Presentation to the Legislative Caravan
2 April 1999 : Caspar Beach
is a thriving rural village of about 1,000 residents located one mile north of Point Cabrillo on the Mendocino coast.
From 1870 until 1955 Caspar was the "company town" of the Caspar Lumber Company, a major innovator in lumber technology and principal supplier of redwood lumber to the San Francisco Bay area during its halcyon years from 1906 until 1929. According to the Mendocino County historian Bruce Levene, "Caspar is more important to California's timber industry than Sutter's well-known mill at Coloma."
Since 1955, Caspar has kept its innovative spirit alive while becoming a safe haven for activists, retirees, consultants, commuters, musicians, artists, and others who love the interplay of ocean and forest, nature and commerce, history and the future.
Although the Caspar Lumber Company is defunct, it still defines the village, because 80% of the open space in the heart of town is still in the hands of a successor Company(1).
And now that land is for sale. Caspar's residents understand that the peace and beauty of their village may change forever.
In 1997, with the sale of the Company's land imminent, the community began organizing to preserve and protect the quality of all life in Caspar. Much has already been accomplished. The Caspar Community has
- worked with the Company's representative to forestall any adverse sale
- raised more than $40,000 in less than 12 months, and hired a full-time coordinator
- commissioned and participated in a preliminary development plan executed by Prof. Randolph Hester of UC Berkeley
- appealed to county and state officials for planning support
- secured non-profit corporate status as the Caspar Community
- enlisted the help of the Trust for Public Land to help us explore ways of controlling, preserving, and restoring the heart of this town
Caspar Is a State of Mind
...and in this state of mind are many dreams and hopes. With our accomplishments as a foundation, the Caspar Community has set itself a great many goals:
- To carry on more than 100 years of unified stewardship in a very public place
- To preserve the headlands, the pond and flyway, and the water source, areas so special to residents that they have been called "sacred places".
- To promote a livable village while preserving open space and access to nature.
- To plan our future as part of the rich natural coastal context of an area that includes Jughandle State Reserve, Caspar Beach, Point Cabrillo, and Russian Gulch state Park.
- Develop safe and ecologically sensible coastal trails and bicycle paths.
- Preserve access to the coast, the headlands, and the beach for tourists and residents alike.
- Restore and protect important habitat for the original residents of our land: the coho salmon, burrowing owl, osprey, red fox, to name a few.
- Build a community where our children can grow up, remain, and thrive.
- Devise a plan for the stewardship of Caspar's "commons" that will sustain it for at least another hundred years.
A few months ago a tourist from Iowa stood on the Caspar headlands and said, "Don't forget, this is MY coast, too." The Caspar Community recognizes that fact above all. This is our village, but the treasure of the California coast is a gift for everyone.
* THANK YOU for the $1.8 million to preserve the southern parcels!
All Caspar, and all admirers of forest and ocean, benefit from the work of Legislators, the Governor, the Coastal Conservancy, and the Mendocino Land Trust to secure the southern tracts of the Company's lands, and are grateful.
The Next Great Caspar Opportunity
- Serve a constituency of lifetime and long-term residents and Caspar loyalists scattered all over the US and the world
- Honor the inclusive consensus developed by our community about "sacred places" -- the headlands, the pond, the water source – and the shared imperative to plan for a sustainable village for the next hundred years
- The region's wildlife depends on the riparian corridor connecting Jackson State Forest with Caspar's ocean and headlands
- The opportunity to refine development strategies which will serve us all well for the next one hundred years
- What steps should be taken to restore damaged land and habitat, preserve livability, context, and open space -- important qualities which we all agree would not survive fragmentation of stewardship or build-out as provided for in the County's existing but out-of-date Local Coastal Plan?
- What do Caspar's resident's need to make their community self-sufficient and sustainable?
- What must the community do to help its grown children decide to stay home and thrive?
- What services and benefits does the greater coastal community need from Caspar?
- How does a tiny rural village relate to the much broader national concern for livability and the restoration of a natural basis for human activity?
written by Michael Potts for presentation to the Legislative Caravan
high resolution images are available