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Beach Grouse 

Proposed $8 beach fees debated at community meetings

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A day at the beach this summer could get expensive if a recent State Parks proposal goes into effect. In a move reeking of a thwarted 1992 effort to install pay kiosks on the Sonoma Coast, a plan to place self-pay "Iron Rangers" along the Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino Coast is raising ire among coastal residents and beach lovers. The proposed fee is $8

According to the free-access advocacy group Free Our Beaches, the fee-collection devices would be installed along "almost all state access points that are currently free." On the Sonoma Coast, the list of affected beaches includes such familiar locations as Salmon Creek, Goat Rock, Russian Gulch, Schoolhouse Beach, Bodega Head, Stump Beach and Shell Beach, among others.

"People on the coast go to these spots to enjoy the sunset," says Bev Burton, a founding member of Free Our Beaches. "They want to charge us for something that always has been and always should be free. How are poorer people going to access the coast?"

In a twist that seems more of a cruel joke than truth, department spokesman Roy Stearns told the Press Democrat that State Parks wouldn't be convening any public meetings on the proposed fees because they can't afford it. But citizen's groups are taking matters into their own hands, starting with a public meeting hosted by Free Our Beaches with former supervisor and current Fifth District candidate Ernie Carpenter. The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 25, at the Bodega Bay Fire Station. 510 S. Hwy 1, Bodega Bay. 6:30pm. 707.875.2328. In addition, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods are hosting two public meetings at the Bodega Bay Grange (June 6, 6pm) and the Monte Rio Community Center (June 11, 6pm).

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