Member Spotlight: Carrington Ranch

This story is courtesy of WRA, Inc. Above image of aerial view of Carrington Coast Ranch, photo credit: TOPO Collective. 

Approximately 335 acres of land along Highway 1 north of Bodega Bay in Sonoma County is undergoing transformation into the new Carrington Coast Ranch Park and Open Space Preserve. Together Bay Area (TBA) member Sonoma County Regional Parks (SCRP), in collaboration with TBA mission-aligned business member WRA, Inc. (WRA), is developing a Master Plan that balances public recreation with preservation of cultural heritage, and conservation and management of coastal ecosystems. SCRP and this Master Plan acknowledge that Carrington Coast Ranch is located on or near the ancestral lands of the Southwestern (Kashaya) Pomo, Coast Miwok, and Wappo, who are the original caretakers of this area.

The new Master Plan will guide the development of trails, recreational and educational uses, and stewardship of the natural resources. Design and outreach have already begun in an effort to prepare a draft Master Plan with input from experts and the public to create a park that protects the local cultural heritage and natural coastal resources while providing recreational and educational programming.

Views of the Pacific Ocean from Carrington Coast Ranch. Photo Credit: TOPO Collective

Designing with Nature

There are several environmental factors being considered as part of the development of the Carrington Coast Ranch Master Plan. With this project, WRA is pairing its technical and scientific services, such as biological resource assessments, wildlife surveys, and native plant surveys, with recreation planning expertise to establish a conservation-driven plan for the design and operation of this new public open space.

The site is in the Coastal Zone, meaning the Master Plan must include policies and programs that are responsive to the needs of this ecosystem. In addition to the Coastal Zone, there are multiple areas distributed across the site that support aquatic resources, such as wetlands and nearby Salmon Creek and associated riparian corridor, that create visual and ecological connections between the upland portions of the site and the ocean. Because Carrington Coast Ranch provides habitats for special-status species, including the Townsend big-eared bat, California red-legged frog, and American badger, the Master Plan will incorporate conservation methods to protect habitat for these species through a carefully and thoughtfully prepared Resource Management Plan, including adaptive management practices.

The Master Plan will also incorporate the use of grazing on Carrington’s grasslands to foster local agriculture, aid in wildfire fuel and wildlife habitat management, in addition to continuing historic land use practices.

Multi-Benefit Recreation

The Master Plan is focused on intentional recreation programming that will support the conservation of both biological and cultural resources. Carrington Coast Ranch will host a segment of the California Coastal trail, which will be aligned and use materials that protect wetland areas on the site. In support of the California Coastal Conservancy’s effort to provide low-cost lodging along the California coast, the feasibility of walk-in/bike-in campsites will be examined in the Master Plan. The protection of original homestead buildings and opportunities for cultural and ecological interpretation and education will guide the design of additional trails. All recreation components will also align with the vision passed along from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District when it transferred the land for Carrington Coast Ranch to SCRP. This vision identified acceptable uses as non-motorized, low-intensity recreation, education and agricultural uses, and facilities necessary for the sites management and operation.

Master Plan project team conducting a site visit to evaluate on-the-ground conditions. Photo Credit: WRA

Planning Process

Initial stakeholder and public outreach for the Master Plan occurred in 2022 and 2023. More public engagement in the conceptual site plans is coming in 2024. To stay up to date on the project, visit the project website and sign up for the Sonoma County Regional Parks newsletter. SCRP also holds park preview days which are free guided tours of Carrington Coast Ranch for the public to experience the beautiful area still in development.

The Master Planning process would not be possible without public and Tribal input, and partners including TOPO Collective, Zander Westbrook Design, Sherwood Design Engineers, Tom Origer & Associates, California Coastal Conservancy, and Sonoma County Ag + Open Space, Sonoma County Regional Parks.

About Member Spotlights
TOGETHER Bay Area is excited to share member spotlight stories as one way to illustrate how local efforts contribute to regional climate resilience and work toward’s our coalition’s priorities. If you’re a member with projects and programs you want to highlight, or a story about your personal experience in TOGETHER Bay Area (what have you learned, who have you connected with, and why does participating in a coalition matter to you and your work), please reach out to Laura Rosenthal, [email protected], to have your story featured on our blog!