, including a remake of the Highway 1 gate at Holman Highway.

Some open space set-asides include property owned by the company outside Pebble Beach: 139 acres of the Old Capital Site next to Del Monte Center, and 279 acres adjacent to Jacks Peak Park.

The plan is designed around the provisions of Measure A, which was approved by a countywide vote in November 2000. Opponents contend the plan is not consistent with what voters approved.

Coastal Commission staffers and local environmentalists have expressed concern about the plan's effect on the Monterey pine forest. The proposal would eliminate about 17,000 trees.

Residents in the Del Monte Park area of Pacific Grove near Sawmill Gulch have argued that moving the equestrian center there will create problems with traffic, odor and flies.

Not everyone who took part in the walk was a Sierra Club member or came because of their affiliation with the conservation organization.

"I'm a volunteer, but I don't know if I'm a member or not," said Carmel native and marketing consultant Maria Sutherland, who moved back to the Peninsula two years ago after spending many years in the New York City area.

"I decided I had to do something to save these trees," she said. "I'm so alarmed at the number of trees that could be destroyed."

Her contribution, besides showing up on a rainy Saturday, was to design the Web site for the ongoing campaign.

Carmel travel agent Dan Presser, a former president of the Cetacean Society in Monterey, isn't a Sierra Club member, but said "I believe in the need to preserve Carmel.

"I'm very much in favor of ecology and the protection of the planet."

The event brought walkers from as far as San Jose and Fresno, said D'Anne Albers, an 11-year member of the Ventana chapter of the Sierra Club, which hosted the walk and talk. Participants, she said, were summoned by e-mails, telephone calls and word-of-mouth.

A contretemps developed between Massara and Bruce Cowan, a retired environmental landscape consultant, Sierra Club member and volunteer of the Del Monte Forest Open Space Advisory Committee.

Cowan gave leaflets to the group with an outline explaining his support for the Del Monte Forest plan, saying that it is the best way to preserve open space in the forest. He noted that the proposed golf course would be built on already built-up areas, including the existing equestrian center and a rock quarry.

The company, he said, has agreed to reduce residential zoning from a maximum of 891 houses to 38.

When he asked to address the gathering, Massara cut him off.

"You're not going to hijack this event," Massara said.

Massara said the claim that the company could built 800-plus houses "is simply untrue," contending Pebble Beach Co. has a maximum of 41 legal lots available for development.

The Monterey pine trees that would be cut down to make way for the new development, he said, are "a unique heritage of the area" and the pine forest "is already badly fragmented by more than a century of development."

The area, he said, is full of wetlands and endangered species that would be displaced by development. The project would draw more water from the Carmel River, he said, threatening the steelhead trout run, and increase polluting runoff into Stillwater Cove from the new golf course.

"It may not be 800 houses," if the Coastal Commission won't allow the company plan to go forward, Cowan said, "but it will be quite a few."

Albers said an organizational meeting has been set by the Sierra Club on Feb. 28 in preparation for a Coastal Commission meeting on the Pebble Beach Co. plan scheduled in Monterey on March 9.

Go to: for a full description of the Pebble Beach Co. proposal.
Pebble Beach redevelopment plan The Pebble Beach Co. redevelopment plan includes creation of an 18-hole golf course, 160 visitor suites, 33 residential lots in five subdivisions and an equestrian center. The company will set aside 492 acres of permanent forest and open space.

Owen Bailey
Sierra Club, Great Coastal Places
3435 Wilshire Blvd., Ste 660
Los Angeles, CA 90010
213 387 6528 ext 211
213 387 8348 fax

Visit Sierra Club's Great Coastal Places website at

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